Happy Birthday to Eric Carmen, who turns 64 today (August 11th). Carmen is best remembered for writing and singing lead on the Raspberries' string of power pop hits, including "I Wanna Be With You," "Let's Pretend," "Tonight," "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)," and their 1972 Top Five signature hit "Go All The Way." Carmen went on to solo success with 1975's "All By Myself," and "Never Gonna Fall In Love Again," as well as writing Shaun Cassidy's Top Ten hits "That's Rock 'N' Roll," and "Hey Deanie."
In the 1984 he co-wrote Ann Wilson and Mike Reno's duet "Almost Paradise" from the Footloose soundtrack, sang 1988's "Hungry Eyes" from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, and scored his last Top Ten hit later that year with "Make Me Lose Control." Beginning in 2004, he has reunited with the Raspberries for a string of critically acclaimed reunion shows -- the most recent being on April 3rd, 2009 at Cleveland's Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
That same month, Carmen served 30 days in Ohio jail after pleading no contest to drunken driving and failing to control his car last year. This was the second DUI arrest for Carmen, who lives in the Cleveland suburb of Gates Mills. He was arrested on September 9th, 2008 after crashing his SUV into a fire hydrant. According to the charges, Carmen's blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the state's legal limit.
Carmen says that it took a good 20 years for him to understand how influential the Raspberries turned out to be for rock's following generation: "Years ago I was in L.A. in the mid-'80s and somebody said, 'Axl Rose is a huge fan of yours. 'And I went, 'Axl Rose is a fan?' He's a huge fan! And it would start to come out -- we have one guy on our road crew that has worked for Van Halen for 20 years, and before that he worked with all these, y'know, hair bands and metal bands and whatever, and he said they were all fascinated; they wanted to know all (the) Raspberries stories. And I said, 'Who?' -- the guys in Poison... And I thought that's amazing that these guys like us, that they got it."
Carmen recalls how he and Arista Records president Clive Davis were the only people who believed that "All By Myself" should be released as his debut solo single: "They had a testing center back in those days in Dallas, or something, where people would go into an auditorium on Saturday mornings and they'd get these different age groups and they'd wire up so you could tell demographic, and age, and sex, and see how a song struck everybody -- and then you would get, like, a meter reading. They tested 'All By Myself' and it came back absolutely a total loser -- not a hit. 98 percent say forget it. And then Clive and I went. 'Yeah, they're wrong."
Back in 2007 the Raspberries released their first-ever live album The Raspberries Live On Sunset Strip. The set features a bonus DVD of five songs, as well as a CD including the band's biggest power pop favorites, including "Tonight," "Let's Pretend," "Ecstasy," "I Wanna Be With You," and "Go All The Way," along with covers of the Who's "I Can't Explain" and the Searchers' "Needles And Pins."
Bruce Springsteen, a longtime Raspberries fan, wrote the album's liner notes.