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Eric Carmen

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Everything posted by Eric Carmen

  1. Moving on to Democracy and Entitlement. I put these two together, because they kind of go hand in hand. Bands all start out as "democracies" but the concept of a democracy begins with the flawed idea that all of the members of the band are equal, in every way. This, as we all know, is never the case, but, in the beginning, with visions of "A Hard Day's Night" dancing in our heads, it was a lovely dream. And my dream was that I essentially realized my dream of being in The Choir, except now I was the undeclared leader of the band. Be careful what you wish for.. In my dream, Wally was going to step up and become the "John Lennon" of our band. He had the charisma in bucket loads , and he was a terrific guitar player. I would resume my role as "Paul," Dave would take on the "George" part, and Jim could just be...well...Jim! And, in my "perfect world", Wally would start penning tunes like "Ticket To Ride" and "No Reply," and I would write "Go All The Way" and "Let's Pretend," while Dave would come up with the occasional "I Need You" and "Here Comes The Sun." Not literally, of course, but figuratively. Sometimes, we would collaborate, sometimes we would just write by ourselves, but each band member would understand their role, and we would go on to conquer the world. The only problem with my scenario is that it wasn't the same one Wally had in his head, or the one Dave had either. I think, perhaps, in the beginning we were all on the same page, and working toward a common goal. But by the time the songs for the first album were written and recorded, I could already see the dream beginning to unravel. Wally had written "Come Around And See Me" before we began writing for the first album. It was one of the songs we demoed , that helped get Jimmy Ienner's interest. The problem was, all Wally came up with afterwards was "With You In My Life,"which, with all due respect, was not exactly "Ticket To Ride." We attempted collaboration a couple of times on "I Saw The Light" and "Don't Wanna Say Goodbye," but they were not "easy' collaborations. Dave was fairly new to writing, especially for our band, so he came up with "Get It Movin'" and "Rock 'n Roll Mama." And this is where "democracy" and "entitlement" begin to come into the picture. To be continued......
  2. I was indeed in the process of writing "All By Myself" during the last, dark days of Raspberries ( and DARK they were ). No one can ever say for sure, but I can say, with some degree of certainty, "ABM" would NOT have succeeded, had it been released by Raspberries. First of all, if there would have been a fifth Raspberries album, Capitol Records would not have been interested in spending much money promoting it, after the failure of "Starting Over." The way labels decide what to promote is based on past success. If "Starting Over" had sold a million copies and cracked the Billboard Top Ten, perhaps Capitol would have spent some money promoting a "fifth" Raspberries album. But, due to the lack of commercial success of "Starting Over," they would have been hard pressed to justify the funding for another album, let alone a big promotional budget. From "Fresh" to "Side Three" to "Starting Over" there was a downward spiral in record sales, resulting in each release getting fewer dollars for promotion. In that way, labels make the downward spiral a self-fulfilling prophesy, because, it stands to reason, if the last album didn't sell as well as the previous one, and you spend less money promoting the next one, it's bound to do even worse. Each time record sales went down, Capitol spent less money on the next record, and so, of course, it did even worse. A fifth Raspberries album would have received very little promotion from the label, and therefore, would probably have tanked quickly. Most labels aren't in the habit of throwing good money after bad. Capitol had all but given up on us by the time "Starting Over" was released. That's why the album received rave reviews from the critics, but sold the fewest copies of any of our albums. Continuing with this theme, "All By Myself" was my FIRST release on the newly formed Arista Records. Clive flew to Cleveland, listened to me play and sing two-thirds of my first solo album in my living room, and flew back to New York and offered me a contract the next day. I was actually his first "major signing", as Melissa Manchester and Barry Manilow were holdovers when Clive changed the former Bell Records into Arista. Clive and I both sensed the "potential" of "All By Myself," and he was not about to let the first single, by an artist he had signed, personally, fail. Just as Capitol pulled out all the stops for "Go All The Way", Arista pulled out all the stops for "All By Myself." And just as "GATW" became Raspberries first major hit, and signature song, so "ABM" became my first solo hit record and signature song. That just wouldn't have happened at Capitol. Clive had something to prove, Capitol was in retreat. Second, there was no "stigma" attached to "Eric Carmen," as there was to "Raspberries." Radio programmers saw Raspberries as a band in decline. Arista presented me as a new solo artist in "ascent." That alone, made all the difference in the world. And to this mix you have to add the internal problems of Raspberries. As a solo artist, I had a new band whose job was to play exactly what I wanted them to play, no questions asked. They were eager to please, and excited about recording with me. In Raspberries, there would have been problems IMMEDIATELY with my arrangement, because there were no guitars until the solo, and then again until the fade. Wally would have been VERY, VERY UNHAPPY, because Wally was about "personal glory," not what was right for the song. AND he would have been damned unhappy about a seven minute and thirty second piano ballad being the next single. Here's a funny, but also somewhat "telling" story. During the course of rehearsals for the "Reunion Tour", after we had played the first nine or ten shows, it became increasingly apparent that Raspberries didn't have enough "hits" to carry a ninety minute show. I was in charge of writing up the set lists, and this is the way it works. You have to start out BIG, and then the show can move toward lesser known tunes in the middle, but then you have to close BIGGER, and have an encore that's even BIGGER! You have to win the audience IMMEDIATELY. You don't have time to play a couple unfamiliar songs and THEN play a hit. Until you "own" the audience, they will just sit there and wait to see if you're any good. The longer that takes, the more uncomfortable things get on