Monday, October 23, 2006

The Fanboy Archives: Lee A. Carr - Rocker!

First: why is this called fanboy archive? Because that's what I was circa 1980's. I was a fan of the local Nashville rock music scene. I didn't play in any of the bands. I didn't even live in Nashville. I was a half hour down the road in Murfreesboro buying the records, listening to WRVU and WKDF, picking up the local music rags, and sometimes journeying up to Nashville to see a club show. And it was a journey then. Everything was new and exciting and nothing seemed impossible. That said; it wasn't an uncritical time for me. I held strong opinions on just about everything, but especially music, which is a great privilege and responsibilty almost of youth. Which brings us to the second question you might have: what is the purpose of the fanboy archive? The purpose is to share some of my thoughts about the music and players from that time and what it meant to me plus provide some historical relics from that time. This first installment is about Lee A. Carr. If you want to add anything to this or send me some Mr. Zero mp3's it would make me very happy.

Lee A. Carr was one creative and restless guy. I was first exposed to his genius via his comics in the 'zine Weasel Weekly (Published Monthly). I picked up a copy at a White Animals all-ages gig at Cantrells. It had the "mange" strip which was later reprinted in the Fireplace Whiskey Journal. Next, I learned he was part of The Enemy. Their song "Jesus Rides A UFO" was burning up the airwaves that summer of 1985 when WRVU increased their wattage, but I was late to the party when it came to Joey "Offbeat" Blanton and crew. Lee's cousin Kelly Butler had left The Enemy behind and so would Lee as The Enemy was busy morphing into Royal Court Of China.

The next I knew Lee had picked up a gig as Raging Fire's bassist. I dug Raging Fire more than The Enemy. I was building up Lee to be my rock and roll hero. Not only was he a funny cartoonist, but the dude got to play with two legendary mid-80's Nashville acts. But like I said, he was a restless man. He left Raging Fire and I don't recall ever hearing why. I suppose he wasn't content to be a sideman forever. He had grandiose ideas hip hopping into his head thanks to his cousin Kelly.

Mr. Zero would come charging out of Gallatin intent on melding hip hop and rap into one seamless trunk of funk. . Rock had been no wallflower at the hip hop dance before; check out Blondie's "Rapture", Run-DMC's "Rock Box", and the Beastie Boys, but Mr. Zero was close to being, if not the first, straight up metal/rap mix to firecracker into consciousness with Lickster Lee, Machine Gun Kelly, Slick Chris, and Grandmaster E. Their shows were gigantic parties with Grandmaster E. coming "into the place, kicking over chairs, people get mad, we don't care" urging the crowd to burn the roof off the mother while giving us white hillbillies a lesson in race relations at the same time. Maybe their high spirits had something to do with the "Terror Twins", Kelly and Lee, making sure their van was always stocked with Boone's Farm and Busch.

Maybe this was why Mr. Zero only lasted for a short time. Their antics had even gotten them banned from Cookeville, TN. The band disintegrated mutating into the Hard Corps, a rock/rap hybrid led by Machine Gun Kelly, who landed one of the first record deals with Interscope where they released an album Def Before Dishonor which featured a well received cover of "Back In Black", but they never could win me over like Mr. Zero had. All I know is that the Limp Bizkit's and Linkin Park's of the world owe some mad props to the cousins from Gallatin.

I don't know what Lee did after Mr. Zero. I've got an mp3 of him doing a song titled "Tanya", but I don't recall when it was recorded or who even sent it to me. It reminds me of Peter Laughner for some reason. I wish Lee was still around, but he committed suicide a few years ago. I bet he would have gottten a kick out of all of the attention being focused on the Nashville rock scene all of these years later.

I'll leave with you a quote from his sister Joannah Carr:

"Lee loved every minute he spent creatively whether it be music, writing, comix etc. He was truly one of a kind."


Anonymous said...

The recording of "Tanya" was done in the studio at Belmont University in or around '85. It is a cover of a song written by Tom Gray and originally recorded by The Brains. Lee passed it off as his own to friends, relatives, and bandmates.

Melissa said...

My heart just broke..... Lee was a ex-boyfriend of mine and I had no idea he committed suicide.

Anonymous said...

I bumped into Kelly Butler "Machine Gun Kelly" this evening for the first time in about fifteen years and it got me thinking about the early 90's on the Nashville music scene. did a quick search online to show my girlfriend how we all knew each other and found this page. Lee played in my band Rockfish and was truly a talented soul. I was unaware he had taken his own life and that makes me sad.

chungsween said...

Lee and I became friends back in the day, as all of the aforementioned bands used to journey to Bowling Green, KY to play Picasso's and Michael's Pub when live music was thriving in this somewhat lethargic college town. Lee was a great guy and I only learned of his tragic demise a couple of years ago. It's nice to see him get the props he so richly deserved after the fact. Man, I miss those days and I miss Lee...

Anonymous said...

I miss Lee too, we dated for some time, but
Became good friends in the late 80's.
I remember Lee showing me an old television
That he completely painted over... It was sitting
On his Fathers table in the dining room.He asked
Me to write or draw something on it.. I didn't think
Think a lot about it... Now I'm completely honored.
I didn't know about this until today. I'm just so sad
I also drove Lee and his little sister to Centenial
Park one evening..he was so excited for me to
Meet his Little Sister- he thought the world
Of his family & friends... I'm very sad about this.
Sleep in peace, Lee ,Sleep in peace.
Since I left Nashville in 2000.

Anonymous said...

Lee was my very 1st boyfriend. I was 14. He was 17. Young & naive me didn't realize at the time he wasn't only MY boyfriend. Although I was stupid enough to let him pretrend to barely know me in public, we were closer than anyone would ever know or believe. Unless they could catch our split second glances, which no one did. Unbeknownst to everyone, those tiny glances were all Lee & I needed to read each others minds and if it wasn't enough, with one look we could plan when & where to sneak away to talk. He allowed me to know his true self. I knew and still know things about Lee that no one else knew or ever will know because as much as our non-relationship upset me back then, we trusted one another. I loved and love him. And I know he loved me the best way he knew how. Lee Carr was the shyest person pretending to be extroverted person I knew. He was hands down one of the most insecure people I knew that portrayed arrogance with ease. As with most creative souls, there are huge struggles. I never gave up on him. Long after he had disappeared from the scene and people's minds, we would still meet whether to take in a meeting or just be there for each other. Personally I think it was really crappy the way Nashville treated him. Everyone wanted to be around him when he was successful. The minute he started sliding down hill, he was treated like a disease. The only ones I know of that stuck by him were me and for a while, Kelly. I don't know why I'm posting this. Most of you only gave a crap after he committed suicide. Where were you in between times when he needed support? I suppose I'm posting this for myself. I miss you Lee. I know you're hanging with some of your biggest heroes now. I'll always love you...