Intervju med Carrie Stevens av Kiss Army Argentina.
KISS ARMY ARGENTINA Exclusive Interview with CARRIE STEVENS:
“I tell him my thoughts and he is in my prayers “
Hello, Carrie. It is a pleasure for us that you are devoting some minutes for this interview.
I am happy you haven’t forgotten Eric Carr, and I am grateful for the opportunity to speak of him. I didn’t do any interviews for many years because it was just too difficult to keep reliving the relationship, and the loss. It is still difficult but enough time has passed that I can share some details with the fans who so loyally love him.
We are KISS fans and as such, we cannot help remembering Eric Carr. His memory is always with us. We would like to focus on his less known sides, and we think you are an authorized voice to join us in this task.
There is not a day that goes by that someone does not mention Eric to me. I have learned to embrace it. I am sure I knew him in ways that no one else did. I am lucky to have shared his life intimately, in sickness and in health. I was lucky to have him alive and I know that’s what you want to hear about…so I will try best to give you the experience of knowing him, in this interview.
We think that just mentioning his name must bring back many memories and feelings in you… Something similar happens to us, the fans. Let’s go back in time for a while. How did you meet Eric?
I met Eric when I was living in Memphis, Tennessee in 1987. I grew up in Massachusetts but had moved there and was attending Memphis State University. Kiss played there in November. It was the Crazy Nights Tour. They had a night off, and I was at the lobby bar the Peabody Hotel, where they were staying. I was there for an art exhibit by Ron Wood, of the Rolling Stones with some girl friends. I over heard him and the guys he was with talking about getting a car to go see a local band called the “Willy’s” play. So, I introduced myself and said “I have a car, I’ll take you”. And that was how it all started!
What was the first thing that you noticed in him? What things or attitudes made him so attractive for you?
Well, from the back of his head I thought he was Paul Stanley, with all that long curly black hair. But it was his kind eyes and his sense of humor and they way he nervously moved his lips when he spoke that got me. He was soft spoken. He was a little shy in front of me when we first dated. But truthfully, he was more like a soul mate than anything…you just recognize your soul mate when you meet them. I was just drawn to him. Some call it chemistry. I don’t know…I just remember being crazy about him.
It does not happen very often that when somebody so famous is mentioned, that has reached so far, it is always done with so much respect, love and admiration. Only positive things are commented on Eric. He was obviously very special. How would you describe him?
He was very considerate, sensitive, and helpful. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He was a lot of fun to be with. No one has anything bad to say about him because people give him the same respect he gave them. He was good to people. He had good morals, and he was simply a likeable guy.
You and Eric had been together for many years; you stood by him on happy moments and on complicated times, especially in his last moments. Could you share with us any special or unforgettable memory or anecdote of something you lived together?
One day I was feeling sad and hopeless. Eric took out a pen and paper and asked me what was bothering me, writing all my problems down. Then we went over the list together. One by one, he came up with solutions to all my problems. He was very much my care taker. We talked on the phone al the time. I didn’t buy a roll of toilet paper without telling him about it. lol
At first sight it seemed that Eric was always in a good mood, always friendly and smiling, but what was from your point of view his most outstanding virtue or positive characteristic?
It is impossible to pick one. But the one that has been overlooked in most of what I’ve read was his bravery. He became famous overnight, which takes a lot of guts to be able adjust to. He had to step into Pete Criss’s shoes! And the obvious…he faced open heart surgery bravely. He proudly showed the scar on his chest, even to strangers! And he bravely endured so many doctor appointments and cancer treatments. Beyond that he always stood up for himself when he was passionate about something. He stood up for himself in business and in personal relationships. He was no pushover, he was a real man. He managed his life with strength and grace.
Did you travel with him when he toured?
Yes, I traveled a lot on the Hot in the Shade Tour. It was very exciting.
When you were with him, did he ever show any strong concern about a possible KISS reunion with the four original members, or it was rather something not that important for him?
No. I never heard him mention anything about thinking there could be a reunion.
Did being in KISS mean something truly essential for Eric?
Yes, of course. Being in Kiss made Eric a rock star. Kiss was his success…his validation as a drummer. It meant everything to him. He was the drummer in Kiss until the day he died, and that is how he wanted it.
While you were together, how was your relationship with the rest of the band? Did you hang out together?
