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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

Her melodic soothing voice was and is so very rare too find. A simply beautiful voice.
Makes me wanna get lost in the masquerade of melodies that is in this SONG!!!
She does have a beautiful voice
Too bad a beautiful voice was lost by society's bull sh** view that to be successful and attractive you had to starve yourself to death.
horse50man
Close to you was played at our wedding reception and I believe a gozillion more ---what a voice.
I agree w/forteasy! Hard to believe she's been gone for 31 yrs. She was so young too.
A beautiful god given voice that was taken from us way too soon. Karen, you are missed.
A Carpenter moment what a dreamy voice.
this is to depressing. sorry
An angel's voice on earth Karen R.I.P.
one-of-a-kin d singer. Refreshing.
Hello! I have a cousin in my native El Paso, named Diana, who plays drums; so does my brother-in-l a w Glenn. They, indeed, are following in Karen's footsteps on the simultaneous drumming and singing. Bozo the Clown also drums and sings lead in my imaginations . My sister and I will remember KC by her vocals, as well as her drumming! I sincerely send PEACE to her brother Richard and his family! The kids know they miss their Aunt Karen, and merely are following her footsteps and advice. R.I.P., KC!
Gone way too soon
Karen Carpenter is brilliant!
The Phil Ramone - Karen Carpenter album was certainly completed, Lovelines, and was a terrific entry into mature pop. KAT
roseann327
Karen Carpenters voice was one of the world's Great Wonders !! I miss her so and as singers rate, she is in the top ten of THE BEST !! xoxo
What a calm, warm voice! Karen never 'over-sung' a song or added too much frills to the melody and Richard's arrangements always brought out the best in Karen's interpretati o n s . She was truly one of a kind. One of my top 5 female vocalists.
ginadevans8
The Carpenters are among my favorite groups. Any vocalist can appreciate the vocalise of Karen Carpenter. I have never heard a voice with such quality and control. You can hear EVERY emotion in her voice when she sings. Her voice is truly GOD GIVEN, for only GOD could make something as beautiful as her voice. Any musician can appreciate Richard Carpenter's composition skills. The pair of them have etched out and secured their place in music history.
I'm currently reading a book defining Karen's demise to fit in with her parents high expectations . The book is called Little Girl Blue: The life of Karen Carpenter. I'm more than 1/4 of the book read. You will instantly get a sense of living in family that typically favors one sibling over another.
What a fantastic voice Karen had, Beautiful music that brings back wonderful memories.
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
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