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Here is another interview packed full of early Eric informationand all you Kisstorians & Fox Soldiers out there. This interviewwill fill in the blanks for a good portion of that odd middleperiod where Eric was a disco drummer. Gary Dunn was a band memberof Eric's during this period up until he left Bionic Boogie forFlasher in 1979.
Here's some background on Gary's career:
Gary Dunn grew up in Wantagh, New York which is on Long Island'ssouth shore in Nassau County. He decided to be a professionalmusician while in junior high school. Throughout junior and seniorhigh school he was always in at least one band, sometimes morethan one. Those bands played the popular music of the times whichwere the Beatles, The Young Rascals, The Vanilla Fudge, Jimi Hendrix,Cream, etc. Being a guitarist he gravitated to the music of bandswith good lead guitarists. Upon graduating from high school Garyattended Berkley College of Music in Boston. Returning to LongIsland in the spring of 1994 he began working full-time in variousbands in various styles until 1980. His last full-time band wasMother Nature/Father time, which at that time was a disco band.This is the band in which he worked with Eric Carr aka Paul Caravello.Following the breakup of Mother Nature/Father Time he decidedto change careers. He went back to college and like many otherformer musicians entered the computer field. Gary is now a softwareengineer for a large telecommunications company.
Byron Fogle: How did you meet Eric Carr aka Paul Caravello?
Gary Dunn: I was unhappy with the band I was playing in duringthe early part of 1979. This led me to call an agency that bookedmajor local bands in the New York tri-state area and inquire aboutpossible openings in their bands. They sent me some forms to fillout to provide them with background information and the typesof bands I would be interested in. I filled out the forms andsent them in.
I received a phone call shortly after that from John Henderson,the leader of Mother Nature/Father Time, a popular disco bandin the tri-state area. They were going to be playing at a clubin Oyster Bay named Rum Runners the next night and John askedme to come down and meet with them there. I went down the followingnight and spoke with them briefly, hung out a while and sat inwith the band and played a couple of songs.
We arranged the time and place for me to formally audition forthe position in the band. Tom Siano was leaving on good termswith the band and was helping them arrange for his replacement.I think I spoke with Paul Caravello briefly at the club. However,it was at the audition when I really first met Paul.
Mother Nature/Father Time had appeared frequently in my hometownat a club named the Tabard Ale House. They appeared there everySunday night for a long time. Since the club used to hand outfree passes for Sunday nights my friends and I would often gothere on Sundays if we didn't have anything else to do so. I sawthe band perform there many times. Therefore, it was a real surprisewhen they called me because I was quite familiar with them. Infact, when I went to first meet them at the club John Hendersonrecognized me.
Paul didn't really speak to me much at the audition. The auditionwas mostly business. They wanted to hear me play the materialand see if I could handle Tom Siano's high range vocal harmonyparts. I guess I was able to do it sufficiently because they calledme a few days later to inform me that I gotten the job.
BF: Besides the LP that was recorded were there any other originalsongs written with Bionic Boogie-Lightning? If so, what role didEric play in songwriting?
GD: I've seen conflicting stories on the Internet regarding exactlywhat the relationship was between Mother Nature/Father Time, BionicBoogie and Lightning. I would like to clarify this. Mother Nature/FatherTime and Lightning were literally the same band with differentnames. The same people recorded the Lightning album as were inMother Nature/Father Time. This LP was recorded prior to the timeI joined the band and was released while I was in the band. Allthe band members hated the way it was produced and arranged. Theband had little artistic control of the project and they weredisappointed with it even before it was released. Tom Siano wasin the band at that time and wrote much of the material if I remembercorrectly. If Paul wrote anything on that album I think it wasin collaboration with others. You would have to check the creditson the LP to be sure.