stage. You need to have the audience "with you" from the first song. Fans who owned every Raspberries album weren't a problem, because almost ALL our songs were somewhat familiar to them, but at most of our shows, those fans made up, perhaps 50% of any given audience. The other 50% knew "Go All The Way" and "I Wanna Be With You" and to a lesser extent , maybe "Let's Pretend", "Tonight" and "Overnight Sensation." To the 50% of the audience unfamiliar with all the album cuts, it's mighty hard to hold their interest with five songs, spread out over ninety minutes, and, at some point, the band began to "feel it" onstage. I had made a point of stating, at our first rehearsal, that I had no interest in playing any of my solo stuff, as I knew that would probably make Wally uncomfortable, and the purpose of the Reunion was to play Raspberries songs. Period. At some point, Jim came to me and said he thought we should put "All By Myself" into the set list. It was a HUGE hit, and it would help us get through the show without the inevitable "lull" in the middle of the show where we didn't have any more hits to play. He said he had spoken to Dave, and Dave was "all for it", anything that would help the band win over an audience. I told Jim HE was going to have to bring it up, not me. So, one day we arrived at rehearsal, and Jim suggested adding "ABM" to the set list. Wally immediately reacted with "I DON'T KNOW....???....I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THAT...???!!!" and eventually Jim and Dave convinced him that it was for the good of the band, and Wally begrudgingly agreed. We worked out some pretty cool arpeggiated guitar parts in the chorus that sounded great with Billy Sullivan and Wally "doubling each other." But when we got to the solo, Wally said he'd always thought he could play a better one than the one on the record. He thought Dan Hrdlicka, the lead guitar player of my solo band had played it on the record. Complicating the issue was the fact that Billy Sullivan could play "slide guitar" and Wally couldn't. When I told Wally that, in reality, the late, great Hugh McCracken ( McCartney, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Billy Joel....) had played the solo, he looked a little "shellshocked." All these years, he had thought it "wasn't very good" because he thought Dan Hrdlicka played it, but confronted with the fact that Hugh McCracken had played it, it suddenly became a much better solo than he had thought. With that newfound knowledge, we worked it out so Billy played the solo with the slide bar, the way Hugh did on the record, and Wally doubled the notes with the appropriate "bends" to simulate the part. Played together, the two parts sounded great. The bottom line? Had Raspberries recorded "ABM", that great, triple tracked slide solo would not have been there, and that's what I had always heard in my head. George Harrison's guitar on "Something." And all the sensitive, just behind the beat drum fills, played by Donny Krueger wouldn't have been there either. In short, it wouldn't have been the same record I heard in my head. And THAT'S the record I ended up making. A "no compromise" record and arrangement, because there were no band egos I had to assuage. And that is one more reason that it was better as my first solo record than it would have been as a Raspberries record. I've said before that I always wrote to the band's strengths, which is the only smart thing to do. But I loved The Beach Boys, and Wally HATED them. Scott and Mike would have been game for anything, but I can't imagine ever writing "My Girl" or "Last Night" or "Never Gonna Fall In Love Again" within the confines of the band. By leaving the band, I was free to write without thinking about the strengths ( and tastes ) of the other band members. That freed my mind to write all the songs on my first solo album, and that freedom, including the freedom from conflict, allowed me to write and record an album that was more successful than all of Raspberries albums put together. The best songs I wrote for the band are still really cool, but I had a lot more inside me that being in the band would not have permitted. The band had run it's course, and I was frankly worn out by the never ending fighting with Wally. He wasn't a team player, and I needed to work with musicians who "liked" what I did. I remember the day ( after the physical confrontation in Chicago ) that I told Wally I was leaving the band. We were on a plane flying home from somewhere, and I walked back to where he was sitting and sat down next to him. I explained that, obviously, things had been miserable for quite some time, and that I thought it was time for him to go and pursue his dreams. I said, 'Wally, you've always wanted to be the front man. Here's your chance. Go form a band that plays songs like Free and Bad Company and YOU be the lead singer. You should do what you WANT to do." And his response was "But, hey, man.....you and I BELONG together!" Shortly thereafter, Wally didn't show up at the airport, and we had two weeks of previously booked shows we had to make good on. We frantically tried to find guitar players who could fill in, but it was a complete mess. I think I even ended up trying to play lead on my Rickenbacker twelve string, while singing lead on the first show. We played as a trio that night. It was a disaster. The band sounded terrible, and ended with a "fizzle," without Wally. And that was that.
  3. The "Side Three" package was absolutely "0" to me. My favorite album artwork was the "Beatles For Sale" album, because I was interested in seeing my favorite band looking cooler than any other band, both in "portrait shots" and "Stage shots." "Side Three" may have impressed people who make album covers, but it did absolutely nothing to make the band appear "cooler," and after the fiasco of "Fresh" we definitely needed an image "make over." Once again, I look at Capitol's complete lack of understanding of who we were, and the "Side Three" package reflected exactly that. I'd venture to guess that no one who was a HUGE Raspberries fan, in 1973, thinks the " Side Three" package was terrific. What Raspberries fans REALLY NEEDED, was a totally cool picture of the band, onstage. Not an album package that was "die-cut" and depicted raspberries with whipped cream on a 33 rpm album. Before I was a musician, I was a fan. All I ever wanted to see was the coolest picture of The Who, or The Rolling stones, or The Beatles, onstage with Vox amps and really great guitars. I couldn't have cared less about the "Side Three" cover. It depicted nothing, at a time when the band needed serious "damage control." Having said that, at least it didn't look like a "bootleg", like all our other album covers.
