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InterviewWith David Bartky
This is an interview that was recently conductedwith Eric's former bandmate in the Cellarman & SMACK, David Bartky.What some of you may or may not know is that David was also Eric'sbrother in law, and in this interview we get to learn more abouta younger Eric Carr as well as what Eric was like off-stage withhis family, a truly unique interview and insight to Eric. Likewith the Victor Cohen interview David has some priceless storiessome as I was putting this together had me in stitches. SpecialThanks to David for doing this interview & providing us a muchcloser look at Eric. Hope you all enjoy this interview.
Byron Fogle: How did you meet Eric Carr aka Paul Caravello?Any
memories of your 1st encounter?
David Bartky: I met Eric around Easter time, I think in 1966.Victor and I were in another band that never really did anything.We went to a Lee's Music Store on Utica Ave. where Victor pickedup a card (I still have it!) that was looking for a Lead and RhythmGuitar. I reminded Victor that he played rhythm but I played bass.He wanted to go for it anyway, so we made the call and set upthe audition. We didn't have too many songs in common, so Paul(Eric) gave us the chords and played the bass line to All My Lovingwhile I wrote it down. I think he was impressed that we couldread music, write it down and play it all in the same sittingbecause before we knew it we were a band.
BF: What role did Eric play in songwriting in The Cellarman?
DB: We all wrote songs but his seemed to make it to the mikesand guitars. They were just better. For " I Cry at Night"he knew exactly what he wanted and even wrote this running bassline. For "Your Turn to Cry" he liked the sound butonly laid down the chords and melody. That bass line is mine ofcourse minus the things he didn't like. BF: Are there any funnystories or practical jokes Eric played on you or any members ofthe band?
DB: Funny, Al (Eric's father) and I were just talking about onethe other day except is was played on Paulie. Victor had thissplit Hammond that he played and he asked Paul if he messed withthe organ. Paul said "yes, how did you know?" Victorsays "I didn't, I was just checking". Then there wasthe time Paul took my Amp apart and handed me the extra pieces.He didn't know where they came from but figured it the thing wasworking they weren't necessary! He was always looking to see howthings worked.
BF: Are there any other Cellarman songs besides I Cry At Night,& Your Turn to Cry?
DB: I just listened to a couple the other day (we didn't writethe chords or words but most of the rest of the musical arrangementwas ours minus the Trumpet player (where did they get him from?)"The One I Adore" and some other song.They were definitelynot real rockers. We did them because we thought it might getus further along. Where the hell did that trumpet player comefrom - had to be a relative of somebody.
BF: Do you have any memories of the Crystal Collins recordingsessions, if so what are the names of those songs recorded?
DB: Yes. Crystal was cute. I think it was her grandma that washelping things happen for her. Again, we did this because we thoughtit would help us. I think we recorded these on a label calledJody Records. She had a nice voice. I think one of the songs was"When You Grow Tired". I don't remember the other songnow, but I probably could if pressed. The chords and words camefrom the writers of the songs, but the arrangements were completelyours - I do remember getting yelled at once by one of the writers.I think he thought we got it wrong - we still did it our way.
BF: How many live shows did the Cellarman perform?
DB: We played every week, sometimes three and more times a week- plus auditions. We played at places like the Bay Au Go-Go inBrooklyn, - that one was fun. We were all over the boroughs andWestchester.
BF: Were you involved with any of Eric'sother projects Smack or Things That Go Bump In The Night afterhe left the Cellarman?
DB: SMACK. That was the band that Victor, Bob and I formed afterThe CellArmen. We had to pick up a drummer and a singer to makeup for the loss of Paulie. We picked up Marty, a friend of Bob'sas the drummer and Gary, a guy we auditioned, to be our singer.Because of our experience with The CellArmen I think this bandwound up being better and stronger. We started doing heavier music.We even did "FM" stuff. Wow - for us that was heavy.During that time Eric was playing with other bands. I was seeinghis sister (Sissie), so I got to hear them when they practiced.The good thing is they did not usually practice in "our"cellar - they practiced in the garage. They were a little heavierthan The CellArmen, but I think that stopped them from gettinggood bookings. They probably would have made good recording bands- but the bookings at that time were for bands that played musicyou could dance to. Damn - I forget the year - 1970?.. Marty quitthe band to go on with his life. Victor suggested calling Paul.We figured we had nothing to lose - unbelievably, he accepted- but only for the summer.SMACK was complete at this point andwould never get better. The harmonies were tight - 2 lead singers(although Paulie tried not to take too many leads), bass and drummerback in sync. We were booked up in Armonk NY, in a place calledThe Willow Inn. We took that place from being empty to so crowdedyou could hardly dance. That was the best time of my musical life.It didn't last forever; Paulie said the summer and he meant it.All of us trying to convince him to stay did not work. We weredone. The band broke up. I auditioned for one other band and didn'tfeel the magic. For me it was over. For Paulie- it was just starting.
