Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Oct. 15: Richard Carpenter of The Carpenters is 67-years-old today.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Richard Lynn Carpenter is best known as one half of the brother & sister duo The Carpenters, along with his sister Karen Carpenter. Richard also composed some of their songs, sang backup and played keyboards. When they were kids, Richard frequently played the piano while his sister, Karen, played baseball outside.

When Richard was 16, the Carpenter family moved from New Haven to Downey, California. Richard studied music at the California State University at Long Beach where he met Frank Pooler, a conductor and composer. Pooler wrote the lyrics to the Christmas classic "Merry Christmas Darling" in 1968. Richard also met John Bettis, who co-wrote songs with Richard.

In 1965, the Richard Carpenter Trio consisted of Richard, Karen on drums and friend Wes Jacobs on tuba and bass. In 1966, the Richard Carpenter Trio played "Iced Tea" and "The Girl from Ipanema" at the Hollywood Bowl Battle of the Bands. They won the competition, and shortly after recorded three songs at RCA Studios: "Every Little Thing," "Strangers in the Night," and the Carpenter original, "Iced Tea." "Iced Tea" is the only recording that was officially released to the public.

In 1967, Richard and Karen joined four other student musicians from Long Beach State to form a sextet named Spectrum. the group's complicated harmonies and shunning of traditional rock 'n roll limited the band's popularity.

Richard and Karen signed with A&M Records in 1969 under the direction of Herb Alpert. Alpert suggested that the Carpenters record a Burt Bacharach song called "(They Long to Be) Close to You." Richard's arranging and musical talents, as well as Karen's vocals, helped the song go to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stay there for a month.

One evening while watching TV, Richard saw a commercial for Crocker National Bank featuring a snippet of a Paul Williams song "We've Only Just Begun." Richard turned a bank commercial jingle into an RIAA certified Gold Record. It peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and has become a common wedding song.

Richard composed many of the Carpenters' hits, such as "Goodbye to Love," "Top of the World," "Yesterday Once More," and "Only Yesterday."

(Continued below videos and Amazon portal ...)

(Press album cover for direct link to the entire Amazon Website):

Pianist Arranger Composer Conductor

Karen died on February 4, 1983. It took Richard four years to release a solo album called Time. It featured Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick.

In 1996, Carpenter released Richard Carpenter: Pianist, Arranger, Composer, Conductor, which included reworkings of many Carpenters favorites, including hits and album tracks, and ends with "Karen's Theme", which Carpenter composed for the 1989 movie, "The Karen Carpenter Story."


For more about Richard and Karen, visit this Website:




  1. Karen Carpenter had a one of a kind voice. Her voice gets down to your soul. It's tragic how she passed away. It's horrible that society makes women feel they have to be walking skeletons to be accepted. Maybe if Karen were born nowadays she would have gotten the help she needed.

  2. Karen's voice was natural and not contrived. She was able to convey the meaning of what she sang without excessive drama.
    As for her death; I agree with you, to a point, but she was suffering from a real illness that was not well recognized at the time. But since her brother had a drug problem, I wonder is there wasn't something else going on; insecurity on both their parts? Maybe the pressure of success? I think all three of these, plus what you said - societal expectations - took its toll. Sad because Karen could have still been performing and turning out classics.

  3. Before I forget: Press the hyperlink at Karen's name in the text and watch her sing "Superstar," which is my favorite Carpenters song.

  4. Hearing her voice brings floods of memories of my youth, absolutely love The Carpenters songs, was sad when I heard of Karens death all those years ago & still feel sad at her struggle with anorexia, its a shame she loved drumming & they didnt allow her to do it because of public perception or was it the powers-that-be's perception? Something that would have given her joy was denied her, its a shame. She left us with sounds of a mellow smooth deep sensual voice, love it. Thanks Karen.

  5. It's sad that so little was known about anorexia at the time Karen was suffering w the disease. I'm sure her early death from this gripping disease, over the last three decades, has saved tens of thousands of women from having the same fate of Karen. I was studying psychology at the university of Texas in Austin in feb 1983 and was so distraught to hear of her death at such a young age--32.

    I started listening to Karen and richard's songs when I was in the seventh grade-- 1971. I had a big crush on one of my teachers and used to daydream about her while singing 'Close to you'. Her voice was so pure it transported me whereever I wanted to go with my emotions. Keep selling her records and richard's too. They are all timeless American classics that most everyone loves


  6. I love Richard and Karen Carpenter. True American icons!
    I was born and raised in Downey. They were the pride of the city, thats for sure!

    much love to the carpenters!