Eric Carr Related

Art Lindauer (2011)
Guitarist/vocalist discusses working with a pre-KISS Eric Carr in the cover band trio Flasher.

John Henderson (2004)
Musician shares his memories of collaborating with a young Paul Caravellos (Eric Carr) and his memories of Carr's pre-KISS bands

Victor Cohen (2002)
Rhythm guitarist/keyboard player discusses working with Eric Carr in the Cellarmen

David Bartky (2002)
Bassist recalls his musical beginnings and collaborating with Eric Carr in the Cellarmen

Robert "Bob" Pryor (2001)
Guitarist discusses his musical influences and working with Eric Carr in the Cellarmen

The creation of Eric Carr: John Henderson...

By Julian Gill

The first part of this interview appeared online in January 2004, quite a while after the interview took originally place. I then forgot to post the remaining section until September 2005. Oops. John Henderson is central to Eric Carr's pre-KISS musical history. Eric joined John's band in 1970, and the two worked together until December 1979. Through all of the name and member changes, John and Eric were the only constants. A big thanks to John for taking the time to talk to the KissFAQ and sharing his memories of Paul Caravello and his pre-KISS bands with his fans. It was a long call!

KissFAQ: Eric did a lot of different music with you; you know stuff that most of the people who know Eric Carr don't realize that he played a tremendous amount of diverse music, that his background wasn't rock.
John Henderson: No, it wasn't. Well, it was, but when he came to us he kinda learned funk. I think the Cellarmen were more rock. They were more into the Beatles.

KF: Yeah, they were Beatles and Neil Young kinda stuff...
JH: Yeah, that kind of thing. When he joined us we were more Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown and that kind of stuff.

KF: What I'm trying to do is put together a better picture of him as a musician to see where he was coming from. We can't talk to him anymore, unfortunately. You know it's kinda surprising that the number of people that did work with Eric that we've been able to find. You're the guy who worked with him the longest.
JH: Yeah, we even lived together. We shared an apartment together. We were room-mates for like a year or so. He needed an apartment, I needed one so we found this really nice apartment in this place and said, hey wanna split this. Neither one of us could afford the rent on our own, so it was a big beautiful apartment. It was great.

KF: Are you aware of the "Tale Of The Fox" video which came out a few years ago. There was some of your music on it? "Stranger" and stuff like that... JH: Yeah, I saw it.

KF: I also found a Creation 45 out there of "I'm So Lonely" backed with "Something Tellin' Me..."
JH: Oh boy...

KF: Was that you guys?
JH: Yeah, that was us. Did Paul sing "Something Tellin' Me"? No, that was George.

KF: That was George singing?
JH: Yeah, I think so.

KF: It was labeled "Creation" so I figured it was around 1975...
JH: Yeah, maybe before then. Maybe 1974, sometime around there.

KF: With the producers on it... I've got an article about you guys, after Gullivers, when you changed your name to Creation that said you were going to work in the studio with Lee Valentine.
JH: Oh yeah.

KF: Did you ever record with him?
JH: Yeah, we did. We never put a record out, but he took us in the studio. He was, and still is, the guitar player for Dione Warwick. He's been with her for forty years.

KF: Was "I'm So Lonely" the only single you guys ever put out in the 70s apart from the "Lightning" album?
JH: Yeah, that was it. Then we put out "Lightning" in like 1979. That was with Lew Merenstein. Lew's been around for a while.

KF: The whole "Lightning" thing, from what I've gathered, was a bit of a fiasco. It seemed to be a pretty bad time for all of you?
JH: Well he took us in the studio and we recorded and it was fun. We got experiences that we never got. The record never went anywhere because they didn't promote it. But he took us in the studio and paid us to do it, so you know, it was cool.

KF: How did you guys get signed to Casablanca, was it just one of those things?
JH: That was Lewis Merenstein. He just took us in. At the time Neil Bogart was the guy and I guess him and Neil were very tight. We never met any of those people at Casablanca; it was all done through Lew. He just walked us in and got us a deal.

KF: For year's people have been circulating the "Bionic Boogie" stuff and saying that you guys were supposed to go in and record as Bionic Boogie instead of the studio cats that Gregg Diamond used?
JH: We hoped, but it was never told to us. Gregg Diamond had his people. We were more like the road band. And we were glad to be that because we made more money, it was a lot of fun, we were somewhat stars. So we're all young cats out and our dreams are coming true. It was fun.