BF: Did you ever notice Eric drawing characters which laterbecame the Rockheads around the time you played in bands withhim?
DB: Oh yeah. He was doing these characters for as long as I remember.I think it started off as being caricatures of himself. You know,self portraits. Actually, by the time they became the RockheadsI recognize the bass player. That's me (some of it not so flattering,but if that's what he saw, what can you do). An English guy (I'mhalf English and have always been proud of it) with reddish hairnamed Clive (Pretty similar to Dave - don't you think) that playsthe bass. I think the rest he made up. I don't think I am thatstuck up.
BF: If you had to sum up Eric Carr in one word, what wouldthat be?
DB: Awesome. The only word I ever use when asked for only oneto describe Eric.
BF: It has been documented that Eric while in Kiss got togetherwith some member of The Cellarman & Salt & Pepper to jam, Whatsongs were played?
DB: I don't know about the other bands but, when he jammed withme we would do songs that had harmony, some Beatles, some NeilYoung. When he played with me and Victor we would do some of ourold stuff - "Light My Fire", "96 Tears", "Groovin'","Revolution". It was fun. I miss my harmony buddy.
BF: When & how did you find out Eric was sick?
DB: I can't remember exactly when or how. It's like I've blockedit out. This question is too hard. I remember a lot of doctorvisits a lot of hope I can't remember the exact moment. BF:Have you heard Eric's album Rockology if so what is your favoritesong?
DB: Yes. Actually I remember hearing the songs before they wentinto Rockology. My favorites were to be performed by the RockHeads."Tiara" and " Too Cool for School".
BF: Have you seen the DVD Inside Tale of the Fox, can you shareyou thoughts on it.
BF: Have you heard Kiss fan Ralph Carle's cover of Your Turn ToCry, which was done acoustically on his record? If so what areyour thoughts on these?
DB: Yes. It's still nice to hear somebody else cut the song.
BF: Did you see the Eric DVD Inside the Tale of the Fox? Ifso, what did you think of it?
DB: Yes, I've seen the DVD. My feelings when I look at it arecomplex. I come to tears when I see parts. I laugh when I seeparts. Eric makes you laugh - the tour of the locker room whereyou see the Bruce Kulick bottle of water and the Eric Carr earplugs is hilarious and a hundred percent Eric. When I see Momand Dad C.. talking and then seeing the Van with the flowers -well that was us, The CellArmen, and that brings some tears. Wetook many a trip in that psychedelic van. I also get tears whenI think about the fire. I remember the family waiting to hearword. It makes me sad, when I think that the fire might even havecontributed to Eric's illness. He stayed behind in that chokingfire to help others. Those fumes had to have been noxious. Howdo you know that years later, this might or might not be a factorin his health. Well... maybe, maybe not, it is only an opinion- but it bothers me.
I think the key to Eric was captured pretty well on that DVD.He was happy to be where he was, even if, as Bill Aucoin says,he was a paid musician. that never really affected Eric. He wasas true to his fans and the celebrity as he could be. He enjoyedthe fame and celebrity and did not avoid it. If a fan got a responsefrom Eric - guarantee you - it was Eric and nobody else. I knewEric was special when I played in the CellArmen and SMACK withhim. He could play kick ass Drums, Bass, Guitar, Keyboard andsing. I am glad he reached the heights before he left this earth.It was an honor to know him and I miss those times we played andsang together after our bands while he was in KISS. They mightsay it was his sense of warmth and humor that got him into KISSbut I'll tell you - he couldn't have done it without being thebest Rock and Roll drummer there was - and SINGER!!! Sorry. I'mgetting a little carried away. I'll stop now.
BF: Can you give the fans an inside view of what Eric was likeat offstage when he visited your family?
DB: Eric enjoyed being Eric. That is why you will never hear abad word about Eric. He loved his fans. He was kind of disappointedif people did not come up to him for autographs. Kind of the oppositeof most rock stars out there. When we went shopping in the mallsof New Jersey it mad me feel good walking along side Eric Carr.He was so kind to everybody and never brushed anybody off. Forme personally - I loved it when he had days off (far too few)and came over the house or we met at his parents' house. Therewould certainly be a time when we would start playing guitarsand doing harmony. He had the type of personality that was notoverbearing. He would rather let me sing a lead than take it himself.I miss our jams.
BF: Do you have any message to pass along to Eric's fans thatare reading this interview?
DB: Eric loved you all. I never met a rock start that consideredbeing a rock star an honor. Maybe it is because he worked so hardfor it. In any event, if one of you make it, be like Eric. Knowthat if you do it is something special. Enjoy it and don't forgetthat it is your love of music and your fans that got you there.That is Eric. That is what he was all about.
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