We hung out with Bruce and his then wife, Christina a lot. We also hung out with the offstage key board player, Gary Corbett and his wife Lenora a lot. I only recall hanging out with Gene and Paul when it was business, like in the recoding studio or at rehearsals. Of course we saw Gene and Paul on the tour bus, backstage or on video shoots. I was so young and intimidated by Gene and Paul. They were larger than life to me. I was scared of them when they spoke to me. Not that they were mean to me…they were just so famous since I was a little kid, and it was awkward being near them at the time. But they certainly don’t scare me now!
It is known among the fans that during the recording sessions of Hot in the Shade and the subsequent tour the relationship of Eric and Paul was not exactly the best; Eric’s drum solo was even removed from that tour. You were there; was it the situation that complicated? How did you live it?
I honestly don’t remember the solo being taken away. I read about it in The Eric Carr Story by Greg Prato. And since Larry Mazer (Kiss’s manager at the time) admitted it being his idea to take to solo away, I am sure it happened! I remember Eric being unhappy on that tour and Gene thinking it was because he missed me. I remember Gene looking at me when I showed up on tour once and saying to Eric, So, is this has been wrong?” I do remember Eric being frustrated because he wanted more creative say in the band. I always thought it was about song writing. Maybe it was the solo. Probably both. He was caught between a rock and a hard place, as we say here in America. On one hand he had great success compared to must musicians because he was in a famous band. But at the same time, he had no creative control because Gene and Paul owned “Eric Carr”. Musicians are creative people. They need to express themselves. Eric was stifled a bit. He was never going to be given creative freedom as long as he was a hired drummer. But at the same time, he really appreciated being in Kiss. So, I think all that was complicated and emotionally torturing. But that is me looking back and analyzing it. At the time I didn’t understand. Sometimes he would want us to have time apart so he could “get things done. He said he couldn’t get things done when I was around….because all we did was goof off and have fun together. I am so glad now, that I was the bad influence that distracted him from work and brought joy into his life instead!
When did Eric first find out about his disease? How did he react?
It was early in 1991 when Eric had flu like symptoms. The symptoms didn’t go away so he had and X-ray and found a rare sarcoma, a tumor on the left ventricle of his heart. They did a biopsy a few weeks later that came back un-benign, meaning he had cancer. Further tests revealed that it had already spread to his lungs.
Was the seriousness of his condition clear from the very beginning?
I remember his being quite alarmed when the doctors gave him 2-5 years to live. He actually did not. He was dead 8 months later, after much suffering.
When did you see him for the last time?
I saw him in the Bellevue Hospital in NYC. He was paralyzed on his left side. He was left handed, so he couldn’t write. He couldn’t speak. He would kick his right leg, out of frustration. He was trapped inside his own body. He mind was alert…you could tell in his eyes that he was aware. I would read to him and put earphones on his ears. I’d rub his feet. But there was so way to take away the pain. I remember lying up at night praying to God to give me some of his pain…it was too much to see the man who I looked up to and loved disintegrate before my eyes.
What does he mean nowadays in your life?
Eric is my spiritual guide; my angel. My nine year old son idolizes Eric. He is a role model to my son…his spiritual daddy.
Do you keep any personal stuff from him, some object or element that is always with you and that somehow makes you feel his presence?
The key chain I use, Eric made me in the hospital while he was having Chemotherapy. It is a silver heart with red stone. He made it in the arts and crafts center at the hospital. I have so many things…I even have an old toothbrush of his. I have every card he ever sent. I have a shirt of his in my pajama drawer. My son is a drummer, and uses Eric’s gloves and sticks. I have a wooden parrot he bought me in Vegas that hangs from the ceiling. Its strange that the dishes outlasted Eric…I think that when I drink morning coffee out of the mugs he gave me 20 years ago. Its mind boggling and sad. But I enjoy remembering the love he had for me when he gave me these things. Love never dies.
Did you keep in touch with Eric’s family after he passed away?
Yes, I still talk to Loretta, Eric’s sister. His mother and I always stayed in touch with letters and cards before she passed last summer.
Another complicated issue is the moment or series of events Eric had to face with Gene and Paul in relation to his disease; people that were close to Eric have said that the family cut off the relationship with Gene and Paul because of some questionable attitudes they supposedly had towards Eric. What can you tell us about this issue? Because it is even said that they did not attend Eric’s funeral…
Gene did not come to Eric’s wake. Paul did. They were both at the funeral. The family didn’t really cut off the relationship. I mean, after Eric had a seizure and went into a coma; he was never able to speak again. It’s not like he could have taken the call, had they tried to call!
