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Carpenters

With their light, airy melodies and meticulously crafted, clean arrangements that appealed to a variety of audiences, the Carpenters stood in direct contrast with the excessive, gaudy pop/rock of the '70s; yet they became one of the most popular artists of the decade, scoring 12 Top Ten hits, including three number one singles. Karen Carpenter's calm, pretty voice was the most distinctive element of their music, settling in perfectly amidst the precise, lush arrangements provided by her brother Richard. Though their popularity began to fade as the '70s progressed, the duo continued to make music together until Karen's tragic death in 1983.

The Carpenters formed in the late '60s in Downey, California, after their family moved from their native New Haven, Connecticut. Richard had played piano with a cocktail jazz trio in a handful of local Connecticut nightclubs. Once the family had moved to California, he began to study piano while he supported Karen in a trio that featured Wes Jacobs (tuba/bass). With Jacobs and Richard forming her backup band, Karen was signed to the local California record label Magic Lamp, who released two unsuccessful singles by the singer. The trio won a Battle of the Bands contest at the Hollywood Bowl in 1966, which led to a record contract with RCA. Signing under the name the Richard Carpenter Trio, the group cut four songs that were never released. Jacobs left the band at the beginning of 1968.

Following Jacobs' departure, the siblings formed Spectrum with Richard's college friend John Bettis. Spectrum fell apart by the end of the year, but the Carpenters continued performing as a duo. The pair recorded some demos at the house of Los Angeles session musician Joe Osborn; the tape was directed toward Herb Alpert, the head of A&M Records, who signed the duo to his record label in early 1969.

Offering, the Carpenters' first album, was released in November 1969. Neither Offering nor the accompanying single, a cover of the Beatles' "Ticket to Ride," made a big impression. However, the Carpenters' fortunes changed with their second single, a version of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "(They Long to Be) Close to You." Taken from the album Close to You, the single became the group's first number one, spending four weeks on the top of the U.S. charts. "Close to You" became an international hit, beginning a five-year period where the duo was one of the most popular recording acts in the world. During that period the Carpenters won two Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist of 1970, and had an impressive string of Top Ten hits, including "Rainy Days and Mondays," "Superstar," "Hurting Each Other," "Goodbye to Love," "Yesterday Once More," and "Top of the World."

After 1975's number four hit "Only Yesterday," the group's popularity began to decline. For the latter half of the '70s, the duo were plagued by personal problems. Richard had become addicted to prescription drugs; in 1978, he entered a recovery clinic, kicking his habit. Karen, meanwhile, became afflicted with anorexia nervosa, a disease she suffered from for the rest of her life. On top of their health problems, the group's singles had stopped reaching the Top Ten and by 1978, they weren't even reaching the Top 40. Consequently, Karen decided to pursue a solo career, recording a solo album in 1979 with Phil Ramone; the record was never completed and she returned to the Carpenters later that year. The reunited duo released their last album of new material, Made in America, in 1981. The album marked a commercial comeback, as "Touch Me When We're Dancing" made it to number 16 on the charts. However, Karen's health continued to decline, forcing the duo out of the spotlight. On February 4, 1983, Karen was found unconscious at her parents' home in Downey; she died in the hospital that morning from a cardiac arrest, caused by her anorexia.

After Karen's death, Richard Carpenter concentrated on production work and assembling various compilations of the Carpenters' recorded work. In 1987, he released a solo album called Time, which featured guest appearances by Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

