first time I ever saw Eric Carr was on the cover of People
magazine in the summer of 1980, August I believe. I
was 13 at the time. There had been a great deal of talk
about Peter Criss leaving KISS and speculation as to who would
step into his shoes and take control of the vaunted drum kit
that backed the group's three frontmen. One of my friends had
bought the issue, which featured a full color shot of the band's
new lineup. Eric stood there, with his new Fox makeup and costume
on and I was already a fan! I thought he was an instant member
of the clan, someone whose physical appearance wed him to what
KISS was all about. Then, he took the stage and showed fans why
he was chosen to be Peter's successor. For years after that,
Eric's vintage drumming wowed people, be they KISS Army veterans
or just casual observers. His contributions to the band were
and are stellar, his memory as well.
I must confess that I never had the opportunity to see the band perform with Eric behind the kit. For years, I had been more focused on other things outside of music (namely sports and politics). BUT, I can honestly say that his presence always brought me back to buying the newest KISS album or watching their videos on MTV, when it was actually about music in the 1980s. His drumming style was superb and disciplined. He personified everything that we fans have loved about the band for years, in that he gave it absolutely everything he had and never backed off that commitment. If only we could all follow that example.
The first time I saw Eric play on television with KISS was during their appearance on the former ABC comedy Fridays. Great set and another example of the Fox's steadfast approach to his profession and true life calling. He just pounded away on the skins and captured the crowd that night, as well as the millions of people watching through their television sets. He was MY drummer in MY band, plain and simple. He was family.
When I heard that he had been stricken with heart cancer I was saddened but hopeful things would work out. His death came as a great shock to me, same for many, many others. Eric Carr's life has been celebrated many times over, either by KISS themselves, Eric's loving family or fans. For me, he represents precisely what I love about rock music - he was a goodhearted, dedicated drummer who left it all out there on the stage. Nothing more or less. In that spirit, I donned the Fox face paint and costume and sat behind the drums at a pair of KISS conventions here in my hometown of Jonesboro, Arkansas the past two summers. It was a thrill, to be sure. I felt a bit sentimental, because Eric has been gone for some time. Yet, I also had a great sense of pride in being able to personify him on stage. There is positively no way I could even hope to play at his level, but to know that fans were there to see a performance by our tribute band that included Eric meant a lot to me.
When you boil it all down, for me, it's a question of honoring a man who honored me as a fan by devoting himself to giving me years of great music. He deserves that and so much more . . .
KISS fan since 1976
Eric Carr home page