  4. Regarding the album covers and artwork, the band never got to see any of them before they were released, until the "Starting Over" album. I'm not sure why Capitol and/or Jimmy Ienner and CAM Productions didn't care to include us in the loop, but I suspect the thinking was "They're a bunch of kids from Cleveland. What do they know?" I also believe it was a "control" issue, like so many of the other aspects of our career. They didn't want us to think we HAD any control over ANYTHING, from choosing who would be our manager , to choosing the photographers who shot the covers, to approving the "artwork," even to our "sound." On the back of every Beatles album, somewhere, rather unobtrusively, it says "Produced by George Martin." On the back of every Raspberries album, and probably, my first solo album ( I can't remember ) it says, in big, bold type "Production AND SOUND by Jimmy Ienner" and then you see Jimmy's logo, the big smile with the big teeth. We never quite understood why a simple production credit was good enough for George Martin, but not for Jimmy Ienner, but we didn't really care. We LOVED Jimmy, and we didn't understand, back then, that Jimmy was building a brand. The "Jimmy Ienner" brand. And that he was putting everyone on notice that he was responsible, not only for the production, but also for the "SOUND!" The sound of the band on the recording! Thinking back to the first Raspberries album, I'm not so sure I would have wanted to take credit for the "sound." What I remember about the photo session for "Fresh" is that we were in New York City, and it was summertime, and it was a very hot, humid day, and when we arrived at the address where the photographer was set up to shoot, there was no air conditioning. It must have been 85 or 90 degrees in that studio, and here we were wearing shirts and suits. When I see that cover shot, I've always thought we look like Madame Tussaud's wax figures. It was so hot and sticky that the makeup was running down our faces. How anyone could have chosen that photo has always been a complete mystery to me. That photo was more disastrous than the name, "Raspberries." I must confess, the white suits and black shirts and the two-tone shoes were my idea. I recently found a drawing that must have come from some magazine, that I used as the model for those suits, amidst a bunch of my songwriting notes and handwritten lyrics from that period. In all fairness, we had black suits, too, but I think we were afraid of people saying we were "Beatles copycats," so the white suits won the day. Interestingly, the black and white photo on the back cover is WAAAAAAAYYYYY better, and would not have been anywhere near as disastrous, image-wise, but, again, we never got to see any of the pictures. We saw the finished albums the same time the public did. No one wanted our input, and we weren't confident enough, at that point, to INSIST on being part of the process. Keeping in mind, those outfits were conceived and designed in 1971, it's interesting to note that John Travolta is wearing the exact same white suit, black shirt, shirt collar out, over the jacket lapel, in the most famous photo from "Saturday Night Fever",circa 1977. And one day back in 2011, I was perusing the website of Tom Ford, arguably the most important designer of mens and women's clothing in the past fifteen years, and as I was checking out his current line of men's clothing, I found the white suit. I had to laugh, and I sent the picture to Jim Bonfanti with the caption "40 years ahead of our time, again. Right down to the haircuts." To which Jim replied...."Who knew?"
  5. I got my first look at the completed package yesterday, from Tim. It's the same package you will all be receiving. All I can say is WOW! It's bloody perfect!!! Thanks, again to Tim, and a big shout out to the Legacy art department. They really did a fabulous job. At last, I have an album that doesn't look like a "bootleg"!
  6. I spoke with Tim ( who was NOT HAPPY about the situation ) and he assured me that everyone who pre-ordered it through Amazon will get it by March 25th. He said you will get an email from either Amazon or from Sony confirming it.
  7. Buy the friends that "snickered" the new release. Within the booklet are testimonials from Bruce Springsteen, Paul Stanley ( Kiss ), Steve Jones, ( The Sex Pistols ) Slash ( Guns and Roses ) Courtney Love, ( Hole ) Cherie Currie ( The Runaways ), Alex Chilton ( Big Star, The Boxtops ) and Mathew Sweet. Sometimes guys need to be "indemnified" before they can admit to liking music that is something other than Metallica and AC/ DC. They don't think it's "manly" to like "All By Myself." We had so many quotes we didn't have enough room to include Brandon Flowers ( The Killers ), Dave Grohl ( Foo Fighters ) and Greg Dulli ( Afghan Wigs ) who stated recently that " while studying to get his 'croon on' for their new album, he listened to Elvis, Roy Orbison and.....Me! That's pretty good company.
  8. BTW, I look exactly like my Mom's father. Everyone on my Mom's side of the family are attorneys and successful entrepreneurs. On my Dad's side, it was all professional artists and professional musicians. Everyone used to tell me I looked just like my Mother ( who looked just like her Father ) except for my eyes. My eyes were the same as my Aunt Muriel's, my Dad's sister. She was the first woman George Szell ever hired to play in The Cleveland Symphony Orchestra ( he didn't want "girls" in the orchestra ). During WWII, there was a shortage of great violists, so my aunt switched from violin to viola. Her thinking was, " I have a much better chance of getting hired as a violist than as a violinist She was a child prodigy on the violin and my musical mentor. We totally "got" each other, and, if not for her, I might have had a much harder time becoming a musician. My Dad's college degree was in accounting, but when I was growing up, I think he realized he'd seen this movie before. When I dropped out of college to become a full-time musician, it was my Dad's sister that had paved the way for me. When my Aunt Muriel retired from The Cleveland Orchestra in 1994, she was the senior member of the orchestra, having played viola with them for 43 years. There is no doubt in my mind that, but for her influence, I would never have accomplished what I have. During the Raspberries Reunion concerts, I got my family a "Box" at the House Of Blues, just to the right of the stage, with a clear view of everything. After our performance, my Aunt said "I couldn't do what you do. You 'own' the stage, from the moment you walk out. All I do is play the part that Mozart wrote. You arrange, play, sing, produce and have the charisma necessary to be a performer." I was astonished at her statement, but flattered beyond belief. I used to get to sit on stage while the orchestra rehearsed at Severance Hall ( which is now recognized as being one of the two most perfect acoustic halls in the world, along with the symphony hall in Vienna, Austria ). I was kind of their "mascot." I would play in the balcony, hide in the harpist's case ( That caused one rehearsal to come to a complete stop, because they couldn't find me! Where's Ricky????? ) I must tell you that, at my Aunt Muriel's funeral, a few years ago, I did the eulogy, and, I've got to say, there wasn't a finer string section anywhere, that day. The greatest violinists, violists, cellists, and contra-bassist from The Cleveland Symphony were all there. A fitting tribute to one of the most remarkable people, I have ever known, or ever will know. Before she had a full-time symphony position, she taught math and science at a Cleveland High School, and graduated from Western Reserve College ( now Case-Western Reserve ) along with my Dad. She was quite a gal. I miss her a lot.
