Did you guys REALLY think I’d let this day go by, after pouring my heart out for Freddie Mercury this morning, and NOT do something for the late great Eric Carr?? As I’m sure you know, today marks 27 years since our drummer passed away from cancer, and it hasn’t gotten any easier to deal with in the ensuing years. Rather than doing another album retrospect I thought we’d go down a bit of a different path. So, welcome to Klassic Koncerts, Damian’s first ever KISS show (Jim, don’t expect this to be a regular thing!!). It was January 29, 1988 and I was finally getting to see my favorite band of all time, live and in person. It was a Friday, and if you think I was focused at school that day you need a check-up from the neck up.
During the ride from my house to Nassau Coliseum my poor mother had to deal with me, Joe, Frankie, and Chris (R.I.P.) freaking out in the car over the fact that we were finally gonna see the Gods live!! After we were dropped off there was a bit of a ticket mishap (Joe, shut the fuck up!!), but we were finally escorted downstairs to the floor. That’s right, people. We were gonna be maybe 20 feet from my favorite band of all-time, KISS!! The anticipation had been building like a volcano ready to erupt, and when the band took to the stage to open with “Love Gun” I lost my fucking mind. I couldn’t believe I was witness to such greatness, live and in the flesh. This was followed by another Klassic in “Cold Gin” before the band tore into “Bang Bang You.”
“Fits Like a Glove” has long been one of my favorites of the non-makeup era, so hearing it on that night was pretty fucking awesome. Plus, watching Gene Simmons hold the crowd in the palm of his hand for the line, “Hot knife….” and hearing the whole place go, “Through buuuuuuuuutterrrrr” was obviously amazing. What is also cool is that through all these songs, the glue that held everything together was Eric. He knew just what to play to accentuate a song where it needed to be, and he also knew when to really turn on the jets to get the crowd all riled up, as is evidenced here.
“Shout It Out Loud” gave way to Bruce Kulick’s guitar solo, then Eric’s drum solo. This one always stuck out to me because not only did he totally slay, but he had his electronics rigged to do the whole “O-eh O-eh!” thing from “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” by my girl Gloria Estefan. Every time he hit that, he then went into some crazy drum histrionics, which the crowd loved. You wanna talk underrated drummers, let’s start with Eric Carr. At age 15 never did I think I’d get to hear “War Machine” live, but sure as shit, that’s what KISS did next. The grin on my face probably made me look like The Joker. I didn’t care, it was awesome!!
Coming out of this was “Reason to Live” which made me tear up because my father passed away on May 16, 1987, and this one has always made me think of him. So yeah, there I was eight months later, crying on the floor of Nassau Coliseum, at a KISS show, and still loving every minute of it. Of course “Heaven’s On Fire” rocked our faces off, as did the triple play of “I Love It Loud”, “Lick It Up”, and “Rock and Roll All Nite.” When Paul Stanley said goodnight I knew they weren’t done; they had more to give us before we went out into the cold winter’s night. The encore of “Tears Are Falling’ and “Detroit Rock City” totally brought the house down, and then it was truly time to say goodnight.
I will never forget my first KISS show. More importantly I will never forget how amazing it was to see this band live with Eric Carr on drums. That is a memory I will hold dear for the rest of my days. When he joined, he gave the band a shot in the arm they needed after a couple of years of complacency. But from day one he came in ready to rock, and the guys responded to that. I will never get over the death of one of my favorite drummers of all time. But through the magic of DVDs and the internet he’s never more than two clicks away. Rest In Peace, Eric. You are truly missed by all your KISS family, not just as a drummer, but as a person. Hey Little Caesar, nobody messin’ with you…
IN LOVING MEMORY OF ERIC CARR (July 12, 1950 – November 24, 1991)