KF: It may not be as fun as the R&B stuff, but it's still good music.
JH: Yeah, so we had a good time. We actually auditioned for Gregg Diamond. My friend Jerry Ade who was very instrumental in all of this stuff in terms of the role. In fact Jerry actually started my band. He was the one who introduced me to Bart Goldberg. I forget how we met Paul. I know we met him through Victor. Someone knew Victor 'cause Jerry Ade he's the one who got me into the club scene.

KF: Now there was someone at Creative Talents, Kevin Brenner. Victor mentioned that his band broke up at the same time you have a band break up at the same time. And you were both with Creative Talents...
JH: Yeah, that's what happened, that's how we met. Kevin Brenner hooked us up.

KF: And then Victor came in as keyboard player and you had a drummer, I believe, from the previous band who was leaving...
JH: Right, a guy called Joe Schmidt.

KF: Now was that Salt & Pepper? Were you called that before Victor and Paul came in?
JH: Yeah, that was Salt & Pepper.

KF: And how long had that band been going by the time they joined in 1970?
JH: Oh, a year. We started in 1969.

KF: So you were still new on the scene?
JH: We were very new. And the band actually matured when Victor and Paul came in to it. Because we were like, in '69, I mean I'd never hardly been out of Harlem. So when Jerry Ade came to me and said let's start a band, to me White Plains was to me like upstate. White Plains is like nowhere from the city, but to me it was like upstate, being from Harlem. So I didn't know anything about that whole area. So it was all new to me. And then so the band was still kind of rough around the edges, but when Paul and Victor came into the band we really matured. That's when we started getting good. We started putting together a real show and we used to rock the place.

KF: Now you opened up for Nina Simone?
JH: I don't know the exact year, but that was like '72 since we'd been together for a while, somewhere around there.

KF: Now George Chase joined at the same time, right?
JH: Yeah, what happened was the original band was me and Jerry Ade and a guy called Guy Roe, and he really wasn't a good singer. But we didn't care; we were all friends just having fun. We didn't know what the band was going to do. Once we figured out that we could make some money doing this, and Kevin Brenner really liked us, 'cause he was the most powerful club booking agency in New York at the time. And he really got in us and he really helped mould the band - he put us together. Then we figured out that we really need a good singer. And I knew George, we went to school together. So I asked George to join the band, 'cause he could really sing. And that's when we got serious and became real good band.

KF: Now you did lead vocals as well?
JH: Yeah, I play guitar and was one of the main vocalists.

KF: This is about keeping Eric's name alive...
JH: I didn't realize. KISS was talking about him one night, and that big drum solo that they talk about. He honed that in the clubs. We used to all leave the stage and leave Paul up on stage and he would do that solo. We were practicing and he'd say, why don't you leave me up on stage during the middle of something... We used to do this Santana stuff, he said, let me do this big drum solo and then guys you come back and we'd finish the show. That was part of our show. So Paul came up with that and he did that drum solo. So when I watched that documentary on KISS and he did the solo that was the same solo he did with us. Who knew that it would become like that.

KF: In that video you've also got his 1967 drum solo. There are elements of that, right from the beginning, that he brought through. He took it somewhere that no drummer has really gone with his synth sounds in the 1980s. He took it a long way.
JH: And he was a great singer. Unbelievable.

KF: Did he do a lot of singing with you?
JH: Oh yeah. He sung a lot of harmonies with us. Now believe it or not he used to sing some stuff by the Manhattans "Kiss And Say Goodbye" and "Skylark Let Her Cry 'Cause She's A Lady". He used to sing all that stuff.

KF: I've got some tapes of just him and a guitar or piano doing Beatles and Neil Young stuff.
JH: Yeah, but he used to sing some of the funk stuff too with us. It was a fun band. It was a great band because we had a cross of funk players and rock players. So the band was like edgy funk. It was like rock funk.

KF: Now this was the same time Parliament/Funkadelic was doing the same thing.
JH: Yes they were. Parliament was doing it. We had a good time.

KF: Now you recorded some stuff like "Coordination".
JH: That wasn't with Paul... Did we do that with Paul? I don't remember. We didn't write that. That was a song written by my friend of mine.

KF: I think Victor mentioned that he and Sarita played sax on it.
JH: Well that tells you what that was 'cause she could only play like a couple of note.