  9. I know, it's pronounced O-dyessa. Many Russian immigrants in Cleveland, Ohio. One of my daughter's best friends is Becky, pronounced Byecki!
  10. My mom's father was from Odessa. I'm not quite sure where my great grandfather, on my father's side was born. My father's dad was born in London, and emigrated to the United States through Connecticut, then moved to Cleveland, Ohio.
  11. I received this in an email from Tim Smith this morning. "We are aware of the issue. A wrong UPC was uploaded into their system. It is in the process of being corrected if not already. I will double check on the progress."
  12. July 14, 1968. Cyrus Erie opened of The Who at Musicarnival. Quite an evening! I was seventeen years old. Added to "Hindsight" again.
  13. I've added to my original post. I think it has more continuity this way. e
  14. I've been reading the "Renaming (The) Raspberries" thread for a few days, and I think it's one of the most interesting discussions I've ever seen on ec.com. I don't have much time to respond at the moment, but I thought I'd at least begin by putting up this new topic. I started to respond a couple of days ago, didn't have enough time to finish, and when I went back, later to write more, what I had written was gone. Let me give you a little bit of insight regarding my mindset back in the late 60's and early 70's. Almost all the music I loved, in the beginning, was created by "bands." As essential as Jim/ Roger McGuinn and his Rickenbacker 12 string were to The Byrds, what "made" "Mr Tambourine Man," for me, was the harmonies. It was McGuinn's lead vocal, but without David Crosby's high harmony part, it wouldn't have even been close to being the same record. And as good as "Ticket To Ride" was as a song, it was John's lead vocal and Paul's harmony above it that "made" THAT record. I never wanted to be a "solo" artist, because all of the magic was being part of a vocal blend like John and Paul had. To this day, the stuff that got me off most, onstage, was singing the bridge of "Baby's In Black" with Wally, or Paul's part on "Ticket To Ride" while Wally sang John's part. So THAT'S where I was comin' from in those early days. The other thing you need to know, and I've talked about this before, is that "The Choir" was like "The Beatles," but on the "local" level. They played all the same music I loved (Byrds, Beatles, Hollies, Who, Stones) plus they had really long hair, and great equipment (does anyone remember how important THAT used to be?) and they were just plain cool. And then, "It's Cold Outside" was released, and they had the number one record in Cleveland , and then it charted nationally and it looked like they were REALLY going to make it. I wanted to be in The Choir more than anything in the whole world (except, maybe, being in The Beatles). So it is from that vantage point, standing in the audience, looking up at that stage, hearing the music I loved, played with the right chords, on great instruments, through big, cool amplifiers, LOUDER than anyone else's, by a bunch of skinny guys with long hair, who looked like they were having a ball, while all the eyes of the girls in the crowd were fixated on that stage, that the story of the creation of Raspberries begins. At that point in my life, I was a shy, skinny introverted kid. But I dreamed BIG dreams. And when I saw Wally playing that Rickenbacker 12 string, while chewing a big wad of gum, and just generally being a complete "badass," I recognized that he and I could be that perfect "Yin and Yang" combination, if only I could get into the band. To make a long story short, I had been rehearsing a new band that had been formed from the remnants of my high school band, and another local band, "The Rebel Kind." I had approached Kenny Margolis, the lead singer and keyboardist of the band, shortly after both of our bands had broken up, and suggested that we should form a band with two lead singers, who both played keyboards. Kenny brought his drummer, Ange LaMarco, and I brought guitarist Marty Murphy, and we rehearsed in the basement of Ange's dad's beauty salon. We added a girl singer, Karen Shane, and after about three months of rehearsal we were actually sounding really good, playing songs by The Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, Procol Harum, and a lot of other diverse stuff. Every day, Kenny would tell me stories about The Choir, knowing how infatuated I was with them. His band had opened for them on numerous occasions, and he delighted in telling me what "stupid morons and hillbillies " they were. I would stare at him in disbelief as he ran my idols down, and I remember frequently telling him his stories couldn't possibly be true. He would just laugh. One day, I arrived at rehearsal to find Kenny packing up his gear. When I asked him what he was doing, he said "I'm joining The Choir." Dumbfounded, I asked him why he would jump ship to join the "stupid morons and hillbillies" and he replied "It's just business." And with that, he hauled his gear up the stairs, loaded it into his car and drove away, leaving the rest of us stunned, standing in that basement knowing we had just wasted three months rehearsing for nothing. I was pissed. And I was determined to do something about it. I called a cute, local "groupie" and asked her if she could get me the phone number of The Choir's manager, Ray Taylor, and she said she could. Within 24 hours she called me and gave me his number. I mustered up all my courage and called him. The phone call went something like this: "Hi Ray, you don't know me, but my name is Eric Carmen and I've been rehearsing in a band with Kenny Margolis for three months, and he just quit our band and announced he was joining yours. I've never been very good at shameless self promotion, but I think, before you make your final decision, you should let me have an audition. I play piano (with BOTH hands) and guitar, and drums, and I can sing (higher than Kenny) and I write songs, as well, and....overall I'm a better fit for The Choir than Kenny is." There was a long silence on the other end of the phone, and then he said "We're playing at the Lorain Hullaballoo this weekend. Why don't you come out and we'll give you an audition." So I drove out to the West Side and I ended up talking to Dave, Wally and Jim for a few minutes, but I kept wondering when I was going to get the chance to audition for them. It turned out that there was no keyboard there for me to play, and when the gig was over, they all just went home. I later learned that their manager had told them about this "wonder boy" who wanted to audition, and that they'd all had a pretty good laugh about it. And that was that. Kenny joined their band. In the Shindig magazine article, Wally, rather disingenuously, made some statement about me "failing the audition." In truth, their was no audition. I never got to play, or sing or do anything else. Kenny was, and still is, a talented guy, but I was a much better match for the band. In some way, however,it was actually a good thing that I didn't get the audition, because, in hindsight, had I auditioned and been hired, I would have been the "junior member" of an already successful