It was so tragic about Karen she had such a short life they were so good together
WHoa!!! A voise like no other, we miss
you LALA !!$$$$$
They didn't mention it here, but Karen was actually an outstanding drummer, and really preferred to play the drums than to be the lead singer.
I was obsessed with them when I was 6.... I'm 12 now and it's crazy that I remember this....I love Christian music now....
dinokb12
The Carpenters were just amazing. Wow!
bigjimpianom a n
I met Karen & Richard @ the Civic Center in Atlanta, I was working back stage as their concierge, Karen was nervous & pacing, while
Richard was cool & calm. He asked how the crowd was , I told him,SOR HE just laughed! I lucked out, I was with them when they
warmed up with Invocation, .that moment I'll always treasure!
Best song ever. My mom raised me on the Carpenters!
Absolutely loved the Carpenters. I remember the night they announced she died. She was such a talent and we miss her.
I'M 63 AND STARTED LISTENING WHEN I WAS 18. I STILL LISTEN AND MISS HER. SURE WISH SHE COULD HAVE GOTTEN MORE SUPPORTED HELP LIKE IS OFFERED TODAY.
hjmunson
Whoa!!!
mjmqmurga
La voz de un angel en una mujer, Mis mejores años de niño ellos los llenaron con sus canciones..
zonieboy251
A voice like no other, we miss you Karen!!!
harpin569
Such a waste of amazing talent. Celebrities should be loved for their talent and not what they look like. Peoples words can be so hurtful. All it took was for her to read/hear the comments of an a** and the rest is history. RIP Karen you are and will remain missed. You are On Top of the World.
tbowmommy
I'm NO BABY!
jennifer.wea t h e r i l l
CARPENTERS
Early Lee Ann Rimes had a voice nearly this pure but Karen's is the gold standard.
Early Lee Ann Rimes had a voice nearly this pure but Karen's is the gold standard.
good music stands the test of time
mliu251
30 years after Karen's death, the still not a voice as angelic as hers. Her songs melt my heart every time I heard them.
I am 62 and l can honestly say that the carpenters are the one of the best duos of all times,karens voice and richards liricks ,you will be mised,G.B.Y. Santos.
dinaleader
Listening to her with my husband/love r . The best!
Pure talent. What a huge loss.
Just love them
There will never be another voice like hers. So sad! :(
It's been 31yrs Karen...you passed away on my 21st birthday. Whenever I hear one of your songs my eyes fill with tears.
...I can face all the madness the world has to give, but I won't last a day without you. Turns out I actually can make it more than many days...but I like to think I'm not really without you, Sweetheart.
Karen had the purest angelic voice I have heard to this day
My Dad like the Carpenters especially, their Christmas songs.
John Denver
Karen best
All we can do is listen and enjoy. What a musical lost.
angelic!
drwsoton4
simply magic
Karen Carpenter had one of the sweetest voices I have ever heard. What a tragedy loosing her at such a young age. I saw the Carpenters in concert in Tokyo Japan. The Japanese public were in love with the Carpenters.
I will always love listening to The Carpenters music...
Karen has always been my favorite female singer. I loved that women. Her songs touched my heart like no other. I hate that freaking anorexia nervosa disease. What a shame to have lost her or anyone else like that.
Karen Carpenter had one of the clearest voices I have ever heard. What a shame that she passed at such a young age. Being I am from Southern California it was additionally hard for me to see her life end.
rbi149
One of the greatest female voices in pop music, Karen leaves a legacy of beautiful songs which will always live on.
Sweet and simple song by my favorite. Lovely.
In 1971, while in the Air Force, stationed along the banks of the Yukon River in remote Galena, Alaska, Karen's voice soothed my 19 year-old soul while pining over my high school sweetheart.
kclarbull
It is so hard to believe that 31 years ago yesterday, in fact - February 4th, that Karen passed away. Her angelic voice still causes me to gasp in awe every single time I hear her.
I think if Karen carpenter somehow came back and sang at my funeral it would bring me immediately back to life. Brauriful
fivemacs5
My favorite music ever! I saw them in concert twice and We've Only Just Begun was sung at my wedding.
Her voice gives me the shivers regardless where I am or what I am doing....so perfect.
Love this song. Takes me to a time of innocence.
How tragic that a talented, successful, wealthy and famous performer died from - essentially - starvation. Such an unnecessary loss.
Takes me back to a time in the world of innocence.
Her voice really was angelic, and it's really too bad that she's not around to see the below compliments and the love that so many had for her....sad.. . . b u t she left some legacy.
She makes me cry. Such sweet memories. We lived in such a different world then.
jbtaurus69
My generation in song! Never to be forgotten: The Carpenters!
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