They did not try to visit. They did try to get him to resign. I think they were listening to the advice of Larry Mazer. I also think they were pessimistic. Gene says he wanted to Eric to focus on getting well, instead of the band. I don’t know what was really going on beyond that. All I know is they could have been nicer about it. In hindsight, why didn’t they say, “Sit this tour out and get well, you are still the drummer for Kiss. But until the doctors say your well enough to tour, we are going have Eric Singer stand in for you.” That would have been a lot nice a way to handle it, than pressuring him to resign. But I’d like to think that everyone was just trying to make the right choice bases on what information they had. It was very stressful. It all happened so fast. I don’t hold any anger towards gene and Paul. I mean they are human too, and they probably hurt…in their own way. They probably have regrets…I’d like to think so.
After Eric passed away, did anybody from KISS or close to them keep in touch with you?
I am still great friends with Bruce, Christina, Gary and Lenora. We have always stayed in touch. I became friendly with Gene and Shannon after becoming a Playboy Playmate in June 1997. I see them at the Mansion occasionally. Gene put me on the cover of Tongue Magazine in 2002. I am much closer to them now than I was 20 years ago when Eric was alive. Gene treats me with respect and kindness. He is nice to my son. I bump into Paul Stanley all over the place.
We live in the same neighborhood.
The relation of Eric and Bruce Kulick while they both were in KISS has always been strong, and we know that you still keep contact with Bruce. They were a very interesting duo, and they had many plans in common that are now unfinished; is this correct?
Yes, that is correct. Bruce can answer this question better than me, but I believe you should keep an eye out for the Rockheads! Bruce has been great with continuing their collaborations.
He is an amazing musician, as well as a wonderful human being.
Now that we mention Bruce Kulick, we have to mention something that you commented on our first contact: your 9-year old son has recently participated in a KISS tribute, with Bruce on guitar, with the Fox makeup! We have seen some truly stunning pictures. Please tell us how and when this great event took place, and whose idea it was that your son used the Fox makeup.
My son’s grandmother got his a guitar and guitar lessons for Christmas in 2009 but he didn’t want guitar lessons. He chose drums instead. So I enrolled him in the School of Rock, which is a school that basically teaches kids how to be in bands. Every season, or quarter, the kids get to play out in a real club in a tribute performance. The first show that my son happened to be eligible to audition for was a Kiss Tribute. He auditioned with sticks I have that were Eric’s, and gloves that were actually worn by Eric.
How did the interest for KISS begin in your son?
Once my son got cast in the Kiss Tribute show, he wanted to know everything about them. I had already told him a lot about Eric. He had met Bruce and Gene several times before, but I don’t think he really “got” who they were until he got into Kiss music. And now he probably knows more facts about Kiss history than I do. Naturally Kiss became his favorite band while he was rehearsing for the show. I took him to a Kiss concert last summer and took him backstage to meet the band. He loves Kiss!
What have you been up to in your life? We know that you have participated in movies and in TV shows, but could you give us more details of what you are currently doing?
I am about to go to Hawaii to film a monster movie with Eric Roberts for the SciFi channel. I have been shooting a reality show based on Centerfold Moms.
How do you feel with the fact that the fans are always keeping Eric’s memory alive? Because some people have even traveled to the USA to visit him in his final rest place! From a distance, these kind of things are truly moving…
Well, I am supportive of the fans keeping Eric’s memory alive. That is why I am doing this interview. Especially for all the fans that love him so much that they travel across the world to see his resting place…they deserve some love, and he isn’t here to give it to them…so I will. I love Eric Carr fans! But honestly I don’t answer personal emails about him because I would be writing all day…and I have to make a living, raise a kid, and move on with my life. However I am happy to do an interview for you. I do the best I can to keep his memory alive, and thank you Kiss Army Argentina, for doing the same.
Was there ever a chance of doing a show in memory of Eric? Is there any possibility of releasing, for instance, a book about him to donate the proceedings to a charity? We think that both of them would be great ideas.
No. I don’t think I have it in me to write a book. Great idea, but doing this interview is about the extent of my patience for writing!
If you had the chance, what would you tell Eric now?
That’s hard one because I feel a connection to him. I tell him my thoughts and he is in my prayers. I feel like he can hear me and see me. I feel like he still knows me. It is hard to explain, but if I had to say anything, it would be, “Eric, I look forward to being together again when I see you on the other side. Love is stronger than death or heaven. This, I know.”
The last request: could you please leave a message for Eric fans and for KISS Army Argentina?
Oh, how I wish you could teach me to tango, Kiss fans of Argentina!
Finally, we want to tell you that Eric will live forever in our hearts; we will never forget this amazing drummer and great person that Eric was!
And in mine, as well. Thank you.