In a recent interview with Howard Stern, Kiss frontman Paul Stanley opened up about his biggest regret during his time in the band. Stanley expressed remorse over how the band treated drummer Eric Carr during his battle with cancer, ultimately leading to his death.
“I’m not a big believer in mistakes,” Stanley said. “I believe that everything you do gets you to where you wind up, and without those mistakes, you wouldn’t succeed on the level you could have. But the one thing that I think personally was a mistake was when our second drummer, Eric Carr, got sick with cancer.”Advertisement
Paul Stanley, the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the rock band Kiss, recently expressed regret over the way the band treated Eric Carr’s illness. Carr was Kiss’s second drummer, who passed away in November 1991 after being diagnosed with a rare case of heart cancer. In a recent interview with Howard Stern, Stanley said that he wished the band had treated Carr’s illness with more sensitivity and regretted that the drummer felt betrayed by the band during his health battle.
“Eric desperately wanted to work on the song, but he was still very frail,” Stanley said in his 2014 book Face the Music. “If I knew then what I know now — I never thought this might be his last chance to perform — I would have let him play, but at the time I was sure that he would beat the odds.”
Stanley recounted that when Carr got sick, the band made plans to record their next album without him, rationalizing that he should focus on his recovery. Carr became upset, feeling that the band had denied him what mattered most to him, his place in Kiss. Stanley admitted that the band struggled to come to terms with the rarity and severity of Carr’s illness. He thought that it was a new ongoing condition and didn’t believe that Carr could possibly die. Stanley understood why Carr distanced himself from Kiss, saying that the band did what they thought was caring but didn’t take into account the depth of what was happening.
“Once we told him we were going to record Revenge, he cut himself off from us. … Though I thought I had made the best choices at the time, I began to realize I’d been wrong,” Stanley noted. “We had cut Eric off in perhaps the worst way, by denying him what mattered most to him — his place in Kiss.”
“He had heart cancer, which, there’s [only] six cases a year,” he said. “At first we didn’t believe it could possibly be true, and over a short time, it became clearer. He had major heart surgery. And I think that the brain just doesn’t let you comprehend — at least it didn’t in that case — mortality.”
“I didn’t believe that he could possibly die,” Stanley continued. “I thought this was a new ongoing condition: ‘OK, he’s got this and then it’ll go away.’ And had I known, I think we would have treated it more sensitively. We took care of him, we paid his medical bills, but we also told him, ‘We’re going to continue as a band while he’s sick.’ Well, he wasn’t ‘while he’s sick.’ He was dying.”
“We flew to Eric’s bedside immediately, as soon as we knew he went to the hospital, and [asked], ‘Is there anything we can do?’ All that,” Gene Simmons added during the interview. “And Paul’s right — you just [think], ‘Oh, he’s sick, he’s in the hospital.’ You just don’t think he’s going to pass away.”
Stanley expressed regret for how Kiss treated Carr’s illness, admitting that the band didn’t take into account the severity of his condition. Despite the regret, Kiss dedicated an entire album to Carr and wrote a scathing letter to Rolling Stone when they didn’t cover his death. Carr will always be remembered as a talented drummer who believed in the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll.
“In hindsight, you go, Wait a minute. They told us he had this cancer that affects six people a year, and somehow we were just able to … we did what we thought was caring, but we didn’t take into account the depth of what was happening,” he concluded. “So yes, I feel bad about that, and he rightfully pulled himself away from us and felt betrayed.”
Kiss dedicated their 1992 album Revenge to Carr, and the album closed with an instrumental track featuring an extended solo by the drummer. The band wrote a scathing letter to Rolling Stone when they neglected to cover Carr’s death. In the letter, the group described Carr as “someone who still lived and believed in the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll… we loved him, the fans loved him, and he will never be forgotten.”