KF: "Stranger", you wrote that. Do you remember when you recorded it and the context of doing that? That's a lot more rock oriented.
JH: Yeah, it had to be before 1974 'cause we were playing the Village Barn and those places. So it was between 70 and 74. I don't remember the exact year. 1974 is when the fire hit, so it was in there. And Victor left I think in the top of 74, the last part of 74.

KF: I think he said he left in August '73 and then Damon came in to replace him and Bart was on bass.
JH: Bart quit, but was playing out his last couple of gigs. I think the weekend the fire hit was his last weekend he was playing with us. He survived it. We had already auditioned a new bass player that was going to come in.

KF: And that was Tom Stevens?
JH: Right.

KF: You got Bobby Spinella and Eddie Dozier in. Did they come in after the fire?
JH: Eddie replaced George. Now Bobby, we didn't keep him that long. There were problems with him. He stayed for a little while, and then he left, and we went through a couple of people and it just wasn't happening, and then finally we got a guy named Obie O'Brien. He was the guy. When we locked on to him we said alright, we got the guy. And David Collier. Because we had this guy called TM Stevens playing for a while. So Bobby Spinella and TM Stevens came in and replaced Bart. I guess after the fire Tom just went for another thing and joined someone else.

So Kevin Brenner put together some benefits and got back our equipment, and we had to get some new players. So we got TM on bass and we got Bobby on keyboards. But they were from that jazz, wild, sort of thing. They were into this just really wild kinda music that we weren't into. We were more like funk disciplined players and those guys were into all that other stuff, so we didn't gel too well. So after a year of TM and different players we finally got Obie and this guy named Dave Collier and then the band was great again.

KF: Now, you changed the name of the band from Salt & Pepper to Creation some time after the accident?
JH: Yeah, we were forced, wait, we were Creation the night of the accident.

KF: You were?
JH: Oh yeah. Yeah, we were Creation, but they were saying "Creation, formerly Salt & Pepper". If you look on that poster it'll say Creation on there.

KF: Do you remember when you changed the name?
JH: Nah, I don't remember the year. It was before the fire though.

KF: And you still did some gigs as Salt & Pepper in some of the areas you were better known as them?
JH: Well, we had built up such a following. I mean we were like huge upstate. We would pack every club we would play. There'd be lines outside to get in to see us play.

KF: So you had to keep the other name there to let people know that you were the same guys?
JH: Right.

KF: So when did Mother Nature / Father Time come into the picture and why did you change your name again?
JH: Well it seems that there was another band called Creation. So we just got tired of that, so we decided to just get another name that nobody will have. The reason we changed it from Salt & Pepper, in the first place, was because some recording group came out as Salt & Pepper at the time. We hated to get rid of Salt & Pepper. We loved that name. That was our favorite name. And to this day people who knew me all through those years still say "John, from Salt & Pepper". They don't remember Creation or Mother Nature / Father Time, just Salt & Pepper.

KF: Now, who came up with the name "Mother Nature / Father Time" because Paul has said in some interviews that he wasn't too fond of the name?
JH: Sarita.

KF: So, she stayed with the band? She didn't show up on the "Lightning" album credits, so had she left by then?
JH: Yeah. I don't think we had a girl anymore. We got tired of women. No more women!

KF: 1978/9, now that's when you were making live appearances as Bionic Boogie?
JH: Right.

KF: What led to you being called "Lightning" for the studio album?
JH: I think that was Lewis Merenstein.

KF: He just decided it was going to be called "Lightning"?
JH: Yeah, we didn't have anything to do with that.

KF: You didn't have anything to do with roller-skates being put on the album cover?
JH: NO, NOTHING! He gave us an album and said, "Here's your album."

KF: I think Paul said in an interview that there are only five or six copies of this album and he hopes no KISS fan ever hears it.
JH: Yeah.

KF: Now, did you guys just record the Creation single and make those for yourselves, because it sounds like you didn't expect it to be out there?
JH: No we didn't. That's me singing it with the high voice, right. And I wrote it. And this guy named Carvel Grey is the one who took us in the studio. He's the same one who put us on the show with Nina Simone.

KF: And Robert C. Carlos is the other guy listed on the label.
JH: Who? I don't know who that is.

KF: Carvel and he are listed as the producers.
JH: Maybe he was Carvel's money man or something. I don't know who he is. But Carvel took us in the studio and was the guy I knew.

KF: I thought it was Serita singing "I'm So Lonely"!
JH: That's me.

KF: I'm glad to be able to correct that! Paul played on both of those?
JH: Oh yeah.

