Eric Carmen was born in 1950 in the small town of Lyndhurst
Ohio, the proud son of Ruth and Elmer Carmen. From an early age, Eric had a strong musical sense
, even as young as 2 he would perform impressions
of Tony Bennett
for his parents. By the age of 3 he was enrolled in a music class at the Cleveland Institute of Music
, and by 6 he had begun to take violin lessons from his aunt, a violinist with the world renowned Cleveland Orchestra
. By the time the Beatles
hit the scene, Eric was already an accomplished pianist and had begun writing
his own songs, and the early influence of the Beatles became apparent in his work.
In high school, Eric became fond of rock and roll and played in several small bands at his school. At Carroll University, he joined a rock band called Cyrus Erie, with whom he recorded several singles for Epic Records, none of which ever made it. Shortly after that, the band broke up and Eric joined up with Wally Bryson, Jim Bonfanti, and Dave Smalley to form one of the most influential rock groups of the 70's, the Raspberries.
Much like the fruit, their music was tart and strong and quickly attracted a strong following in the Cleveland Rock Scene, long renowned for its experimental and influential place in American pop culture. The band signed with Capital Records and scored a #5 hit on the Billboard charts with the epic song "All the Way". The music evolved into power pop driven Beatles influenced rock, and if that's not enough to get your juices flowing, well, you must be braindead. Eric acknowleged that his home town of Cleveland had a lot to do with his success, saying it was a lot like Liverpool in the 60's.
Unfortunately, the teen pop image of the band started to hurt them and the next two albums went nowhere. Smalley and Bonfati left the band in 1973 to pursue a harder rock sound, but the Raspberries recruited drummer Michael McBride and bassist Scott McCarl and continued on. But it was all over for them, Eric noted "Even though rock critics loved what we did, we couldn't get those album-buying 18-year-old guys to go out and buy our records". The world can be cruel Eric, don't I know it.
In 1975, the band officially disbanded and Eric struck out on his solo career. His first album was released on Arista in 1975 and had three top 40 hits, including the queen of prom songs, "All By Myself". He released several more albums on Arista, but they failed to catch on. Then, in 1984 he scored another hit with his song "Almost Paradise" from the movie Footloose, yet again dominating the high school prom scene. Can life get any better than this?
Not content to sit idly by, Eric had another movie hit with the emotional pop single "Make Me Lose Control" from the critically acclaimed Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Since then Eric released one more album, Winter Dreams, in 1999. He currently resides back home in Northeast Ohio where he lives with his wife and two children.
with the Raspberries