band. "The New Guy." When they took Kenny, I made a vow that, six months from then, they would regret that choice, because I would have the best band in Cleveland, and almost six months to the day, Wally was fired from The Choir ( along with Dave Burke, their ASTONISHINGLY GREAT bass player). Wally came to see Cyrus Erie at Mentor Hullaballoo, and, after the show, he walked up to the stage and said "You were right. We should'a got you." I called the guys in the band, and the following day, I called Wally and asked him if he would like to join Cyrus Erie. He said "Yeah," and Cyrus Erie was soon the preeminent band in Cleveland, and on it's way to a recording deal with Epic Records in New York. We were eighteen years old when we signed that deal and flew to New York to record our first "professional record." With Sandy Linzer ("A Lover's Concerto") and Mike Petrillo ("Tell It To The Rain") as our producers, we headed into Columbia's Studio "C" to record three songs, "Sparrow", "It Won't Be The Same Without You" and a "B" side, that was supposed to "suck", "Get The Message." This is starting to sound like the book I will one day write, so I'm going to have to skip around a bit. Otherwise, it will end up being a thousand pages and we'll all be very old. So, to recap the story so far...I saw and heard The Choir. I imagined myself in that band, adding whatever I could add to what was already great. I started a new band with Kenny Margolis and rehearsed for three months. Kenny quit our band and joined The Choir. I asked them to let me audition before they made their final choice, but never got the chance. I went off to college, and a friend of mine met Don Ladanyi, the manager of Cyrus Erie, who was looking for a drummer so that he could bring Mike McBride, who was then the drummer, out front to do his very convincing Mick Jagger impersonation. My friend told Don he "knew a guy who played drums," and Don called me in for an audition. I had never played drums in a band before, except on a couple of songs in my high school band, but I showed up for the audition, sat down behind Mike's drum kit, and I bashed my way through a few Rolling Stones songs and got the job. Their lead guitar player was on vacation when I auditioned, and I didn't think much of their rhythm guitar player, so I quietly suggested that I knew a better guitar player, and later brought my friend Marty Murphy into the band. Cyrus Erie then fired their rhythm guitar player, and, when their lead guitarist returned from his vacation he became incensed that his buddy, Rob, had been "dismissed" during his absence. We had our first gig booked at The Agora (I think it might have been on New Year's Eve, 1969-1970.) Tim (the lead player) decided to teach us a lesson, so he came to the show, but never took the stage. He stood in the back of the room expecting us to crash and burn without his guitar playing. Mike, Bob, Marty and I sat backstage waiting for Tim to show up, and when we had delayed as long as we could, and it became apparent Tim wasn't coming, I told the guys that I could play guitar, and keyboards (a little fact I had kept to myself, until then) and that Marty and I could share guitar duty, and if Mike went back to the drums we could probably fake our way through the gig. So Mike went back behind his drum kit, and I pulled my guitar out, and we took to the stage and the "New" Cyrus Erie was born. Tim was so furious, standing in the back of the room, that he strode up to the stage and started to remove his equipment, right in the middle of a song! The whole situation had now become rather comedic, so, as Tim attempted to disassemble his amp, and the little lighting board at the front of the stage, we kicked on the strobe light, just to make everything look even more ridiculous, and Marty pulled his guitar off and pretended to smash it, Pete Townshend style, against Tim's amp. With the strobe light flashing, Tim really thought we were destroying his gear, so he leaped on stage and, in between the bright flashes, attempted to keep his balance, and find his amplifier. At some point, I remember him trying to unscrew the colored light bulbs ( which were VERY, VERY, VERY HOT by that time ) and I could literally smell his seared flesh as he furiously tried to take those light bulbs out. It was quite a scene. The "New Cyrus Erie" quickly began gaining popularity, and then there was the night Wally showed up at Mentor Hullabaloo. Fast forward to Columbia Studio "C". I'm going to skip over Cyrus Erie, recording in NY, for the moment and get to "Band Names." In hindsight, the name "Raspberries" probably didn't help our career. Although, when I think back on it, the name never seemed to hurt us when we started out, and it didn't hurt us when we played clubs all around Northeastern Ohio. The moment when the name became an issue, was when Capitol released our first album. You may or may not remember the story of how we found out that our album had been released. Dave and I lived in two different high-rise apartment buildings on Lakeshore Blvd, once affectionately labeled "The Gold Coast," because the buildings were right on the lake, and brand new, and pretty plush by 70's standards. One night, Dave called me in a panic. He said he had just received a call from a female fan of the band, and that she told him she had just purchased our new album. She went on to say it "actually wasn't the album, but the eight-track, because the guy at the record store told her the album had been delayed a bit because when you squeeze it, Raspberry jam is going to ooze out." First, Dave challenged her by asking her what songs were on the album, and when she replied correctly, he knew she indeed had purchased the eight-track. Of course, the band had no idea the album or eight track had been released. Nobody bothered to tell us. So Dave called me, and the next day I called Jimmy Ienner in New York, and he assured me raspberry jam was not going to ooze out of the record, but there WAS going to be a "scratch-and-sniff sticker" on the shrink wrap that smelled like...what else, raspberries. Initially, we all thought that was kind of hokey, but it did seem to attract a lot of attention. The problem was that Capitol had missed the meaning of the name (the Bronx cheer) and now we were forever going to be associated with the fruity smelling stickers, and fuzzy little berries. Not the image we were going for. I think the name might have been ok, but for that sticker, and the assumption we were named after fruit. Add to that the very "uneven" quality of the recording of the first album. It didn't really sound like us, at all. Everyone involved was new to the recording game, the band, Jimmy Ienner, and even our engineer, Shelly Yakus. We were all just starting out, and Shelly was the only one in the room who had a bit of experience. The fact that we had two weeks to record and mix the entire album, and a budget of $20,000 didn't help. There was no time to experiment with different microphones, or discuss why the guitars sounded thin, and the drums sounded small. In the room, they sounded anything but wimpy, but what we heard in the room wasn't making it onto tape. To be continued...
