Released: 2010, Indie
When I heard there was going to be a book published about Eric Carr, I was pretty excited. I always thought he was one of the cooler Kiss dudes and I was looking forward to this book. It’s not quite what I expected. It’s not bad but not what I expected. I’ll explain in a minute.
I took this 256 page paperback on holiday in November and enjoyed reading it on the beach. It’s easy to read and has about 40 black and white photos although at least a dozen of them aren’t of Eric at all, just kiss fans, roadies, other members of the band…I suppose there weren’t that many pictures of a guy always hidden behind a monster drum kit!
In a bizarre coincidence I started reading THE ERIC CARR STORY on November 24th, 2011 exactly 20 years after his death, to the day. What are the chances? 1 in 365 I suppose. Still, it was an odd coincidence. That fact combined with the tropical setting and relaxed atmosphere (ie. reading with drink in hand on a beach) and the fact I’m a Kiss fan, I was quite predisposed towards this book before I even started reading.
I said that this book was not what I expected because it is not really a biography in the traditional sense. It is a collection of interviews of people who knew and worked with Eric Carr. Prato doesn’t really actually write much prose at all, just the introduction. Everything is else is firsthand interviews collected, compiled conducted by Prato. In one sense you can’t get more accurate info than direct first hand quotes, but it was at times hard to get into the flow of the story with different people, giving different perspectives on the same event, incident or situation.
The book starts at the beginning, always a good place to start, with interviews from his family members. The quotes follow Eric humble and hard-working beginning in Brooklyn, NYC in the 1950’s and a few pages are dedicated to his early years through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Next follows a bit of interesting Kiss history, nothing new for die-hard fans but an interesting retrospective of Kiss 1973-1976 and then 1977-1980.
Eric Carr joined Kiss in the spring of 1980 and this is when the book starts to get interesting. What follows is an extensive, year-by year analysis of Eric’s role in Kiss. The information presented is fascinating. It’s certainly mandatory for all Kiss fans. The quotes and stories come fast and furious. Tales from former managers, roadies, drum-tech’s publicists, girl-friends, family members, musicians, media people and admirers and people in and around the Kiss machine. All these people over three dozen contribute to the THE ERIC CARR STORY. The number of drummers who are quoted, who admire and respect Carr is impressive. Drummers, Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Ozzy, King Kobra), Banali (Quiet Riot, W.A.S.P.) Benante (Anthrax), Blotzer (Ratt), Elias (Slaughter), Morgenstein (Winger), Pero (Twisted Sister), and Portnoy (Dream Theater) all pay tribute with stories and anecdotes. The book covers recording, touring, parties and I found all the stuff about MUSIC FROM THE ELDER to be very interesting especially the comments from Bob Ezrin. There was an extended section that discussed the ill-fated Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion band, which seemed out of place in a book about Eric because he really had nothing to do with that, but it’s only about seven pages and served as interesting background.
My only complaint, even that is even the correct term, is that there was little or no formal participation (ie. commentary) from Gene Or Paul. Or Ace Frehley. Or Vinnie Vincent. Naturally Mark. St. John was unavailable for comment as he passed away in 2007. However there are lots of quotes from Bruce Kulick, so it was nice to get the perspective of someone in the band who actually worked with Eric. Oddly enough Bruce is the one person in the book that didn’t paint a totally flattering picture of Eric. I just always assumed Eric and Bruce got along as Gene and Paul always stick together. I was mildly surprised that Eric was never a full-time member of the band, just a hired gun. He wrote songs, played, toured and sang on some songs but after a decade was never allowed into the inner circle, which by many peoples own admission, was a long-standing sore point with Carr.
THE STORY OF ERIC CARR does end on a bit of a down note chronicling his last, painful and unpleasant days as he fought cancer; the chemo, the brain surgery, seizures, paralysis and eventual death. Then the book bravely dips into the funeral and the legal wrangling afterwards and twenty years on there are still some deep scars. There is a brief respite at the end with every person Prato interviewed for the book getting one last kind comment about Carr in a section called ‘Eric Remembered’. He seemed to be universally loved, a pretty level-headed guy who got to live the rock and roll dream for one wild decade.
This book not only serves as a great legacy to a great drummer but doubles nicely as an intimate look into the 80’s era of Kiss. Feel free to check out my interview with the author, Greg Prato. If you are in the mood to read about Kiss, I also reviewed Ace Frehley’s autobiography, NO REGRETS this month as well. Check it out!