Eric Carmen, Soft Rock Hitmaker Known for ‘Hungry Eyes’ and ‘All by Myself,’ Dies at 74

As a songwriter, Carmen’s hits also included “Almost Paradise” from “Footloose” soundtrack, performed by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson

Eric Carmen, Hungry Eyes Video
Eric Carmen, "Hungry Eyes" video – RCA/Arista

Eric Carmen, the Ohio-born soft rock singer-songwriter behind era-defining hits like “All by Myself” and “Hungry Eyes,” as well as “Almost Paradise” from the movie “Footloose,” died over the weekend of undisclosed causes, his wife, Amy announced Monday. He was 74.

Prior to his solo career, Carmen also had success as the lead singer of the early 70s power pop outfit The Raspberries.

“It is with tremendous sadness that we share the heartbreaking news of the passing of Eric Carmen,” Amy Carmen wrote in a message posted to the singer’s official site and on Facebook. “Our sweet, loving and talented Eric passed away 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. Please respect the family’s privacy as we mourn our enormous loss.”

The note ended with a quote from one of Carmen’s 1977 ballad “Love is All That Matters.”

Born in 1949 to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents, Carmen was a classically trained pianist and self-taught guitarist who started performing rock and roll music in high school. While at John Carroll University, he cofounded The Raspberries alongside Wally Bryson, Jim Bonfanti and Dave Smalley.

The band was signed to Capitol in 1972, kicking off a 3 year run of hits all written or cowritten by Carman that began with “Go All the Way,” which reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, sold more than a million copies — and was banned by the BBC for sexually suggestive lyrics. It would gain new life nearly 40 years later when it was included on the hit soundtrack to “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

The band’s other hits include “Let’s Pretend,” “Tonight,” “I wanna be with you” and “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record),” all of which Carmen wrote or cowrote. The group, influenced by the British invasion — particularly The Hollies and The Beatles — helped create the sound and direction of power pop, a rock music genre that largely stood in direct contrast to the arena rock and metal that dominated charts at the time.

The Raspberries paved the way for the success of groups like Cheap Trick and The Romantics later in the decade but broke up after just 5 years. Carmen then embarked on a solo career, finding success as part of the emerging soft rock movement.

On his 1975 debut, Carmen wrote two hits that were based on part on compositions by Sergei Rachmaninoff — “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again” and “All by Myself.” The latter was a huge hit, selling more than a million copies and become a adult contemporary radio staple. It was later covered by Celine Dion in 1996, achieving similar success, and the original was later featured in a very memorable early scene in “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”

Carmen would enjoy some minor hits for the rest of the decade but after the soft landing of his 1980 release “Tonight You’re Mine,” he took a break from music. Carmen returned in a big way in 1984 with “Almost Paradise,” a song he cowrote with Dean Pitchford for the “Footloose” soundtrack, performed by Mike Reno and Amy Wilson.

This was followed by a new self-titled solo record the same year, which included the hit “I Wanna Hear It From Your Lips.” 3 years later, Carmen contributed the platinum selling song “Hungry Eyes” to the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack, followed by his 1988 hit “Make Me Lose Control.”

Carmen reunited with The Raspberries for an acclaimed tour in 2004, continuing to perform from time to time. He moved back to Ohio around that time, and in 2016 married Amy Murphy.

He’s survived by Amy and by his children.


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