Bionic Boogie was another story all together. Bionic Boogie wasoriginally just an album recorded by studio musicians and ledby producer Greg Diamond. Greg Diamond wrote and arranged themusic and hired studio musicians to record it with him. The albumwas released and was a hit in the disco world although it notin the Top 40 world. Since there was really no band per se, GregDiamond searched for a band that could sound like the album andwho could put on a good live show. I don't remember the storyof how he hooked up with Mother Nature/Father Time. We each earned$100 each per concert and Greg and the booking agency made therest. The first album came out before I joined the group, probablyin late 1978. The second album was out and selling well when Ijoined. I have never heard anyone refer to the third album butthere was one. The third album came out in the fall of 1979 andcompletely flopped. I thought it was good but disco was on itsway out at that time. The band had told me that they had beentold that they would play on the second album but that never happened.Greg Diamond kept using the same studio musicians for recording.
By the time Mother Nature/Father Time was about to break up someof the band members had connections with influential people inthe music business. Although disco was dying quickly and MotherNature/Father Time/Lightning was a disco band, there was a lotof potential opportunity around. The agency that had booked BionicBoogie had also handled a lot of other disco bands. They knewtheir roster of bands was going out of style and they were aggressivelylooking for new groups to promote. They asked us if we had anyoriginal material. They actually wanted us to give them something.They knew we were a good live band from the Bionic Boogie appearances.At the same time some people who ran a recording studio in Manhattanoffered us free recording time for a percentage of whatever ourrecordings would earn. This solved the problem with coming upwith the significant amount of money for recording. We had workedwith the soundman from the rock group Foreigner for some of theBionic Boogie performances and he was very eager to use his contactsto help us if we came up with some original stuff. I had the earof a vice president at Columbia records. I was very excited aboutall of this at the time. I really thought this was going to beour big break. Most bands would kill to have these connectionsand opportunity. However, it was not to be. Most of the band wasdisillusioned and disheartened after all their years in the musicindustry. There had been too many broken promises. Too many peoplehad lied to them in the past. But Paul and I were really psychedup and ready to take on the world! I had some songs that I thoughtwould fit the band and that might transition the band past thedying disco era. Paul also had some material so he obviously waswriting at some point. The result was nothing! The band did noteven make an attempt to capitalize on all of the potential opportunities.This frustrated the hell out of Paul and me. All that happenedwas that the band learned some popular new wave songs to go alongwith the new trend and incorporated them into our work in clubs.We didn't look or act like a new wave act so the band wasn't particularlysuccessful in this idiom. The fact that we didn't even try tocapitalize on the opportunities that were right in front of uswas what made me decide to leave the music business. There wasno guarantee in what the result of pursuing those opportunitieswould have been but we should have at least made the attempt.I don't know how Paul was able to continue at all in the businessafter this let down, but he did.
BF: What are some memories you have upon first meeting Eric?
GD: I knew Eric was an outrageous comedian from all the timesI had seen Mother Nature/Father Time before I joined them. Heoften was cracking jokes over the microphone and speaking withthe audience. He really wasn't much different off stage althoughhe definitely had a quieter introspective side.
As I got to know him during the one-year period I was in the bandI could see he was a bright guy who was a serious professionaland dedicated to his work. He was also a very warm guy and considerateof other people, including the fans of the band. I've seen thevideo "Inside the tale of The Fox, The Eric Carr Story".Judging from what I saw of Paul on that video during the periodof time he was in KISS, he was pretty much the same before joiningKISS. The main difference was that he was not as happy prior tojoining KISS. You have to understand the context of that timeperiod. He had been in the same band, although it had evolved,for about 10 years. There had been many broken promises by numerousagent and manager types and they were basically still playinglocal clubs as Mother Nature/Father Time. People they knew inother bands had scored hit records and were out of the club scene.Bionic Boogie really had nothing to do with us other than liveperformances where we made more money than we usually did in clubs.It was a strange period when we appeared as Mother Nature/FatherTime and Bionic Boogie. One night we would open a concert in frontofthousands of people and play one half-hour set for considerablymore money than we would make in a club. The next night we couldbe in a club playing 3 or 4 forty minute sets until 3 AM for halfthe money and knowing we were really the club band. We alternatedbetween these two types of gigs for the first 3 months I was inthe band. It got depressing when the Bionic Boogie gigs fadedaway as the popularity of disco also faded away.