  15. My first show in Japan. Special guest star of the Yamaha World Song Festival. 1978, at The Budokan. 10,000 seats, sold out. The climax of the three day festival. Yamaha flew my band ( Davey Johnstone, Cooker LoPresti ( Elton's band ) Duane Hitchings ( Rod's band ) my singers, conductor ( Barry Fasman ) and my drummer Ross Salamone to Tokyo, to play a 35 minute show with a 55 piece orchestra. It was the most incredible experience of my life. I think we opened with "Marathon Man" and when the orchestra kicked in, it literally lifted me off my feet. The stage was incredible, the orchestra was even better, and my band was at the top of their game. We played what I would call a "Beatle set" ( thirty minutes, plus an encore ) and blew the roof off the place. When we arrived in Tokyo, we walked through a huge, underground marketplace and eventually emerged at street level. I saw 3' by 6' posters of me in every department store window, and on the side of every bus. The hotel marquis said "Welcome Eric Carmen" and then in smaller letters, "Welcome Bolshoi Ballet." We had apparently arrived at the same time, and as we walked through the underground market, we attempted to say "Hello" to the dancers. Among them was Alexander Gudenov, who was defecting from Russia, unbeknownst to us. The Bolshoi dancers were flanked by VERY serious KGB officers, and no one would even lift their heads when we said "Hello." We were staying at the same hotel, and I found it amazing that I had billing over the Bolshoi Ballet! The Japanese audience at the Budokan was the most appreciative audience I had ever played for. Somewhere, there exists a tape recording ( audio and video ) of that performance. It was a totally incredible experience that I will never forget. I got in a cab, one day, and the cab driver had Mozart on his radio. I realized I "wasn't in Kansas anymore." Here was an entire country, where classical music was taught, and listened to, not by some "elite" group, but by everyone. There was no crime. None. It was like being in New York City ( which is my favorite city in the US ) but every single person was polite, courteous, and couldn't wait to help me, in any way they could. People who had "colds" wore hospital masks over their faces, so they wouldn't infect anyone else. I have never before, or since, experienced the feeling that we Americans were complete "barbarians." I met Whitney Houston, who was accompanying her mother, Cissy, during that festival. She was fifteen, at the time, and the sweetest, most humble girl I have ever met. Just a fresh faced teenager, who no one had yet discovered. She thought meeting ME was something special! Years later, after she had signed with Arista, I heard her sing, and realized she could sing the phonebook and give you goosebumps, It didn't take a "genius" to figure out that this beautiful, talented girl was destined for stardom. I met Whitney many times over the next decade, and every time, she was as sweet, and humble as she was the very first time I met her in Tokyo. Her death was a terrible tragedy., a testimonial to what the music business can do to a sensitive, delicate soul. What a horrible, senseless loss. I spent 10 days in Tokyo, on that first trip, and I came back to America with a totally different idea about the world, in general. I have never before, or since, met a warmer, more wonderful, sensitive, and kind group of people. I have travelled to Japan numerous times, since then, and I will always cherish my experiences there. I understand that people who served in the military during World War II may have a completely different take on things than I do. All I can say is that you cannot judge a people by the acts of their government, during wartime. I love the Japanese people with all my heart, and i thank them for "getting" my music and being so kind and accepting to me.
  16. I have to admit, listening to these 30 tracks, back to back, and reading the comments from Bruce Springsteen, Paul Stanley, Slash, Steve Jones and others that appear within the package, I'm starting to be pretty darn impressed with me! Haha! When I heard the "live" version of "That's Rock And Roll" the first time, I thought to myself "Wow, I had no idea I was that good a singer"! It was the encore at The Bottom Line, so I had already been singing for almost 90 minutes, I've gotta say, there wasn't a bad note to be found. And this was a mix straight off the board. No effects, no reverb, nothing. You guys let me know what you think on March 25th.
