July 9, 2017 – Erik Cartwright (FOGHAT) was born on July 10, 1950 in New York City and grew up in Minisink Hills, Pennsylvania. A 1968 graduate of East Stroudsburg High School, he became one of the area’s prominent rock guitarists, alongside his friend G.E. Smith. Erik’s first gig as a professional musician was with the band Dooley in Allentown, PA.
In 1970-1971 he studied at the famous Berklee School of music before His early guitar work is featured on singer Dan Hartman’s It Hurts to Be in Love (1981). His first album as a co-leader was the self-titled debut of Tears (1979), with Nils Lofgren on piano. Right after he had just recorded the Tears album the invitation to join Foghat, and replace original lead guitarist Rod Price, came.
An accomplished guitarist, Cartwright at first had opposition from Foghat fans due to his replacement of original guitarist Rod Price, but it wasn’t long until he proved himself with equal musicianship. Cartwright brought a somewhat new sound to Foghat, as he played Fender guitars, while Price had been noted for his use of Gibson guitars.
Even though blues-based rock was in decline in the early 1980s, Foghat still recorded three major studio albums. Cartwright was Foghat’s guitarist when the band made music history as it was featured in the very first full-length MTV concert, which was filmed on October 9, 1981, at the Sportatorium in Hollywood, Florida. He then toured extensively with the band and recorded on Foghat albums Girls to Chat & Boys to Bounce (1981), In the Mood for Something Rude (1982), and Zig Zag Walk (1983).
In 1983 however, he and Foghat’s rhythm section — bassist Craig MacGregor (who passed away from cancer on February 9, 2018) and drummer Roger Earl — formed another group called the Knee Tremblers. In 1986 they began calling themselves Foghat and toured as such until 1990 with recurring lineup changes; Earl and Cartwright being the only group mainstays. In 1990 original Foghat vocalist Lonesome Dave Peverett formed his own version of Foghat, and the version including Erik Cartwright became known as Roger Earl’s Foghat. Cartwright worked with Earl until 1993, when the original Foghat members reunited and Cartwright then found himself out of a job with many pairs of multi-tone Wingtip shoes on hand.
Cartwright went on to work with Pat Travers, which only lasted several weeks and then continued as a guitar tech with the Allman Brothers Band, occasionally joining the group on stage, as well as support AC/DC and Jonny Lang as technician. He moved to Nashville where he found work as guitar and amp technician and session musician and kept on reuniting with a long line of resurrections of Foghat, even after founders Lonesome Dave Peverett and Rod Price had already moved on to Rock and Roll Paradise.
Erik, who passed away at age 66 on July 9, 2017 at his home in Nashville, was the brother of musician Brett Cartwright, who has played bass guitar for Joan Jett, David Johansen, and Shayne Fontayne. Brett Cartwright also toured as Foghat’s bassist during the late 1980s.