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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

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I love her voice it is so easy to sing them myself
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The carpenters were such a great team and it was so sad when she died. I play a lot of their music all the time plus the Artist that play from the 70s
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The trumpets I'm not sure who they were by you could have been Herb Alpert that I do believe they were close to Herb Alpert and his recording studio boy would I love to been a mouse in there pocket I've been drumming for 40 years heavy metal seen the whole bit but the carpenters and the Partridge Family were the roots somehow that became a lot of fun for me many hours of playing their music on the drums
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Richard Carpenter well he was just simply a genius
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I'll never forget the double bass Ludwig drum set Karen played and she just completely kicked you know what
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dumadagdj
wow!!!!
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dodd.harris
Ironically, many avant garde and edgier independent acts cite The Carpenters as major influences. The above bio doesn't even mention that she had excellent drumming skills and her minimalist approach and perfect meter are mentioned by many prominent artists. She also had perfect pitch.
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vivirpordios
Great memories when i listen to this.
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There never has been a voice like Karen's. My sister played Close to You Album and I was hooked. I was lucky enough to see them in concert mulitple times. Her passing was tragic. RIP Karen. You are so missed.
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Great memories. Thank you Karen and Richard.
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What a great loss at such a young age. Always enjoy their music, very soothing! RQ/rlh
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steve_weeks
Karen had a great set of pipes!!
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dumadagdj
Love it
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So talented, they make you tear up! What joy.
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Pretty crazy good. New to carpenters music as an alternative music guy but I love her voice. Pretty talented.
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I love this music
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So much talent, and such an amazing voice!
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Only the Good die young. William Joel How right he was. Maybe he should've said Only the BEST die young In this case Karen was the Superstar That Warhol was thinking of when he coined the phrase.
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Precious memories.i will always remember ..Thank u Pandora 4 bringing the carpenters back 2 all uv us.
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Close to You: I love the Carpenters' music. :-)
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Thank you for all of your beautiful music! RIP
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Miss you
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allisonvaugh n 2 4
I maybe 12 but I want this to be my wedding song. I love you Karen!!!! Rest In Peace.
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Bless The Beast and The Children: I love this song. there was a movie that this song went with by the same name as the song that featured the Billy Jack actor. It was very good. It was made in the early 70s. I haven't seen it since. Good song. Good movie. I think everyone needs to listen to this song and take it to heart. Thank you. PEACE b :-)
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It's Going To Take Some Time: EXACTLY.
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dragonlady60 8 8
rip Karen
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Superstar Medley: I love the Carpenters.
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Brings back memories of my childhood listening to this music sharing headphones with my cousin! My aunt and uncle were huge fans and because of them we were too! Love them!!!
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albriz68
The soundtrack of my childhood. My mother was a number one fan and played their music all the time. Acted as if her sister died when Karen passed. Every song means something to me and I too have shared it with my kids.
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toddsliberto
The voice of an angel
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Y...D.D..... .
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blueyedmom00 7
Karen Carpenter, what a voice!!! I agree with what all of u have said about how much their music meant and how Karen left us, too early.
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faithful.fay
I grew up singing with the Carpenters and have a full appreciation of their blending voices and beautiful melody that played with them. When Karen died I was heartbroken that we would never have another Carpenter song with her voice- how tragic for all of us, especially Richard. I have made sure that my children have good appreciation for this style music as well as the current and thankfully they are fans as well.
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I've always loved there music! She left us way to soon ! RIP Karen
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With the first notes of 'Close To You' we knew the Carpenters were going to be special and they were. So much great music they made...and memories. We lost Karen far too soon. I love their songs more than ever.
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pellicano1
We've almost just begin is one of my favorites. Reminds me of when my husband and I got married on April 2, 1970, almost 45 years ago. Love the Carpenters Music.
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jmdoogan3
Beautiful after all these yrs
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So sweet, I've loved Karen's singing for over 40 years !
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Beautiful voice. So smooth.
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a style to study. should be a college course..
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sassyone1951
THERE WILL NEVER BE A VOICE LIKE KAREN CARPENTER'S EVER.!!!!!!! ! ! !
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Definitely Beautiful:) Elegance!
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So sad illoved her
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rosannasavar i n o 9
It is true so true tomorrow it will be late we don't know when we will
Meet again
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we still miss Karen clean voice!
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My old time fave.
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Amazing Vocals, Simply Beautiful:)
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Yeah. .where are the lyrics
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a shame she had to die.
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Christopher Michael you should be ashamed
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