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While I feel that most people who check out this site will be friends, family and people from other Carpenters sites, there could be people who find this site and know nothing of the Carpenters. This page will simply give some background information. While I do have knowledge of their background, I am borrowing the following text from Wikapedia, doing my own editing. The photos on this page are all from the booklet that accompanied the compilation "From the Top."
The Carpenters were an American vocal and instrumental duo consisting of siblings Karen (1950–1983) and Richard Carpenter (b. 1946). They produced a distinct soft musical style, combining Karen's contralto vocals with Richard's arranging and composition skills. During their 14-year career, the Carpenters recorded ten albums, along with numerous singles and several television specials.
The siblings were born in New Haven, Connecticut, and moved to Downey, California, in 1963. Richard took piano lessons as a child, progressing to California State University, Long Beach, while Karen learned the drums. They first performed together as a duo in 1965 and formed the jazz-oriented Richard Carpenter Trio followed by the middle-of-the-road group Spectrum.
Signing as Carpenters to A&M Records in 1969, they achieved major success the following year with the hit singles "(They Long to Be) Close to You" and "We've Only Just Begun". Subsequently, the duo's brand of melodic pop produced a record-breaking run of hit recordings on the American Top 40 and Adult Contemporary charts, and they became leading sellers in the soft rock, easy listening and adult contemporary music genres. The Carpenters had three number-one singles and five number-two singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and fifteen number-one hits on the Adult Contemporary chart, in addition to twelve top-10 singles. They have sold more than 90 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
The duo toured continually during the 1970s, which put them under increased strain; Richard took a year off in 1979 after he had become addicted to Quaalude, while Karen suffered from anorexia nervosa.
Their career together ended in 1983 when Karen died from heart failure brought on by complications of anorexia. Extensive news coverage surrounding these circumstances increased public awareness of eating disorders. Though the Carpenters were criticized for their clean-cut and wholesome conservative image in the 1970s, their music has since been re-evaluated, attracting critical acclaim and continued commercial success.
Richard Carpenter was the creative force behind the Carpenters' sound. An accomplished keyboard player, composer and arranger, music critic Daniel Levitin called him "one of the most gifted arrangers to emerge in popular music." The duo's smooth harmonies were not in step with contemporary music, which was dominated by heavy rock. Many of Richard's arrangements were classically influenced, featuring strings and occasional brass and woodwind.
Karen did not possess a powerful singing voice, but close miking brought out many nuances in her performances. Richard arranged their music to take advantage of this, though Karen had a three-octave vocal range. Richard's work with Karen was influenced by the music of Les Paul, whose overdubbing of the voice of wife and musical partner Mary Ford allowed her to be used as both the lead and harmony vocals. By multi-tracking, Richard was able to use Karen and himself for the harmonies to back Karen's lead. The overdubbed background harmonies were distinctive to the Carpenters, but it was the soulful, engaging sound of Karen's lead voice that made them so recognizable.
Karen was an accomplished drummer, and felt she was a drummer who sang. However, while Karen's vocals soon became the centerpiece of the group's performances, at 5 ft 4 in tall, performing behind her drum kit made it difficult for audiences to see her and it was soon apparent to Richard and their manager that the audience wanted to see more of Karen. Although unwilling, she eventually agreed to sing the ballads standing up front, returning to her drums for the lesser known songs. Karen used Ludwig Drums, Zildjian cymbals, a Rogers foot pedal and hi-hat stand, 11A drumsticks and Remo drumheads.
On February 1, 1983, Karen and Richard met for dinner and discussed future plans for the Carpenters, including a return to touring. On February 3, Karen visited her parents, and discussed finalizing her divorce from Burris. The following morning, her mother found her lying unresponsive on the floor of a walk-in closet, and she was rushed to the hospital. After Richard and his parents spent 20 minutes in a waiting room, a doctor entered and told them Karen had died. The autopsy stated that her death was caused by "emetine cardiotoxicity due to or as a consequence of anorexia nervosa." Under the anatomical summary, the first item was heart failure, followed by anorexia. The third finding was cachexia, which is extremely low weight and weakness and general body decline associated with chronic disease. Emetine cardiotoxicity implied that Karen abused ipecac syrup, although there was no evidence to suggest that she did as her brother and family never found ipecac vials in her apartment, even after her death.
Karen's funeral was at the Downey United Methodist Church on February 8, 1983. More than a thousand mourners attended, among them her friends Dorothy Hamill, Olivia Newton-John, Petula Clark, Dionne Warwick and Herb Alpert.
On October 12, 1983, the Carpenters received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Richard, Harold and Agnes Carpenter attended the inauguration, as did many fans. Karen's death brought media attention to anorexia nervosa and related conditions such as bulimia nervosa, which were little known about at the time.