This band, like any other band that has been together a long time,had its share of pent up feelings, grudges and hard feelings amongsome of the long-term members. When we traveled as Bionic Boogiewe were required to have 2 band members share a room in the hotels.It was at the point that some of the relationships were so strainedbetween Paul and some of the other members that they did not wantto share rooms together. Since I was the "new guy" Pauland I would always share a room.
Paul was very frustrated. He wanted to sing lead in more songs.He had a great voice and I could see why. However, the politicsand music style of the band had basically relegated him to therole of drummer/background vocalist who sang occasional lead vocals.John Henderson and Eddie Dozier sang most of the songs.
BF: Are there any funny stories or practical jokes Eric playedon you or any members of the band?
GD: As I mentioned previously, there were some strains in therelationships within the band while I was there. I don't rememberany practical jokes but I'm sure there must have been, knowingPaul. I have several funny stories. One time we were going toplay at the opening of a new disco at the top of a hotel in Wildwood,New Jersey. There was a teen beauty pageant going on in the sameroom earlier that evening. This prevented us from setting up ourequipment until it was over. When it finally ended we were rushingto bring our equipment to get set up in time.
Paul handed me a monitor speaker (which are relatively small,but heavy) and let go of it before I had a good hold on it. Itfell right on my foot and broke my big toe. I was in a lot ofpain but there was no one available to take me to the hospitalso they called an ambulance! They came in and put an inflatableboot on my foot and took me away on a stretcher! All of this fora broken toe! After the doctor examined me and taped my big toeI had to catch acab back to the hotel. I had already missed thefirst set but managed to play the second and third sitting ona stool. Paul was not very popular that night with the band members!
There was a period of a few months when we played every Thursdaynight at the Oak Beach Inn in Smithtown, New York. Paul was livingin Brooklyn at the time and I was living in Wantagh at my parent?shouse. Since it was a very long drive for Paul he would driveto my house, which was about half the way to the club for him.From there I would drive and give Paul abreak.
My parents got to know Paul from his weekly stop at the house.My parents were pretty conservative and probably had never spokenwith anyone with as much hair as Paul had at the time. He hada huge perm. As much of a cut-up as he was, Paul was always extremelypolite and the perfect gentleman to my parents. My parents reallyliked him.
BF: How many live shows did Bionic Boogie perform? Can yourecall some of your fondest memories of those shows?
GD: I began playing gigs with the band in May of 1979. I thinkmy first gig with them was at the Roseland Ballroom in New YorkCity as Bionic Boogie. I remember that Luther Vandross was backstagethat night. He was one of the studio musicians on the Bionic Boogiealbums.
He had not yet emerged as a solo artist in his own right. I wouldestimate that between May and August of that year we played about20 Bionic Boogie concerts. During this time we played at the NewYork Coliseum in Manhattan at a big Disco Expo that lasted forseveral days with a large number of groups. We played the CalderoneConcert Hall in Hempstead, New York, Symphony Hall in Newark,New Jersey with Evelyn "Champagne" King, Disney Worldin Orlando and many other places as well. These concerts werepromoting the successful second album. I don't know how many concertsthey had played prior to that. There was a lull in Bionic Boogieconcerts after that. We thought it would pick up again when thethird album was released later that year. However, the album floppedand I think we only played one Bionic Boogie concert after thatin Bridgeport, Connecticut.
BF: Did you ever notice Eric drawing characters, which laterbecame the Rockheads around the time you played in bands withEric?
GD: No. The environments we were in were not conducive to that.I saw Eric mostly at band rehearsals, club gigs and at concertgigs. After we would set up our equipment at a gig and had timeto kill before performing, we would often play pinball or videogames together. At the other times, such as when we car-pooled,I never saw him draw. There were certain things I did not becomeaware of about Eric until I read about him on the Eric Carr website many years later. I knew nothing of the Rockheads.