  17. You get "Make me Lose Control" instead. Maybe we'll use the "Long Live Rock And Roll" demo sometime in the future.
  18. Oh, and by the way, the CD "package" is just as good. I had to laugh out loud after viewing the artwork for THIS package. All I could think about was the last, lame Capitol Raspberries compilation, where the cover had a picture of the band, and my eyes were closed. A lot of thought went into THAT package, NOT! e
  19. It occurred to me, after reading Bernie's review of Disc One, that maybe I should try to explain what it is that makes this compilation different from all the others. It's a little complicated, but I will explain it as best I can. The human ear is capable of hearing frequencies from perhaps 22,000 cycles, on the high end, to 40 cycles, on the low end. Every note,on the musical scale "vibrates" at a certain rate. The lower the note, the lower the vibration rate. The higher the note, the higher the vibration rate. 22,000 cycles is where you can hear the sibilance on any word I sang with an "S", the highest frequency of a cymbal, the resin on the bows of the violinists, etc, etc. 40 cycles is the frequency that gives the warm, rich, bottom end to a bass guitar, or a contra bass, or perhaps the bottom end of the "kick drum." Every frequency in between 22,000 cycles and 40 cycles, is where every sound on a record ends up. The best engineers and producers understand which frequency is flattering to the human ear, on every instrument. The others don't. The remarkable achievement of Mark Wilder, the genius remastering engineer of "The Essential...", is that he not only has the best ears ever, but he also knows, from experience, which frequencies are flattering for the piano, and which frequencies are flattering for the strings, and which frequencies make the kick drum punch you in the chest ( as it should ) and which frequencies make the bass sound round and warm, and make the whole record sound rich. This is what Bernie has been trying to explain with "superlatives" in his review. Every song, with the exception of "Brand New Year" on these two discs has been remastered from the original analogue mix. What is that, you ask? Let me explain. Every record I've ever made, prior to "Brand New Year" was recorded on tape, and mixed down to 1/4 inch tape. That is called "analogue." In order to enhance "The Essential...", all of the original analogue, two track mixes had to be carefully transferred to the digital format. That was Mark Wilder's first job. After that, we had some control of the original, stereo mixes. Nothing was remixed from the original 24 track master tapes. We never had them. What we DID have is the original, two track, quarter inch, stereo masters. That's what we worked from. Mark Wilder deserves fan letters from everyone. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me, since Tim Smith. Mark is, without a doubt, the most brilliant engineer I have ever worked with. He is the sole reason why "The Essential..." is incomparable to any other compilation. I would compare Mark's "golden ears" to Sir George Martin's. That is the highest praise I could ever attribute to anyone. He, and Tim Smith are the reason that this collection sound nothing like any other compilation of my music before. In the recording studio, you must rely on the ears of your producer and engineer. If they hear the same things you do, all is well. If they don't, the results of your efforts are disappointing. It is the difference between a great song becoming "the first single" or simply an album track, that has little impact. Such is life. When I walked into the studio to record my first solo album, I would have bet you that "My Girl" was the first single. It didn't work out that way. It ended up sounding small and thin, and not at all the way I imagined it, until now. Mark Wilder's ears have made the newly remastered "My Girl" sound the way I imagined it, in 1975. God bless him. There is not a single song on this 30 song, double CD, that has not benefitted GREATLY from Mark Wilder's involvement. Please send your fan letters to him. That is what Bernie has been trying to say. All the superlatives in the world cannot prepare you for the difference between this new, double CD, and all the others that came before it. They're just not in the same ballpark. You are going to hear things you have never dreamed of hearing before on this CD. The vocals are so clear I can pick out each individual singer in my band, from "Overnight Sensation," to "My Girl" to "Last Night." ​Mark Wilder understands exactly what frequencies bring out the best in the piano, the guitars, the background vocals, the drums and bass. No one I have ever worked with before ( with all due respect to the contributions of all my engineers and producers, has ever had such a profound affect on my music. After all my frustrating years in the music business, trying to translate what I heard in my in my head, to tape, this is the first time I have ever been "pleased" with the results. This album sounds fucking great! That is the best endorsement I could ever give you, You will not be disappointed, I promise. Thanks to Tim Smith and Mark Wilder, you are going to get to hear what I imagined when I wrote these songs. I cannot begin to express how happy I am about this release. Honestly, if it sounded anything like any other compilation, I would never encourage anyone to buy it. I never have in the past. This is the ONE and ONLY version you ever need to hear. It is as close to what I imagined as it could possibly be, without re-mixing the 24 track master tapes. Signing off, sleepy, Love you guys, e
  20. First off, let me just say "Thank you" to everyone for your love and support. It means a lot to me. Second, I've got to tell you that what Wally said during his interview with Shindig is not something he hadn't said before, a thousand times, and, honestly, it's more annoying, than disturbing, at this point. I don't think he intentionally tried to "rain on my parade," because I doubt when he did the interview, he even knew about the upcoming release. Having said that, let me ask everyone to ponder this: Why would Wally have stayed in the band and continued to work with me if I indeed HAD stolen the credit from him? If it had happened to me, I would have quit, right on the spot. And why didn't Wally ever claim that he "wrote" any other intros to any of my other songs? Answer: Because he didn't, and he didn't have the benefit of a "typo" to help "sell" the story. If Wally really had the talent to "write" the intro of "Go All The Way," why not use that same talent to write great intros on his own songs? Let me tell you one, funny story. Sometime, after Raspberries first album, before we began writing for the second album, we had a band meeting and I asked everyone this question: "What song, from our first album, would you pick as the sort of "jumping off place" that represents the direction the band should consider when we each sit down to write for the next album?" Jim said "Go All The Way." Dave said "Go All The Way." I said "Go All The Way." Wally said "Rock 'n Roll Mama." I think even Dave was a bit taken aback by Wally's choice. I asked Wally why he had chosen "Rock 'n Roll Mama." and he replied, "Because I get to play more solos in it." And that was always the problem. It was about "self-glorification" over what was best for the band. I knew, from the first time I saw The Choir, that Wally was the perfect "balance" for me, and that together, we could do some serious damage. Bands all start out as 'democracies,' but, in truth of fact, they never stay that way, because there is rarely an equal distribution of talent, charisma and drive. Eventually, one or two guys "emerge"from the pack. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Don Henley and Glenn Frey. When that happens, the other members of the band have two choices. In the bands that go on to succeed, the other band members choose to support the guy(s) who have "emerged." The other choice is to challenge them, both for the spotlight, and for the direction, and the infighting begins. The bands that fall into the second category eventually implode, as did Raspberries. The key to making bands work is for everyone to recognize their role within the group. You can't have two "Mick Jaggers." Keith was smart enough to understand that being "Keith" was enough, and that he and Mick made a great team. And that is the saddest part of the story, for me. Wally and I WERE a great team. But I ended up the lead singer, and Wally ended up the lead guitar player, and that just wasn't ever enough for him. And so it goes. That's it. I'm done now. Moving on. e
