her silky voice and that it was lower than a lot of female artists. She could also go up
three octaves which created all kinds of opportunities for different song choices.
Although they were different from a personality perspective both Karen and Richard shared a love of music and they listened to it all the time. Richard ended up being a great song writer and musician so he’d get Karen involved so he could hear how his songs would sound. Unlike many band members who struggle with relationships while on the road, Karen and Richard were doing great until she started making herself sick so she could lose weight. At one point she passed out during a concert in Las Vegas and
Richard was livid that she was ruining both of their careers.
They never really recovered from this as Karen wouldn’t stop and was losing weight dramatically to where she no longer looked attractive, and Richard started taking drugs which went completely against their squeaky clean image. Something unique to Richard that most musicians know about, is that he was the leading pioneer in using an electric piano on stage. He no longer had to worry about a piano being available when they toured and he didn’t have to worry about the pianos being in tune when he arrived. These things were very stressful to him.
Karen always struggled with her weight even when she was a teenager; the record label was a little worried about this. When she got older the family figured out what she was doing to herself and asked her to get help but anorexia was a rare illness back then so there weren't that many experts in the field. Karen didn’t want help anyway, partly because it would negatively affect their touring and partly because of the stigma attached to anorexia.
Many people in the music industry would agree The Carpenters didn’t get the credit they deserved. Music critics covered the mainstream music like Hard Rock, R&B, and Soul, and paid less attention to Contemporary, Pop, and Soft Rock music. These people along with DJ’s who chose what to play, could steer an artist’s career whether good or bad. But attempts to pan The Carpenters became difficult because they kept showing up on the charts (several times number one), and winning awards because of their huge fan base, which uniquely included almost every age group.
Here are some of their amazing accomplishments:
They performed 814 concerts over a 14 year period. They did have to cancel 46 shows along the way because of Karen and Richard’s problems. They created 23 albums, participated in 23 TV shows, and won 18 music awards. Their first year alone they were nominated for eight awards and won Best New Artists of the Year and Best Vocal Performance. In 1973, The Carpenters were voted Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo, or Group at the first annual American Music Awards. They sold over 100,000,000 records which is comparable to Fleetwood Mac and about three times more than most of the popular rock bands of the 70's. The fact is, "cool," people who didn't want to admit they liked The Carpenters, were apparently buying their records.
Karen visited her parents on the morning before her death and the very next day her mom found Karen on the floor of her walk-in closet and she wasn’t responsive. Not long after the ambulance got her to the hospital she was pronounced dead. The autopsy stated that Karen's death was a heart attack caused by anorexia nervosa. After a long 14 year career her voice was officially silenced; that beautiful silky voice gone after 32 years of life. Richard is still alive and has five children and continues to produce and write.
I hope these songs will bring back memories of how Karen sang and the fact that we lost a superstar: “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Close to You,” and “Yesterday Once