BF: If you had to sum up Eric Carr in one word, what wouldthat be?
GD: That's a tough question. If I were forced to use one wordit would be DYNAMIC. That describes his personality and work attitude.But that doesn't describe his crazy sense of humor or his personalwarmth. One of the things I remember about Paul is that he madepeople laugh and smile. Many different kinds of people! If youdidn't think one of his jokes or comments was funny you wouldn'thave to wait very long until another would come out that wouldmake you laugh or smile. He could go on like this for quite awhile. He was just that way.
BF: Eric mentioned in his application for Kiss that he hadplayed at Walt Disney World in 1979. What do you recall aboutthat show and which band was it with?
GD: I was at that gig. It was a Bionic Boogie gig. We opened fora band named GQ who had a few top 40 disco hits around that time.Disco Nights and Standing Ovation were two of them. I was impressedwith the lead guitarist who was also their lead singer. He coulddo both at the same time pretty well.
It was a very hot and humid day. We arrived the afternoon theday before but could not do a sound check that night due to rainso we just hung out at the hotel. We had free passes to the MagicKingdom so the day of the concert we went around the park andwent on rides until about 2 pm. Then we had to go to the stage(in Tomorrow Land) for the sound check. I think we played 3 half-hoursets but they were spread out between 5 pm and 10 pm. We alternatedsets with GQ. I remember that it was the largest audience I hadever played for at the time. I don't know how many thousands ofpeople. There were people as far as I could see from the stage.The audience was great and we were received very well.
The following day we were supposed to fly to New York and geta connecting flight to Peoria, Illinois. We were to open a concertthere that night. When we left Disney in the morning and arrivedat the Orlando airport, one of the band members realized he hadleft the money he had collected from Disney at the hotel! He tookthe rental car and returned to Disney and successfully recoveredthe money. In the meantime, the rest of the band was on a planeto New York. The band member who was left behind was going totry to get to Peoria on his own in time for the concert but itended up not being possible. The rest of the band got to New Yorkand notified the agent that we couldn't all get to Peoria in timefor the concert. I don't know what happened in Peoria that nightbut our booking agency was not very pleased about this turn ofevents.
BF: To your knowledge does any video or audio exist of thatshow in Disney World?
GD: If there is it was taped by the girlfriend of one of our bandmembers on a portable cassette recorder. I vaguely remember thatshe taped at least some of it but keep in mind that was 23 yearsago! I don't know if anyone knows where she is today or whateverhappened to the tape.
BF: Were you in touch with Eric after he joined KISS? Did youever see Eric perform while he was in KISS?
GD: I was not in touch with Eric after he joined KISS. After thebreakup of Mother Nature/Father Time in early 1980 I decided toleave the music business and make a career change. Eric went onto form a group named Thrasher with some musicians from anothergroup that had recently broken up and who had worked for the samebooking agency as Mother Nature/ Father Time. They began playinglocal clubs in early 1980. I was in touch with Eric and he toldme they were going to be playing at the Tabard Ale House in Wantagh,New York, which was where I lived. I went down to see him there.
The band was good but I was very impressed with how good Ericsounded. I had been in a disco band with Eric. Disco did not givedrummers much freedom in their playing. Drummers had to prettymuch just stick with playing the basic beat. Flasher was a NewWave rock band. Eric's heart was always in rock n' roll althoughhe did like rhythm and blues and he had an appreciation for otherkinds of music as well. Eric was a good disco drummer but he wasan excellent rock drummer as his KISS fans later came to know.I had never heard him play rock before and he sounded better thanI had ever heard him. I told him so butEric had a self-depreciatingway about him and it was almost like he didn't believe me whenI told him he sounded so good. That night was the last contactwe had. I believe he joined KISS the following summer.
I got preoccupied with my career change and we did not stay intouch. It's the nature of the bands, particularly bands that havenot hit it big, that you spend a lot of time together when you'reworking. It's like being married to all the band members. Youtravel together to gigs; you rehearse in the daytime, play onstage at night and hang out between sets on gigs. It seems likemore than a working relationship. However, when a band breaksup the people often just go their separate ways.