  21. Natalia, Both of my Grandfathers were born in Russia. e
  22. Arista/Legacy Recordings put together a phenomenal package, which I viewed for the first time, today. It is by far the best artwork, and package I have ever been associated with. It's as first rate as Mark Wilder's remastering, and Tim Smith's concept and production. Before I began working with Darian, Nicky and Mikey in the studio, I was told that they were to be referred to as "The Brian Wilson Band," NOT The Wondermints, by Brian's management. Same with Jeffrey Foskett. Last weekend, Shindig Magazine released issue no. 37, featuring an interview with Wally Bryson and Scott McCarl. It was probably six to eight pages long. Scott, as usual was a complete gentleman. Unfortunately, most of the interview was with Wally, who proceeded to trot out the same tired BS he's been harping about for forty years. There were, however, some amazing new quotes from Mr Bryson, including this one: "Go All The Way is what a REAL ROCK BAND SOUNDS LIKE, right up until the singing starts." With that one sentence, Wally demonstrated that he never understood the concept of the band. Not then, and not now. In another sentence he talked about having to "coach" me "to sing like Daltrey, Marriott and Paul Rodgers." As if. As you know, I have always tried to take the high road when these things have occurred in the past, but today Legacy suggested that maybe I should send a letter to the editor of Shindig, which they would undoubtedly print. I'm considering it. The whole "I wrote the intro of 'Go All The Way'" story is absolute rubbish, and I can blow holes in it six different ways. In truth of fact, not one single songwriter or musician that I have worked with in the past forty-five years has EVER accused me of "stealing anything from them," except for Wally Bryson. As a matter of fact, here is an example of how "real" songwriters work. During the writing sessions for the Winter Dreams album, Andy Goldmark and I got ridiculously hung up, trying to get one lyric line that we just weren't happy with. One day, Andy called Steve Kippner ("Genie In A Bottle") and asked him to come help. The song was "Every Time I Make Love To You" and Andy and I just couldn't come up with anything satisfactory for that one lyric line. Steve is FULL of positive energy, and, after a couple of hours, he came up with a line Andy and I had batted around, 24 hours before, but somehow, when it came from Steve, with his unbridled enthusiasm, it suddenly seemed "OK." We gave Steve one third of the copyright. No questions asked. That's how it works when you work with "pros." Perhaps the most famous example of all time is "Layla." That incredible opening lick was played, and created by Duane Allman. Did Duane get a writer credit? Ummm...no, because he did not write one note of the melody, one chord supporting the melody, or one word of the lyric. When Clapton recorded his "unplugged" version of "Layla", the opening lick was gone. Did the song still stand on its own? You bet'cha! That's because a song is comprised of the melody, the chords and the lyrics. Period. I have worked with countless session guitarists (Steve Lukather, Davey Johnstone, Danny Kortchmar, Dan Huff, Hugh McCracken, Michael Landeau) and every single one of them did the same thing Wally did. They helped me find the right voicing for a guitar part I heard in my head. Not one of them was ever foolish enough to think that doing their job should translate into a writer credit. Taking Wally's logic a step further, should the cowbell player on the intro of "Honky Tonk Women" get a writer credit? Or maybe it's Charlie Watts' great drum intro. Maybe he get's a writer credit. And so on, and so forth. We could discuss countless examples until the end of time. The bottom line is this "playing" the intro is not "writing" the intro, and, if you need any further proof, I would refer you to the bridge of "GATW" which uses the same chords, played in the same rhythm as the intro. Since everyone in the band knows I brought the song in "finished," how could I have written the bridge unless I already had those chords and structure? Answer: I couldn't have. The reality is I played the chords on the piano (as well as the rest of the song) and then asked Wally to show me different ways they could be played. The second fret didn't work, the fifth fret didn't work. The third try was the charm. And that was that. Historic guitar intro, done. Wally was fulfilling his job as the lead guitar player, just as I would have been fulfilling my job as the pianist, if I came up with an intro to one of Wally's songs. And that's that. I'm tired, and I hate negative energy. This was such a positive day, otherwise. G'night kids e
  23. The combination of song choices for "The Essential..." began with Tim Smith's choices, and, tip of my hat to Tim, his good taste was the basis for most of the song selections, including "The Way We Used To Be." Had he NOT chosen that song, I would have tried to lobby for it, since I believe it's the best song on the Geffen album, as well, but he'd already made the good choice. After I got involved, there was a little 'give and take' on the inclusion of certain tracks, and exclusion of others, and the sequencing, but Tim and I turned out to be a pretty good "team." Of course, most of the album is chronological, with a few exceptions, but I really have no problem with the songs chosen. Are there other songs I like, as well? Sure! But maybe we'll save those for the ultimate box set. All I can say is this: "My Girl", "Last Night" "It Hurts Too Much" "The Way We Used To Be" and many more NOW sound like bonafide hit records. I listened to "It Hurts Too Much" tonight and thought to myself "How could Clive have ignored this? It's a smash hit, with decent promotion. But, hey....maybe a few people will hear this collection and wonder how in the world they didn't hear all of these songs before. That's really the whole point, here. e
  24. 45 years, from 1969 to 2014, in just about two hours! Turn it up loud, and rock on! e
  25. Disc: 1 1. Get The Message (w/ The Cyrus Erie) 2. Go All the Way (w/ Raspberries) 3. I Wanna Be With You (w/ Raspberries) 4. Let's Pretend (w/ Raspberries) 5. Tonight (w/ Raspberries) 6. Overnight Sensation (Hit Record) (w/ Raspberries) 7. Sunrise 8. My Girl 9. All By Myself 10. Never Gonna Fall in Love Again 11. Last Night 12. Starting Over (Live 1976) 13. That's Rock N Roll (Live 1976) 14. Run Away 15. Love Is All That Matters Disc: 2 1. Boats Against the Current 2. Marathon Man 3. She Did It 4. Nowhere To Hide 5. Change of Heart 6. Hey Deanie 7. Desperate Fools 8. Someday 9. It Hurts Too Much 10. Tonight You re Mine 11. The Way We Used To Be 12. Hungry Eyes 13. Make Me Lose Control 14. Ecstasy (Live 2005) (w/ Raspberries) 15. Brand New Year
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