Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: July 24th, 2006
This would have been Eric's 56th birthday, and Rockeyez had a chance to
sit down with his sister Loretta for a conversation about the memory that will never be forgotten.
Hello Loretta, and thank you for inviting us into your home.
No problem, Brian. I’ve known you along time and always had a good relationship with you and my brother always liked you.
Yeah, I miss him.
When Eric was growing up was he ever into sports?
No, he wasn't athletic at all it was always the music thing… always.
Where did he grow up?
He grew up in Brooklyn, NY in east New York; it was a very tough section, predominantly Italian, the social clubs and all the Italians hanging out. We had a club right next door to us.
How long did you stay in Brooklyn?
Eric got in to KISS in 1980, so we just moved to Woodhaven, Queens. The first band he started with was the Cellarmen. Neil Diamond's father had a music store on Kings Highway and Eric put his card up on the bulletin board over there. One guy named David who is my brother-in-law now had friends named Bob and Victor, and they started this band the Cellarmen. Because in Brooklyn you called the basement a cellar so that is where they came up with the name. Eric was about sixteen years old.
Did Eric always play drums?
No he started with guitar and also played drums, but in the beginning I played the drums and he played guitar and we switched over, he played better drums then me anyway. He continued to play. He played piano and whatever you gave him to play.
Did he play by sheet music or by ear?
He played by ear, but I have to brag a little. He loved the way I played because I play classical and he always used to listen to me and ask me to help him, at the end he played better then me.
When he first found out KISS had an opening spot for a drummer, was he a KISS fan?
He was in a band called Flasher in Long Island; it was a four-piece band. One of the members left the band and an ex-member of the band came by and told Eric there was an opening for KISS. He said there was an ad in the paper, it was no secret and he said alright. He typed up a little resume and some pictures and sent it off in an orange envelope.
Do you remember where the audition was held?
I would guess New York City.
Did he tell you what he had to play?
I think he played "Black Diamond", but he was just so excited that he met them and how big Gene was. But Eric was never a fan of KISS- he was always into Led Zeppelin and the Beatles.
Do you remember the first concert Eric played with KISS?
Yes, it was at the Palladium where at the time he was working with my dad delivering furniture. He had just gotten into KISS, but still kept the job delivering furniture while he was in KISS. So, he would rehearse with KISS then go and work with my dad after that. When we were outside the Palladium that day they were playing, the boss' sons from the furniture store saw my father and asked him “What are you doing here?” He told them my daughters are fans of KISS and in reality Eric was on the stage. So the guy they knew was the guy behind the make-up: my brother Eric, who was delivering furniture for them, and they never knew.
How about the first concert he ever attended?
He was more into soul music, because he was in Bionic Boogie and interracial bands. He would go to maybe a Patti LaBelle or Earth, Wind and Fire show, then go to a heavy metal band show. He didn't live at home at that time-he lived in Brooklyn.
Eric was dating a black woman, right?
Yes that was Pantera (Debbie) she was with Eric, since he was twenty-five years old. She has a fabulous voice and would be in comparison to the first Pat Benatar. She was a female singer who sang rock ‘n’ roll, and that was unheard of in those days. My brother tried to help her when he was in KISS. When he got into KISS they were still living together. She was there until the day he passed away. She was good to my brother; she deserved to be there when he hit it big.
How did Gene and Paul take to her?
They knew Debbie and treated her good. Don't forget Gene was going out with Diane Ross at the time. Pantera looked a little like her, but she was a bit more petite. She was photographed with Eric inside the People KISS special.
So when Eric joined KISS, who came up with the fox makeup?
It was a mutual thing. He first looked like a hawk or duck- that's all he would need, some duck feet (laughing). Then they came up with the fox and the rest was history. I think the costumes were done by designers.
After the Palladium show did he talk to you about it?
He was very excited and so happy. The only drawback is that he couldn't talk to people about it because they did not know it was him. He was so proud but not telling people about it was hard for him and us as well.
When he finally got known how did he hide his fame at home?
We lived on Eldert Lane in Queens and everybody knew he was somebody, but they didn't know who. When he would go out in a Porsche or a limo coming you know he was somebody.
Did he ever mention to you the biggest highlight of being in KISS?
Yes, the Palladium or playing in Australian that was phenomenal for him. He was like a Beatle over there. He's still huge there and that's where he saved most of his memorabilia, newspaper clippings of KISS in Australia. He saved some letters and the invitation from the mayor of Australia.
So tell me what the Hard Rock Cafe has on display of Eric?