When he joined KISS the band was on the cover of People Magazineand there was an article about their new drummer. Although thearticle intentionally did not reveal his real name or mentionthe names of his previous bands I remember thinking that it almostsounded like Paul but I didn't really think that it was him. Youcouldn't tell by appearance because they were still wearing makeupat the time.
I found out he had joined KISS by accident. I had some work doneon my guitar to by technician I had gone to several times before.His name is Steve Carr, notice the last name. Steve had builtsome of the custom guitars KISS used like the axe shaped bassguitar and some others. Steve also used to travel with the bandand take care of their instruments on the road. He is a very friendlyguy and was telling me some stories of life on the road with KISS.He mentioned the new drummer, Eric Carr, and then told me hisreal name, Paul Caravello. I was shocked and asked him to describeEric Carr. He described his personality but I knew it was himfor sure when I told him the name of Paul's girlfriend and provideda description of her. He confirmed that it was Eric's girlfriend.I called one of our former band mates and he already knew aboutit. It became obvious when KISS stopped wearing makeup. I couldsee it was Paul in the videos on MTV. The only difference in hisappearance was that he had dyed his hair black. His hair was brown.One last note on this story was that KISS originally wanted touse Steve Carr's entire name for their new drummer. Steve didn'tlike that idea so they came up with Eric for his first name. Ona sadder note, I didn't know he had died until a friend told meabout it. He knew I had worked with Eric and he saw his deathmentioned in a year-end issue of Rolling Stone Magazine. It waslisted with other rock n' roll deaths for the year. It was notuntil a number of years later that I learned more about the circumstancessurrounding his death. I saw Gene Simmons talk about it on a showabout the band on VH-1. Loretta Caravello, Paul's sister, providedme with a copy of the video about Paul's life and I was able tolearn more.
BF: Do you have any message to pass along to Eric's fans thatare reading this interview?
GD: Most of his fans will remember Eric for his contribution toKISS, which is understandable. I always thought the band greatlyimproved after he joined the band. He was a very solid drummer.I recently read a number of items on the Internet written by peoplethat had the opportunity to know him or even just had the opportunityto meet him. As you read these stories you keep hearing some ofthe same things over and over.
You keep hearing what a down-to-earth guy he was, how kind hewas to the fans, how he had an outrageous sense of humor and howyou couldn't help but smile when he was around because of allof his antics. I was around Paul 5 days per week for about a yearso I know these stories are typical of his behavior. His fansshould know, if they don't know already, he was a really greatguy. That's how I will remember him. I have one last humorousstory to tell. Late one night, near the end of Mother Nature/FatherTime, we had finished loading our equipment after a club gig andPaul and I got into a conversation about KISS. Now keep in mindhe had no idea he would end up in the band the following summer.We didn't even know our band was going to break up soon! Paulwas going on and on about what he had heard about a recent KISSconcert at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. He was tellingme about how many trucks full of equipment and stage gear theyhad and about all their special stage effects, etc. My musicalbackground was that of the late 1960's and early 1970's and Iwas more of a music "purist" than Paul. The bands Ihad listened from that era mostly stood in one place on the stageand just played their instruments. They really were not showmen.I was just into the music side of things and I did not want tobe bothered thinking about the theatrical side. That was justthe way it was, for the most part, during that period and thatwas what I felt comfortable with. Paul, on the other hand, wasreally into putting on a show and thought all of this kind ofstuff was great. He got really heated about it as if trying tochange my feelings about this. I remember telling him that I couldn'tbe in a band like that. I said, if I got a phone call from KISSasking me to replace their guitarist, I just couldn't do it because"it wasn't me". I said it was fine for those who areinto the theatrics but it just wasn't for me. He seemed very frustratedthat he couldn't change my mind. It is very ironic how thingsturned out. I remembered this conversation when I learned Paulhad joined the band. I smiled when I thought this might be thereason he did not call me after he joined KISS.
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