Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Eric Carr, late of KISS

So now that we have remembered when Freddie Mercury died, who remembers where they were when they heard Eric Carr died?


I thought so. It wasn't exactly headline news as far as most media outlets were concerned.

I didn't even hear it on the news. I heard Doug Mulray on Triple M mention it during his between-song banter on his famous breakfast show.

Eric had a tough job to do in Kiss. After Peter Criss left in a cloud of drug-induced haze in 1980, Eric was drafted in as a full time replacement. He stuck it out for just over 10 years, through the leanest times the band ever experienced.

His first album with KISS was the hugely divisive and poor-selling "Music From 'The Elder'" in 1981. He then played his heart out the return-to-form but still poorly selling "Creatures of the Night" in 1982.

Seeing their fortunes continue to wane, KISS pulled the publicity stunt of their lives: the took their makeup off. This ensured that the pantomime aspect of the band was gone and it announced a new "serious" outlook for the band. At least in the short-term, it ensured that 1983's "Lick It Up" sold respectably. They continued to release records throughout the 80s but with diminishing returns, due to the fact that they were competing for airtime with a bunch of similar looking bands who were copying the band's 1970s style (sans makeup). They'd become just another band who looked and sounded similar to every other band.

In 1988, the band issued the contentious "Smashes, Thrashes and Hits" compilation LP. It features a number of remixed, re-edited and some cases re-recorded versions of their hits, plus two new songs. On this record they band committed what many fans considered to be the ultimate sin: they replaced Peter's vocal on "Beth" with a new one by Eric. No offense to Eric - personally I prefer his version, but to many people this was akin to rewriting or airbrushing history.

Eric found his voice again on 1989's "Hot In The Shade" by contributing lead vocals on "Little Caesar" but not long after the release of that album Eric was diagnosed with a rare form of Cancer found in his heart.

Eric was a genuine talent. He could play drums with the best of them, but also had a sweet voice. He played guitar and bass and would often record his own demos at home playing all the instruments himself (a la Dave Grohl on the first Foo Fighters LP).

In the chequered history of KISS, Eric Carr's contributions are a high point. May he rest in peace.

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