Eric Carmen

 

I was born and raised in the Eastern suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio in the same year that Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen were born (you do the math). I grew up listening to the great songs of Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Hoagy Carmichael, Irving Berlin, Henry Mancini and all those guys who REALLY knew how to write great songs, on the radio.I was singing before most kids could talk (Johnny Ray songs, I’ve been told) so my parents, sensing I had some talent, enrolled me at the Cleveland Institute of Music at the age of two and a half. My Dad’s sister was a prodigy on the violin and viola and played with the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra for forty three years under the great George Szell, and I used to get to sit on stage with them while they rehearsed. I was sort of their mascot. It was quite an experience.I’d go to all the concerts with my Grandmother and watch my Aunt Muriel play all that gorgeous music, and I decided I wanted to do that as well. I started classical piano lessons when I was eleven and caught on pretty quickly. By twelve, I was writing songs of my own.After seeing The Beatles film, “A Hard Day’s Night,” I dropped everything and immediately decided I wanted to do THAT! I was so moved by “West Side Story,” that I went to the theater to see it eleven times! Leonard Bernstein rocked my world. I continued with my classical training to the age of 15-1/2 and then the Beatles happened and nothing would ever be the same again.”After seeing The Beatles film, “A Hard Day’s Night,” I dropped everything and immediately decided I wanted to do THAT!” I taught myself to play guitar (sort of) and joined my first band a few months later. For the next few years, I bounced from one band to another until I eventually wound up with three guys who had, at one time, been my heroes. That band was the Raspberries.We became immensely popular by going completely against the grain in 1970. Prog-rock was “in,” and FM radio clutched it to its bosom. I hated it. I loved the Beatles, The Who, the Byrds, the Stones, the Beach Boys and the Small Faces. I loved bands that could WRITE! I also loved Bacharach and David, Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and the songs they wrote. So the Raspberries rebelled against prog-rock and made 3-1/2 minute pop rock with melodies and power chords.Looking back, we might have been the very first “alternative” band.Critics liked us, girls liked us, but their 18 year old, album buying brothers said “no.” We got frustrated and imploded.”Looking back, we might have been the very first “alternative” band.”We were the alternative to long boring flute solos and all the other stuff people thought was so “heavy” back then. We had hit singles like “Go All The Way” and “I Wanna Be With You” but alas, we collapsed under the pressure.In 1975, I recorded my first solo album for the newly formed Arista Records, and “All By Myself” became the first single and went on to become an international top five record. I recorded three more albums for Arista including Boats Against The Current, Change Of Heart and Tonight You’re Mine and then found myself on Geffen in the eighties where I recorded one album simply titled Eric Carmen. (How original).Right about the same time, I got a call to write for a movie called Footloose and “Almost Paradise” became a big hit. A couple of years later I was asked to sing and produce a little song called “Hungry Eyes” for the film Dirty Dancing. That worked out rather well. I think just those two soundtracks sold about 30,000,000 records. A few years later Celine Dion and superstar producer David Foster decided to remake “All By Myself” and that album sold about 28,000,000 more records and pretty much established “All By Myself” as a franchise.Over the years my songs have been sung by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Mötley Crüe, Diana Ross, Mel Torme, Hank Williams Jr., Sheryl Crow, Olivia Newton-John, Axl Rose, Tom Jones, Eartha Kitt, Stanley Turrentine, Henry Mancini, Patti LaBelle, Teddy Pendergrass and many, many more.In 2000, I was asked to be part of Ringo Starr’s All Star Band. Jack Bruce from Cream, Simon Kirke from Free and Bad Company, Dave Edmunds on guitar, and ME, Eric Carmen from Lyndhurst, Ohio, the fourteen year old sitting on the floor watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, playing onstage with Ringo Starr! Well, as you can imagine, that was a bit unreal. There were times, I admit, when I had to pinch myself, notably, when we performed on the David Letterman Show, which is taped in the Ed Sullivan Theater, on the stage where The Beatles were the first time I saw them. Now, here I am, on that very same stage, playing in a band with a Beatle! Pretty cool.”We rehearsed the band, sold out the show in four minutes, and blew the roof off the place.”A couple of years ago my old band was approached to open the new House Of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio. The Raspberries hadn’t played together in over thirty years, but I’ve always liked a good challenge. We rehearsed the band, sold out the show in four minutes, and blew the roof off the place. We decided to play a couple more dates, and that turned into ten.Grammy winning engineer and producer Mark Linett (Brian Wilson’s Smile) recorded the last show at the House Of Blues on Sunset Strip on October 21st, 2005, and that performance was released on Ryko. It contains 21 songs on two CDs and an a DVD to boot. Mark and I produced it and I’m actually able to listen to it without cringing (a good sign).

 

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