Eric Carmen, ‘Hungry Eyes’ Singer and Ex-Raspberries Member, Dies at 74

Eric Carmen, the Eighties hitmaker behind the Dirty Dancing classic song “Hungry Eyes,” has died at the age of 74.

His wife, Amy Carmen, confirmed the news on his official website. “It is with tremendous sadness that we share the heartbreaking news of the passing of Eric Carmen,” read the statement. “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.”

In a reference to Carmen’s track from his 1977 solo album Boats Against the Current, she added, “‘Love Is All That Matters … Faithful and Forever.’” A cause of death or the date of Carmen’s death has not been given.

Carmen formed the Raspberries in 1970, and the group found success with breakout hit, “Go All the Way.” The lead singer reflected on the suggestive nature of the song during a 2005 interview with Classic Rock 81. “I always thought if it saw daylight, one of two things would happen,” said Carmen. “Either it’ll get banned because it’s dirty — then maybe people will buy the album to check it out; or if it ever gets on the radio, I think it’ll just be a hit based on the title alone.”

While the band would later roll out highly praised singles such as “I Wanna Be With You,” “Tonight,” and “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record),” they struggled to follow their initial success with a hit track.

After the group disbanded in the mid-Seventies, Carmen launched his solo career with his 1975 self-titled debut album and found international recognition with the LP’s lead single, “All By Myself.” The track reached Number Two on the Billboard Hot 100, while its follow-up single, “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again,” hit No. 11 on the chart.

More than a decade later, Carmen would appear on the charts again with “Hungry Eyes” for the 1987 film Dirty Dancing. Written by John DeNicola and Franke Previte, former Raspberries producer Jimmy lenner, reached out to Carmen to perform the song. The track, catapulted by the massive popularity of the film, peaked at Number Four on the Hot 100. His song, “Make Me Lose Control,” co-written by Dean Pitchford, would release just a few months later and reach Number Three.

His Eighties tracks would be the last time Carmen’s music would chart, and his final album, I Was Born to Love You, arrived in 2000.

In 2004, the original members of the power pop band — Carmen, guitarist Wally Bryson, bassist David Smalley, and drummer Jim Bonfanti — reunited at the House of Blues’ opening in Cleveland. When discussing the Raspberries’ legacy and cult following, Carmen told Rolling Stone, “Over thirty-plus years, a certain myth has grown up around the band. And the last thing I ever wanted to do was put us on a stage somewhere, in less than the best circumstances, and pop the bubble, have the fans come in and say, ‘Gee, they weren’t that good.”

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“But it went absolutely beautifully,” said Carmen of the group’s experimental reunion gig in Cleveland. “We sold the date out in about four minutes, and everybody who was there had a phenomenal time.” The reunion would lead to a series of well-received gigs together at House of Blues venues across the U.S.

“We thought that before any of us die, this would not be a bad time to do it,” Carmen told PopMatters when looking back at the Raspberries’ 2005 tour. He also said that while people may have considered their music “retro” when they first debuted in the Seventies, the band “were like barbarians trying to crash the gates of the bloated progressive rock that we despised.” He added, “Sometimes it takes a while, but now there’s a whole different kind of reverence for what we’re doing, which didn’t happen at the time.”

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