Eric Howard Carmen (born August 11, 1949) is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and keyboardist. He scored numerous hit songs across the 1970s and 1980s, first as a member of the Raspberries (who had a million-selling single with "Go All the Way"), and then with his solo career, including hits such as "All by Myself", "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again", "She Did It", "Hungry Eyes", and "Make Me Lose Control".
|Birth name||Eric Howard Carmen|
|Born||August 11, 1949|
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
|Origin||Lyndhurst, Ohio, U.S.|
|Genres||Pop rock, power pop, soft rock|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, songwriter, musician|
|Instruments||Vocals, keyboards, guitar, piano|
|Associated acts||Raspberries, The Beach Boys, Shaun Cassidy, Andrew Gold, Burton Cummings, Michael Damian, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band|
From a family of Russian Jewish immigrants, Carmen was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in Lyndhurst, Ohio. He has been involved with music since early childhood. By the age of two, he was entertaining his parents with impressions of Jimmy Durante and Johnnie Ray. By age three, he was in the Dalcroze Eurhythmics program at the Cleveland Institute of Music. At six years old, he took violin lessons from Muriel Carmen (his aunt), a violinist of the Cleveland Orchestra. By age 11, he was playing piano and dreaming about writing his own songs. The arrival of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones altered his dream slightly. By the time he was a sophomore at Charles F. Brush High School, Carmen was playing piano and singing in rock 'n' roll bands including the Fugitives, the Harlequins, the Sounds of Silence and the Cyrus Erie.
Though classically trained in piano, Carmen became a self-taught guitarist. At 15, he started guitar lessons, but when his teacher's approach did not fit with what he wanted, he decided to teach himself. He bought a Beatles chord book and studied guitar for the next four months.
Tenure with Raspberries
Carmen became serious about being a musician while attending John Carroll University. He joined a band named Cyrus Erie, which recorded several unsuccessful singles for Epic records. Cyrus Erie guitarist Wally Bryson had been playing with friends Jim Bonfanti and Dave Smalley in one of Cleveland's most popular bands, the Choir, which scored a minor national hit in 1967 with the single "It's Cold Outside".
When Cyrus Erie and the Choir collapsed at the end of the 1960s, Carmen, Bryson, Bonfanti and Smalley teamed up to form Raspberries, a rock and roll band who were among the chief exponents of the early seventies power pop style. Carmen was the lead singer of the group, and wrote or co-wrote all their hit songs. In 1975, after the breakup of Raspberries, he started his solo career, de-emphasizing harder rock elements in favor of soft rock and power ballads, which were already the hallmark of Carmen tracks on Raspberries albums.
In 2004, Carmen, along with original Raspberries members Jim Bonfanti, Wally Bryson, and Dave Smalley, re-formed the band for a series of sold-out live performances in cities across the United States. On that tour, the Raspberries recorded a live album of their hits at The House of Blues on Sunset Strip, in Hollywood. Both the show and album received critical acclaim. Carmen himself has stated that he planned to write new harder-edged songs for the band to perform in the same vein as those that the Raspberries performed in the 1970s.
His first two solo singles were chart hits in 1976. Both were built around themes by Sergei Rachmaninoff. The first of these singles, "All by Myself" – based on Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 – hit number 2 in the United States, and number 12 in the United Kingdom where it was his only charting hit. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in April 1976. The follow-up single, "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again" – based on the main theme of the slow movement of Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 – reached number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, and hit number one on the US Adult Contemporary Chart, as well as number nine on the Cash Box chart. In the UK Dana took it to number 31. Those songs featured on his 1975 self-titled debut album, along with "That's Rock and Roll", a number 3 hit single for singer Shaun Cassidy. The album made number 21 on the Billboard album chart and was certified Gold in 1977 for sales of more than 500,000 copies.
Carmen's second album, Boats Against the Current, came out in the summer of 1977 and received mixed reviews. It featured backup players such as Burton Cummings, Andrew Gold, Bruce Johnston and Nigel Olsson. The album spent 13 weeks in the Billboard Album chart, peaking number 45. It also produced the Top 20 single "She Did It," but the title track only managed to scrape the bottom of the chart. The title track was later covered by Olivia Newton-John on her album Totally Hot. A third single taken from the album, "Marathon Man," became his first solo single not to hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart. However, Shaun Cassidy again made the Top 10 in 1978 with Carmen's "Hey Deanie." For several weeks in the fall of 1977, Carmen had three compositions charting concurrently on the Billboard Hot 100, Cassidy's two big hits and Carmen's own "She Did It."
