The passing of Aaron Carter is sad like the passing of any person, especially someone so young. I know to some Aaron is another child star gone wrong, but to so many of us, he was so much more than that.
I won’t comment on Aaron’s social media actions and everything that has been going on in the media with him over the past few years. I am mourning the kid I once knew, a kid we all knew in some way. Maybe you were a fan or maybe you barely remember him, but Aaron was a bright light full of energy and passion. Like most kids, he was perfectly comfortable being front and center and getting tons of attention. As the youngest of five with a brother who was already famous, of course, Aaron wanted to be in the spotlight.
I’m the youngest of four and I remember trying to scream over my very loud siblings just to be heard. I would demand everyone’s attention in the room just because I was often overlooked. Once I finally had that attention, I wouldn’t know exactly what to do with it.
That childhood experience reminds me of Aaron, not just as a child, but as the man he grew into. Mental health, home life, and addiction filled in the missing cracks of the child he still was inside. What was most admirable about Aaron though, he didn’t give up what he loved. He still created music. He was passionate about it. He made time for his fans. He always had.
The first time I met Aaron Carter was in fact as a fan. I was in high school and I stood outside of a Coconuts on a cold New York City day. Coconuts is a record store for those of you who don’t remember them! When it was finally my and my friend’s turn in line for the meet & greet, Aaron was asking his bodyguard how much longer the signing would be. He was tired and his hand hurt. I instantly felt bad, knowing my autograph wouldn’t be the last one he would sign. There was still a long line wrapped around the Manhattan block waiting for him.
Aaron looked at me, smiled, and acted as if nothing was wrong before signing my CD cover and thanking me for the beanie baby I brought him. This first meeting stayed with me over the years. How many times has Aaron pretended he wasn’t tired or sad or angry or hurt? He toured and performed and worked his butt off since he was seven years old!
My next encounter with Aaron Carter was a much longer one and a significant moment in my life. I was in college and a budding journalist with my own publication called StarShine Magazine. I had interviewed indie and aspiring music artists up until that point, but never anyone I had actually heard of, or let alone was a fan of. I tried hard to get an interview with Aaron but was denied. Instead, I wound up securing an interview with Aaron Carter’s opening act, Lindsay Pagano.
Lindsay and her family welcomed me to the tour as if I were part of it, allowing me to hang out backstage all day. [Advice to aspiring journalists: I don’t recommend overstaying your welcome backstage. I got lucky and everyone was super nice to me, but it’s definitely frowned upon.]
Anyway, Lindsay, knowing I was a fan of Aaron’s, offered to introduce me, but we kept missing him. Then while Lindsay was doing soundcheck, Aaron was walking by and I stopped him and introduced myself as the editor of StarShine Magazine. I explained I wanted to interview him. He was super nice about it and told me to set it up with his manager/mother and gave me her email address.
He then took a photo with me and signed autographs for me, both for my own personal use and to give away in the magazine. Throughout the day, Aaron would smile at me or come up to Lindsay and me to talk and make us laugh. He was a normal teenage boy who wanted to look cool in front of girls, but was warm, funny, and welcoming.
That day changed everything for me. I did not get the interview, but the concert coverage and giveaways I ran with Aaron’s autograph provided me with a larger reader base that kept growing. Aaron Carter became a recurring “StarShine Star” that I featured regularly.
Dealing with his momager was difficult and was a thorn in my side, but dealing with Aaron was always a delight. I did eventually interview him after he fired his mother and he even gave me his phone number in case I ever had trouble securing an interview again. Every time we talked or saw each other, he was always grateful to me for promoting him. He even offered his mutual support when I started publishing books as an author. One day, he surprised me by tweeting about my books and posing for photos with them. It was much appreciated and helped me out big time.
The last time I saw Aaron was quite a few years ago before one of his concerts. He wound up rescuing me from a creepy show promoter who told me Aaron was meeting me at his hotel for an interview. When I arrived with my friend at the hotel, the creepy promoter kept putting his arm around me and said Aaron didn’t have time for an interview, but the creepy promoter wanted to “party” with me after the show.
I excused myself, grabbed my friend, and we stepped aside. I sent Aaron a DM explaining the situation. Less than three minutes later, Aaron came out of the elevator and saw the promoter trying to put his arm around me again. Aaron swooped in, put his arm around me, walked me away from the promoter, and said “Sandy! It’s so good to see you!” Two days later, the creepy show promoter showed up at the Starbucks I worked at to apologize to me at Aaron’s request. It’s all pretty funny now, but was kind of crazy in the moment.
This is the Aaron Carter I choose to remember. Inside, he had a good soul and a kind heart. On stage and around fans, he radiated confidence and charisma. He was more talented than most people knew or saw. He didn’t always have the right people around him, that’s for sure, and mental illness, past trauma, and addiction broke him down.
I pray he is free from all of the pain and turmoil and I will always remember the good over the bad. He contributed so much to my career, whether it was intentional or not. Rest in peace Aaron. ❤️