KF: Let's see. I've got a list of songs I'd like to ask you about. "Fairy Shoemaker"?
JH: What's that? No. I don't know about that.

KF: "Rock Steady"?
JH: Now that's a copy song. Aretha.

KF: "Looker Of The Glass"?
JH: We did that. That was my friend Zander Denay who wrote that.

KF: What about "What Are You Today"?
JH: Hmm, who wrote that? Ah, my friend Harold Taylor. He was the lead singer of a group called The Joneses. They had record called "Sugar Pie Guy" back in the 70s.

KF: He wrote "Something Tellin' Me" as well.
JH: George sang it.

KF: "The Work Song". Great funky song.
JH: Yeah, I don't know. Was that Glen Dorsey who wrote that? I can't remember who wrote that. Wow, I haven't heard of these songs in years.

KF: Then some guy comes out of the blue talking about them.
JH: You can tell we didn't do a lot of copyrighting back then.

KF: "Baby I Want You".
JH: I forgot how that goes. I dunno about that song.

KF: "People"
JH: Yeah, I wrote that. I think that was me and Serita wrote that.

KF: One last thing I'd just like to cover is essentially you guys calling it quits.
JH: Yeah, what happened was back in like 1979, I believe, our truck got stolen with all our equipment in it. We used to park it in this garage up 233rd Street. We were having problems trying to revamp. Paul had decided that he really wanted to join a rock band. He wanted to do something different. The band was falling apart really, we were changing it was just coming to an end. Wait, Paul wasn't in the band. I'm ahead of myself. He'd quit and wanted to play rock. I remember saying wow man. I mean Paul was special to me, we were like really close. He wanted to play rock and get with a different kind of band and he decided to leave.

So I had to revamp and get another band together. And after that he got with KISS. After that he called me up and told me he'd scored an audition with KISS and he was going down. I said, oh OK. He said there'd probably be like 800 people down there, but I'm going. So he went. Then I heard it was down to less and less people and he got picked and said whoa, I couldn't believe it. So I got called for a gig with a band called Chains and went out with Luther Vandross. So I went out with them, and he went out with KISS.

KF: So you both landed on your feet.
JH: Yeah.

KF: Did you ever get to see him in KISS or was that not you scene?
JH: No, I'm not into KISS. I remember one night when we were living together. One night KISS did a show, some TV show, and I said, man I'd never want to be in a band like that with the makeup and stuff. And Paul said, 'I would! I would love to do that! I'd love to play in a band like that'. And who knew that he'd end up in that band.

KF: What's your fondest memory of Paul Caravello?
JH: Oh boy. There's so many, I can't think of just one, I mean... He was a great guy, he was one of my best friends. Oh, I know. One night we had a problem up in Newburgh, the club owner didn't want to pay us. A fight broke out in the club and the guy wanted to hold the money. Now we lived a long way from Newburgh. Being from the city we were like an hour from the club. So the guy didn't want to pay us and wanted us to drive up there the next day to pick it up. And I didn't trust that and said no, you're going to pay us tonight. He said no and took the money and went in his office.

So I decided I'm gonna go in there and get our money. So I took a mic stand and said I was gonna go get our money. I walked by the bouncers and said, "Man, you better get out of my way." I went into that office, busted in there, I looked behind me and there's Paul. Right behind me backing me up. And I turned around and saw him with something in his hand and said, damn this guy's got my back. I never knew that about him. Never knew. You know when the going gets tough and you need somebody to back you up that's when you find out, that's what separates the men from the boys. I thought I was going to be in there alone.

KF: That defines the sort of man a person is.
JH: Ready to go down with me.

KF: Now, he had a wicked sense of humor.
JH: Oh yeah. When he was in a great mood he was joking all the time. And he had a great imagination. He drew stuff all the time. He loved space. He loved like "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind" and "Star Wars", he loved all of that stuff. I remember one day we had a talk about God and he said, you know God could be a spaceman! I'm like, oh my goodness, and looked at him and said OK...

KF: Did he ever write songs with you?
JH: He wrote. Oh yeah. He wrote some songs that were recorded that you may have. "Our Love Will Shine Today". And he sang it, he sang the lead on it. He wrote a couple of songs.

KF: So very much an active member of the band in every way?
JH: Oh yeah, he was one of the main characters. We were all like even like that. He was very instrumental. He stuck with me for 10 years we played together.

January 2004

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