The man behind the Eric Carr Story.
by contributing writer Nick "The Quig" Clemente
Greg Prato is a Long Island, New York-based music journalist, who writes for a variety of sites and magazines, including All Music Guide, Billboard.com, Rolling Stone.com, and Classic Rock Magazine, among others. Greg also has five books out including his latest "The Eric Carr Story." I caught up with Greg via email and he was nice enough to answer some questions for EricCarr.com.
What made you decide to be a music
I've been a fan of rock music for as long as I can remember...well actually, it was Kiss that was my main introduction to rock music, back when I was a mere youngster. I've been a huge rock fan ever since, and in 1997, I started writing for music sites and magazines. Starting in 2008, I began writing books. Thus far, I have written quite a few books, here is a listing of all of them, as well as links to view samples from each (and ordering info):
'The Eric Carr Story' - http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-eric-carr-story/13991056
'MTV Ruled the World: The Early Years of Music Video' - http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/mtv-ruled-the-world-the-early-years-of-music-video/13991020
'A Devil on One Shoulder and an Angel on the Other: The Story of Shannon Hoon and Blind Melon' - http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/a-devil-on-one-shoulder-and-an-angel-on-the-other-the-story-of-shannon-hoon-and-blind-melon/3522582
'Touched By Magic: The Tommy Bolin Story' - http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/touched-by-magic-the-tommy-bolin-story/4042205
'No Schlock...Just Rock!' - http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/no-schlockjust-rock/4810291
'Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music' - http://www.ecwpress.com/books/grunge_dead
If you couldn't write about music, would you still be as excited about writing?
I'm not entirely sure, as music is still one of my main interests in life. But that said, this summer, my first-ever non-music book will be released. It's going to be about the 1980s era New York Jets football team, titled 'Sack Exchange: The Definitive Oral History of the 1980s New York Jets.' For this book, I interviewed the majority of Jets players from this era (Joe Klecko, Mark Gastineau, etc.), and it will be released via ECW Press (the same publisher that put out my earlier book, 'Grunge is Dead'). Keep an eye on www.ecwpress.com for updates re: it's release date.
What made you pick Eric Carr's life to write about?
As a longtime Kiss fan, one of my favorite albums was 'Creatures of the Night,' and I always felt that Eric's gonzoid drum sound played a major part in the sound and heaviness of that album. Also, out of all the Kiss books that have been released since the late 90s, not many focused on 80s era Kiss (their "non-make up era"), and didn't include a lot of info about Eric, even though he was in the band from 1980-1991. Also, as a fan, I always heard rumors re: Eric's last year before he passed away, including if he was fired from the band, if he was still in the band, what his relationship with the band was like at that point, etc. Gene and Paul have gone on record re: their side of the story in such books as 'Behind the Mask,' so I figured it was time to hear the other side of the story. I feel I definitely accomplished my goal, by getting interviews with people that were close to Eric - Eric's sister (Loretta Caravello), Eric's girlfriend (Carrie Stevens), friends (Eddie Trunk), Kiss album producers (Bob Ezrin, Michael James Jackson, Ron Nevison), fellow band members (Bruce Kulick), people that worked for Kiss during that era, and also members of other bands that crossed paths with Eric (Carmine Appice, Charlie Benante, Mike Portnoy, Rod Morgenstein, Ty Tabor, Mark Slaughter, Blas Elias, Bobby Blotzer, Frankie Banali, AJ Pero, and Marky Ramone).
Were you a KISS fan growing up?
I was a HUGE Kiss fan growing up. I first discovered them in 1978 (via Kiss trading cards that a friend at my school bus stop showed me). My mother was kind enough to buy me the first Kiss album as a graduation present from kindergarten shortly there after, and in 1979, my father was kind enough to take me to see Kiss on the 'Dynasty' tour at Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, NY (with Judas Priest opening up!). After a short break from Kiss for about a year in the early 80s ('The Elder' debacle was too much for me to handle!), they became one of my favorite rock bands again shortly thereafter, and remained so throughout the 80s.
Did you get to see Eric play live? If so, when?
I was lucky to see Eric play live with
Kiss two times - on the 'Crazy Nights' tour at Nassau Coliseum
in January of 1988, and again on the 'Hot in the Shade' tour at
Nassau Coliseum in June of 1990.
You did one of the last interviews with original KISS manager Bill Aucoin before his passing. Was he in good spirits?
He couldn't have been nicer, and yes, he appeared to be in great spirits. He was very honest and open about his recollections and thoughts about Kiss and Eric, which you'll read all about in 'The Eric Carr Story.'
In your book "MTV Ruled the World" you cover the unmasking of KISS on MTV. How did Eric feel about taking the make-up off so soon after putting it on?
Yes, my other new book, 'MTV Ruled the World,' contains a good amount of hard rock/heavy metal content (I interviewed such musicians as Rob Halford, Geddy Lee, Joe Elliott, Phil Collen, Warren DeMartini, Lita Ford, etc.), for which I interviewed Kiss' own Bruce Kulick, as well! You'll find "stories behind the videos" for some of metal's most popular videos from the era, including Kiss' "Tears Are Falling," as well as separate chapters that focus entirely on Def Leppard and Van Halen (who were considered MTV's most popular hard rock bands of the era). And...there is also a chapter entitled "Kiss Unmasks on MTV," which includes recollections on the subject from a wide variety of artists and other notables, including Alan Hunter, Joe Elliott, Warren DeMartini, Rik Emmett, Nina Blackwood, Eric Bloom, Carmine Appice, Mark Weiss, Rudy Sarzo, Mike Reno, Fee Waybill, Geddy Lee, Lita Ford, Phil Collen, Bruce Kulick, Pete Angelus, Ann Wilson, and Gerald Casale. But getting back to your original question, I believe Eric and his band mates in Kiss felt like unmasking was the only thing that was going to get Kiss' career back on track. From a musical standpoint, 'Creatures' should have been a very commercially successful album. But it wasn't, and it was clear that the make-up was getting in the way by this point. Hence, the make-up came off, 'Lick It Up' was released, and Kiss' popularity was on the rise once more.
Eric Carr was known for his pranks and funny stories. What was the funniest story you heard about Eric while gathering information for this book?
Songwriter Adam Mitchell told some pretty good stories about hanging out with Eric, including one time when Eric - who was always very particular about getting his, hair, clothes, and "look" just right - stepped out of a car...and directly into a big pile of dog doo-doo! Other colorful tales include Eric trying to convince a friend that the bottled water he was about to drink was tainted, and trying to interrupt Paul Stanley during a backstage romantic encounter.
Eric would be 60 years old if he were still with us. Where do you think he would be today?
I'm quite certain he'd still be playing drums in a band - perhaps in a rock/metal supergroup a la Chickenfoot. And who knows, maybe he would be back in Kiss, donning the fox make-up and costume once more.
After writing a book on Eric Carr's life story, if you could ask Eric one question today, what would it be?
Probably to show me step by step how he obtained that amazing drum sound on 'Creatures of the Night'!
Thanks for the interview, and hope everyone enjoys 'The Eric Carr Story'!
Interview by contributing writer Nick
"The Quig" Clemente
The site that people can find ordering info
(This Biography is not Authorized by The Carr family)
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