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Eric Carmen, singer-songwriter of 'All By Myself' and 'Hungry Eyes,' dies at 74

Eric Carmen was the frontman for the Raspberries. The singer wrote music that helped set the mood for several popular movies throughout his career, including <em>Dirty Dancing</em>.
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Eric Carmen was the frontman for the Raspberries. The singer wrote music that helped set the mood for several popular movies throughout his career, including Dirty Dancing.

Eric Carmen wrote and performed some of the biggest power ballads of the 1970s and '80s. Many of them became famous from the movies they helped score. Carmen wrote eight top 40 hits; his best-known songs include "Hungry Eyes," an integral part of the Dirty Dancing soundtrack from 1987, and "All By Myself," which has become a romantic comedy staple.

Carmen died in his sleep this weekend, according to a statement on his webpage.

"It is with tremendous sadness that we share the heartbreaking news of the passing of Eric Carmen," wrote his wife, Amy Carmen. "It brought him great joy to know, that for decades, his music touched so many and will be his lasting legacy."

No details of Carmen's death were given. He was 74 years old.

Carmen's mother was a professional violist who played with the Cleveland Orchestra. He found songwriting inspiration in classical music. ("All By Myself" is based in part on Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor.) In 1970, Carmen started a Cleveland band called the Raspberries that made up in influence what it lacked in fame; fans included John Lennon, Lou Reed and Bruce Springsteen, as Carmen told The Observer in a 2017 interview.

Former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr poses with members of the sixth incarnation of the All-Starr Band who are Jack Bruce, left, Eric Carmen, Ringo Starr, Dave Edmunds, Mark Rivera and Simon Kirke during a press conference in May 2000.
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Former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr poses with members of the sixth incarnation of the All-Starr Band who are Jack Bruce, left, Eric Carmen, Ringo Starr, Dave Edmunds, Mark Rivera and Simon Kirke during a press conference in May 2000.

"The first time I met Bruce Springsteen, I walked in his dressing room before a show, and he was writing out the setlist, and we both looked at each other for a couple of minutes — I was very uncomfortable being on the fan end, so I felt a little stupid," Carmen remembered to reporter Ken Kurson. "But Bruce looked at me, and he goes, 'You know, while I was writing "The River" all I listened to was Woody Guthrie and the Raspberries' greatest hits.'"

The Raspberries broke up in 1975, and Carmen went solo. His music appeared in movies ranging from Bridget Jones's Diary to Almost Famous — director Cameron Crowe was a fan of the Raspberries, too — to Footloose. Carmen co-wrote its love theme, "Almost Paradise," performed by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson.

A constellation of stars, including John Travolta, Shirley Bassey and Celine Dion, have recorded Eric Carmen's music over the years. The Raspberries reunited in 2004 and toured for the next three years. Carmen also toured with Ringo Starr in the sixth iteration of his All-Starr Band.

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Neda Ulaby
Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.