Some costumes and some hand drawings that my brother drew of KISS rehearsals that are hilarious. Also, his Japanese tour jacket from the Ludwig poster. I did that because my brother needs to be out there. I don't want it being hung in a closet collecting dust and people can enjoy it and it keeps my brother’s memory alive. I lent the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame his drum kit, they said it was the best display they ever had. It was right next to a display of Angus of AC/DC.
How do you feel that people might make comments that you are just gaining from Eric's death, or why you don’t just let his memory live on without reaping benefits?
They have a right to their opinions, but if they knew Eric as I did, he loved the attention: it would be a dishonor to him to not keep his memory alive. If the families of famous people who have passed away did not keep their loved ones’ memories alive, like John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, Elvis Presley to name a few, they would more than likely have been forgotten. It is not fair to the fans. Think of the history they would lose. My brother was an inspiration, a pure example of what one can do if they follow their dream. He always encouraged the fans to never give up. On the same hand there are people who love what I am doing for Eric's memory. You are always going to have a mix, but I respect that. My brother was a photographer and he took commercial arts for the Rockheads but he took his camera with him a lot and he has thousands of shots that were
through his eyes. He always wrote on the back of every picture where it was taken.
Anytime I put up a new photo Eric owned on the website, I get e-mails saying how great that photo was of Eric eating chicken (laughing). So from my perspective it's just my brother to fans-that's Eric. So God willing by next year my brother’s personal photos will be put into a book with little stories. There are a lot of shots that were taken by Eric's
roadie from behind the stage, and you will get to see what it was for Eric looking out at the crowd. The book is in the works and it's going to happen.
Do you still hear from many people from when Eric was in the band?
Not many. I hear from Bruce a lot and I do talk to Peter occasionally. Carol Kaye, she's a doll, and that's all you need a few good people.
Will you let KISS fans understand that Eric never became part of the KISS company?
True, Eric never became part of the KISS company. He was not a hired hand either. He was a member of KISS and when he had something to say it was respected. He had enough leverage to wheel and deal. But as far as the financial part of it Eric got paid a certain fixed wage, I guess money was fine to him, but being in KISS was the top priority. KISS is a business and Eric respected that- he just loved playing.
Were there any kind of benefits or contributions that Eric would donate to?
Yes. the St. Jude's Children's Hospital. My brother loved children and he wanted to donate what he could to that cause.
What's the biggest memory you miss of Eric?
I miss a lot of things his laughter and freshness with me, telling me to get out of his room.
How was his room?
It was maybe 15 x 10. He had a self-portrait of him that he drew with a big beard and big hair. He had models he loved to build and a Godzilla and John Lennon bank. He loved building battleships. He also had his musical equipment and mixers and his graduation picture.
Did he have a favorite movie?
Yes, it would be the Ten Commandments. He could recite it to you and watch it two, three times in a row. He could point out all the bloopers-he was a blooper freak. The most amazing one he pointed out was when Nefertiri is talking to Moses just before they found out he was Jewish. She has a waddling cloth and she throws it and then Moses sees it and
she says don't go there Moses. If you look the face of Moses is in the cloth. He also liked King Kong, Scarface and the Godfather. He loved movies.
So what did Eric think of Vinnie Vincent?
He thought he was very talented. He had a blast with him on the road, my brother really liked him.
Was there ever a time where Eric didn't want to be a member of KISS anymore?
NO really he loved the band. The only time I really ever heard him upset was when they cut his hair for the "Elder". He said to me “You should see what they did to my hair.” So that was the only time I ever heard him complain. He had such a great look during "Creatures" days.
When they were shooting the video for "God Gave Rock n Roll to You",
did Eric know he was sick?
Sure, he had cancer at that point. Jack Sawyers was there: he’s the guy who did the DVD “Tale of the Fox.” Jack said they were all tired of shooting but Eric wanted to do more. Even sick he could run rings around them. He had a lot of energy: a little frail, but he was kicking rear.
Do you still have the cross shirt that he wore in the video?
Yes I do, that is a prized possession. It's going to be framed with the gloves and the sticks he used and the “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll” picture, and it will be given to my niece when she gets older.
Loretta, I would like to personally thank you for inviting me over and sharing some memories of Eric.
Once again, I just want to thank all the fans, for keeping Eric's memory alive.
Also, come visit the official Eric Carr website http:// www.ericcarr.com. If it wasn't for you guys it wouldn't be there. Thank you all for keeping his memory alive.