Real Name: Paul Caravello
Born: July 12, 1950
Died: November 24, 1991
Eric Carr started playing the drums at age 14. He was in quite a few bands before he auditioned for KISS. Mostly, they were bar/cover bands. He also worked as a gas-range repairman, furniture deliveryman and delicatessen worker.
When Peter Criss decided to leave KISS in 1980, the band auditioned over 2000 people for the job. Eric Carr fit in perfectly to what the band was looking for: a powerful drummer who'd not had a high profile or previous exposure to the media. (KISS had the "anonymity" factor to worry about then, since they'd never been photographed without makeup at that point.)
Eric was originally supposed to be made up as a hawk as part of his on-stage persona, but that was scrapped at the last minute in favor of a fox getup. (Thankfully! The pictures that exist of the hawk outfit are hilariously bad.)
The addition of KISS' newest member was announced on the front cover of People magazine in August of 1980.
Eric's first tour with the band was the Unmasked tour, which featured only one US show (at the Palladium in New York City) and then stops in Europe and Australia. At the time, KISS' popularity in the US was on the decline, so the band concentrated on the rest of the world, where they were still extremely successful.
Eric's heavy drum style, much in the vein of Led Zeppelin's John Bonham, re-energized the band, who'd become more of a pop band than a hard rock act. Following a misguided concept album (Music from 'The Elder), KISS recorded Creatures of the Night, one of their heaviest albums. Eric's drumming, especially on the song "I Love it Loud," is much more powerful than Peter Criss's ever was. Eric Carr was winning over those that had remained skeptical and stubborn about letting a new member into the KISS ranks.
To many people, at the time, KISS was to be just the original four members...but Eric Carr was warmly received after a few albums and tours with the group. In 1982, Ace Frehley left the band and personnel changes would become almost hilariously regular for the next two years as a revolving door was installed in the lead guitar slot. Even though Bruce Kulick, who eventually became the stable replacement for Ace, was widely accepted, he did not win over fans like Eric Carr did.
In early 1991, Eric was hospitalized with what he thought was the flu. X-rays and tests revealed that Eric had a tumor in his heart and it was surgically removed. Unfortunately, it had gone undetected long enough to spread throughout his body. It was cancer.
On November 24th, 1991, Eric Carr passed away. He was 41 years old. He was survived by his mother, father and two sisters. He was laid to rest in Cedar Hill Mausoleum in upstate New York.
Eric Carr was the drummer in KISS longer (11 years) than Peter Criss (7 years), but was always considered "KISS's new drummer." While Peter Criss has a special place in fan's hearts as KISS' original drummer, it can be said, without much hesitation, that Eric Carr was KISS' best drummer.