Carmen followed up with two more albums. Despite declining chart fortunes, the single "Change of Heart" broke into the Pop Top 20 and reached number 6 at AC in late 1978, with this hit also being covered by Samantha Sang on her Emotion LP. But in 1980, after the release of the album "Tonight You're Mine" and single "It Hurts Too Much" (number 75 Billboard Top 100; number 3 South Africa, June 1980) he temporarily withdrew from the music industry.
Four years later, after Mike Reno and Ann Wilson topped the charts (Pop number 7; Adult Contemporary number one) with the Carmen-penned ballad "Almost Paradise" (the love theme to the film Footloose), Eric resurfaced on Geffen Records in 1985 with a second self-titled album and a sizeable comeback hit "I Wanna Hear It from Your Lips". The single hit the Adult Contemporary Top 10 as well as the Pop Top 40. The follow-up single, "I'm Through with Love," also climbed the Billboard Hot 100 and reached the Top 20 of the Adult Contemporary chart. Another track from the album, "Maybe My Baby," later became a Country hit for Louise Mandrell. "I Wanna Hear It from Your Lips" was also a Country hit for Louise Mandrell.
In 1987, Carmen's contribution to the hit movie Dirty Dancing, "Hungry Eyes", hit number 2 on the Adult Contemporary Chart and also returned him to the Pop Top 10. "Reason To Try", a further contribution to the One Moment in Time compilation album of songs recorded for the Seoul Summer Olympics, kept Carmen's profile high in 1988, during which the nostalgic "Make Me Lose Control" also returned him to the number one position on the Adult Contemporary chart – where it stayed for three straight weeks – as well as number 3 on Billboard's Hot 100. This became his highest charting song since "All By Myself". Both, along with "Hungry Eyes", having in the past two decades become classic pop radio favorites. Although Carmen did not follow his two hit singles with a new studio album in 1988, "Make Me Lose Control" was included on a revised 'Best Of' collection from Arista. (The original version of the album was released a few months before the single was released, and early pressings exclude the song.)
The year 2000 saw the stateside release of I Was Born to Love You, which had been released in 1998 only in Japan as Winter Dreams. Carmen eschewed the use of a band on the recording, playing most of the instruments and programming the drum parts himself. The album did not find a large audience, but Carmen has continued to enjoy success placing songs with other artists over the years. In 2000 he also toured for the first time in years with Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band performing "Hungry Eyes", "Go All The Way" and "All By Myself".
On December 24, 2013, the first new recording in over 15 years by Carmen titled "Brand New Year" was released. The track, written and recorded in November/December 2013 in Ohio and Los Angeles, was issued via a gratis download by Legacy Recordings as a special "Christmas gift", to herald the March 2014 arrival of a 30 track career retrospective entitled The Essential Eric Carmen..
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Eric Carmen among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
Carmen has not toured since 2009, but continues to write and license music. He moved from Los Angeles back to Gates Mills in northeast Ohio in the 1990s. In 2016, Eric married former Los Angeles newscaster Amy Murphy and tweeted from his verified Twitter account on October 20, 2016 that he had gotten married in the previous week to his “best friend and soulmate“..
