July 24th, 2024

Eric Carmen, the Raspberries frontman and ‘All by Myself’ and ‘Hungry Eyes’ singer, dies at 74

By Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press on March 12, 2024.

NEW YORK (AP) – Singer-songwriter Eric Carmen, who fronted the power-pop 1970s band the Raspberries and later had soaring pop hits like “All by Myself” and “Hungry Eyes” from the hit “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack, has died. He was 74.

His death was announced on his website by his wife, Amy Carmen, who did not reveal a cause, saying only that he died “in his sleep, over the weekend.”

“It brought him great joy to know, that for decades, his music touched so many and will be his lasting legacy,” the message read.

Carmen had 13 songs in the Billboard Hot 100, including three in the Top 10. The Raspberries, which formed in Cleveland, had four Top 40 singles, including the Top 5 hit “Go All the Way.”

Formed in 1970, the Raspberries made four albums for Capitol Records and were known for their matching suits at a time when most bands had abandoned them.

“Almost every band had hair down to their waist and beards and ripped jeans and they looked like a bunch of hippies, and I wanted to get as far away from that as I could,” Carmen told the Observer in 2017.

The Raspberries’ second album, “Fresh,” released in 1972, would be their highest charting, hitting No. 36 and featuring two Top 40 hits, “I Wanna Be With You” and “Let’s Pretend.”

The Raspberries ended their first run in 1975, two years after creative differences hastened the departures of drummer Jim Bonfanti and bassist Dave Smalley.

Carmen then launched a solo career and his self-titled debut included the soaring hit “All By Myself,” which sold more than 1 million copies in the U.S. and reached No. 2 in 1976. His other hits included “Make Me Lose Control” – a No. 3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1988 – and he co-wrote “Almost Paradise,” sung by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson, which peaked at No. 7 in 1984.

Carmen’s albums include 1977’s self-produced and autobiographical “Boats Against the Current,” 1978’s “Change of Heart” and 1980’s “Tonight You’re Mine.” His songs “Nowhere to Hide” and “Desperate Fools” are soft rock classics.

In 1984, he released a second self-titled album, teaming up with Bob Gaudio from Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. It had the single “I Wanna Hear It from Your Lips.” In 1987, he had another massive hit when his recording of “Hungry Eyes” was featured on 1987’s “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack, reaching the Top 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and propelling the album to sales of over 32 million copies.

Carmen was born in Cleveland and was musical early, taking violin lessons at 6 and later learning piano and guitar. He was a student at John Carroll University when he joined a local group called Cyrus Erie. He and another Cyrus Erie member, guitarist Wally Bryson, joined forces with former members of a band called the Choir to form the Raspberries, combining melodies, guitar riffs and lush ballads.

He and the Raspberries reunited for a couple of shows in late 2004 at Cleveland’s House of Blues, which led to dates around the country the following year and the album “Live on Sunset Strip,” which included liner notes by no less a fan than Bruce Springsteen, who hailed the Raspberries as “THE great underrated power pop masters.”

“It’s more satisfying now to go onstage and play with these guys than it ever was,” Carmen told The Plain Dealer in 2007. “It’s also nice that after 30-some years, we finally seem to be eliciting the respect of the media and people who maybe the first time around didn’t quite get it.”


Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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