- Eric Carmen (1975) US #21
- Boats Against the Current (1977) US #45
- Change of Heart (1978) US #137
- Tonight You're Mine (1980) US #160
- Eric Carmen (1984) US #128
- The Best of Eric Carmen (1988) US #59
- Definitive Collection (1997)
- All By Myself - The Best Of Eric Carmen (1999)
- I Was Born to Love You (2000) [released as Winter Dreams in Japan]
- The Essential Eric Carmen (2014)
- "All by Myself" (1975)
- "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again" (1976)
- "Sunrise" (1976)
- "That's Rock and Roll" (1976)
- "She Did It" (1977)
- "Boats Against the Current" (1977)
- "Marathon Man" (1977)
- "Change of Heart" (1978)
- "Haven't We Come a Long Way" (1978)
- "End of the World" (1978)
- "It Hurts Too Much" (1980)
- "All for Love" (1980)
- "Foolin' Myself" (1980)
- "I Wanna Hear It from Your Lips" (1984)
- "I'm Through with Love" (1984)
- "The Way We Used to Be" (1984)
- "The Rock Stops Here" (1986)
- "Hungry Eyes" (1987)
- "Make Me Lose Control" (1988)
- "Reason to Try" (1989)
- "My Heart Stops" (1991)
- "Brand New Year" (2013)
Hits/compositions and chart positions
|Year||US Billboard||US Cash Box||US Record World||US AC||AUS||CAN||CAN AC||IRE||NZ||SA
|1972||86||90||89||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||"Don't Want to Say Goodbye"||Raspberries|
|5||4||3||–||14||5||–||–||–||–||–||"Go All the Way"|
|16||10||7||–||–||17||–||–||–||–||–||"I Wanna Be With You"|
|94||75||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||"I'm a Rocker"|
|1974||18||24||26||–||–||22||–||–||–||–||–||"Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)"|
|1975||2||1||1||6||7||3||1||16||6||9||12||"All by Myself"||Eric Carmen|
|1976||11||9||9||1||–||1||1||–||30||–||–||"Never Gonna Fall in Love Again"|
|1977||23||15||27||26||–||11||–||–||16||–||–||"She Did It"|
|1978||88||95||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||"Boats Against the Current"|
|19||19||20||6||–||14||10||–||–||–||–||"Change of Heart"|
|62||60||63||30||–||50||8||–||–||–||–||"Baby I Need Your Lovin'"|
|1980||75||83||71||–||–||–||–||–||–||3||–||"It Hurts Too Much"|
|1985||35||37||–||10||–||–||17||–||–||–||–||"I Wanna Hear It from Your Lips"|
|87||79||–||16||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||"I'm Through with Love"|
|1988||3||4||–||1||8||2||1||–||29||22||93||"Make Me Lose Control"|
|87||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||"Reason to Try"|
Compositions sung by others
|Year||Chart position (US)*||Title||Artist|
|1976||13 (AU)||"Never Gonna Fall in Love Again"||Mark Holden|
|1976||31 (UK)||"Never Gonna Fall in Love Again"||Dana|
|1976||–||"Let's Pretend"||Bay City Rollers|
|1977||3||"That's Rock and Roll"||Shaun Cassidy|
|1977||–||"Boats Against the Current"||Frankie Valli|
|1977||–||"I Need You"||Frankie Valli|
|1978||7||"Hey Deanie"||Shaun Cassidy|
|1978||–||"Boats Against the Current"||Olivia Newton-John|
|1978||–||"Change of Heart"||Samantha Sang|
|1978||–||"Let's Pretend"||Joey Travolta|
|1979||81||"I Need You"||Euclid Beach Band|
|1980||–||"Change of Heart"||Donna Fargo|
|1980||–||"Never Gonna Fall in Love Again"||John Travolta|
|1981||69||"She Did It"||Michael Damian|
|1981||–||"Boats Against the Current"||Patti Labelle|
|1984||7||"Almost Paradise"||Mike Reno & Ann Wilson|
|1995||26 (NZ)||"All By Myself"||Margaret Urlich|
|1995||86||"(I Wanna Take) Forever Tonight"||Peter Cetera|
|1996||3 (UK)||"I Need You"||3T|
|1997||4||"All By Myself"||Celine Dion|
|1999||–||"Someone That You Loved Before"||Diana Ross|
- * - Except as indicated otherwise
- "'All by Himself' among musicians; Jewish Clevelander Eric Carmen reflects on his life as a rock star – Cleveland Jewish News". Highbeam.com. December 31, 2004. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
- Eustacio Humphrey (December 12, 2007). "Raspberries show and album review – Cleveland, OH 12/12/2007". Cleveland.com. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 355. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- Marsh, Dave. "Boats Against the Current". Super Seventies. Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
- Weiner, Matthew. "Adrift in the Seventies". Save the Robot. Save the Robot. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
- Ofjord, Michael. "Boats Against the Current". AllMusic. RhythmOne Group. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
- "Eric Carmen - Interview". www.ericcarmen.com. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
- "'Brand New Year' for songwriting legend". Cleveland Jewish News. March 13, 2014. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
- Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
- Eric Carmen - Book Eric Carmen for your Corporate Events, Fund Raisers Retrieved 2018-05-20.
- Hamiliton, Anita. "Celebrating Seniors – Eric Carmen is 66 | 50+ World". 50plusworld.com. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
- "Eric Carmen on Twitter". Twitter.
- "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved September 1, 2018.