The Carpenters were an American vocal and instrumental duo, consisting of siblings Karen and Richard Carpenter. Though often referred to by the public as The Carpenters, the duo's official name on authorized recordings and press materials is simply "Carpenters". During a period in the 1970s when louder and wilder rock was in great demand, Richard and Karen produced a distinctively soft musical style that made them among the best-selling music artists of all time.
Carpenters' 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 genres. Carpenters had three No. 1 singles and five No. 2 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and fifteen No. 1 hits on the Adult Contemporary chart (see The Carpenters discography). In addition, they had twelve top 10 singles (including their No. 1 hits). To date, Carpenters' album and single sales total more than 100 million units.
During their 14-year career, the Carpenters recorded 11 albums, thirty-one singles, five television specials, and a short-lived television series. They toured in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, the Netherlands and Belgium. Their recording career ended with Karen's death in 1983 from cardiac arrest following complications of anorexia nervosa. Extensive news coverage of the circumstances surrounding her death increased public awareness of the consequences of eating disorders.
One of the elements that made the music of the Carpenters distinctive was Karen's use of her low register. Though present in jazz and country music, there were few contralto singers in popular music at the time. However, Karen had a wide vocal range that spanned about three octaves. As a result of a decided lack of enthusiasm all around for Karen's "head voice", they mostly concentrated on her lower range, i.e. "chest voice" (or her "basement", as Karen called it). "Both Karen and I felt the magic was in her 'chest voice' (a.k.a. 'basement'). There is no comparison in terms of richness in sound, so I wasn't about to highlight the upper voice", states Richard in the "Fans Ask" section of the Carpenters' official website.
Because Karen's magic was in the "basement", Richard always rearranged cover songs and his own songs in a key that would suit her. Many of the Carpenters' songs are in the keys of D ("You", "There's a Kind of Hush"), E flat ("Only Yesterday"), E ("Hurting Each Other", "Yesterday Once More"), F ("I'll Never Fall in Love Again"), and G ("And When He Smiles", "Reason to Believe", "For All We Know", "You'll Love Me").
Although he played many keyboard instruments during the band's existence, including grand piano, harpsichord, Hammond organ and synthesizer, Richard is best known as an endorser of Wurlitzer's electric pianos, whose sound he described as "warm" and "beautiful". He would often double his acoustic piano parts with a Wurlitzer in the studio to thicken the sound. From the mid-1970s Richard also used Fender Rhodes pianos, often having an acoustic grand as well as both Rhodes and Wurlitzer electric pianos on stage for different songs.
Apart from being a singer, Karen was also an accomplished drummer, and often played the drums on their pre-1974 songs. According to Richard, she considered herself a "drummer who sang". Karen was rarely visible behind the drums during live performances. Although unwilling, she and Richard eventually reached a performance compromise: during the ballads she would sing standing and through the lesser known songs she would sit. As the years progressed, demand for Karen's vocals began to overshadow her drumming time, and gradually she played the drums less. By the A Kind of Hush album in 1976, Karen did not play the drums at all.
Most of the Carpenters' arrangements (which, with few exceptions, were done by Richard) are classical in style, with many strings, and sometimes brass and woodwinds ("Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" used over 160 singers and musicians). Music critic Daniel Levitin called Richard Carpenter "one of the most gifted arrangers to emerge in popular music."
The Carpenters were both born at Grace-New Haven Hospital (now called Yale-New Haven Hospital) in New Haven, Connecticut, to parents Harold and Agnes. Richard Lynn was born on October 15, 1946, and Karen Anne followed on March 2, 1950. Richard was a quiet child who spent most of his time in the house listening to records and playing the piano. Karen, on the other hand, was friendly and outgoing; she liked to play sports, including softball with the neighborhood kids, but she also spent a lot of time listening to music.
In June 1963, the Carpenter family moved to the Los Angeles suburb of Downey, California. In the fall of 1964, Richard enrolled at California State College at Long Beach (now officially California State University, Long Beach, but popularly known as Long Beach State), where he met future songwriting partner John Bettis; Wesley Jacobs, a friend who played the bass and tuba for the Richard Carpenter Trio; and Frank Pooler, with whom Richard would collaborate to create the Christmas standard "Merry Christmas Darling" in 1966.
Friend and fellow band member Frankie Chavez inspired Karen to play the drums. She would often borrow Chavez's drum kit when he taught her. "She and Frankie ... must have worked down the rudiments, the cadences, and the press-rolls for hours", recalls Richard. When Karen finally got a Ludwig drum kit from her parents in late 1964, she was able to play it professionally, in what Richard had described in their documentary, Close to You: Remembering the Carpenters as "exotic time signatures".
By 1965, Karen had been practicing the drums for a year, and Richard was refining his piano techniques with Pooler as his teacher. The two started a jazz trio in late 1965 with their friend Wes Jacobs, who played bass and tuba.
The Richard Carpenter Trio signed up for the annual Hollywood Bowl Battle of the Bands in mid-1966, where they played an instrumental version of "The Girl from Ipanema" and their own "Iced Tea". The trio won the Battle of the Bands on June 24, 1966, and were signed up by RCA Records. They recorded songs such as The Beatles' "Every Little Thing" and Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night" for RCA. A couple of these recordings were released in 1991, as part of "From The Top" boxed set of Carpenters material.
Later in 1966, Karen tagged along at a late-night session in the garage studio of Los Angeles bassist Joe Osborn, and joined future Carpenters collaborator and lyricist John Bettis at a demo session where Richard was to accompany an auditioning trumpet player. Asked to sing, Karen performed for Osborn, who said "Never mind the trumpet player; this chubby little girl can sing."
Osborn signed Karen by herself as a singer to his fledgling label, Magic Lamp Records, and the label put out a single featuring two of Richard's compositions, "Looking for Love" and "I'll Be Yours". The single was not a hit, and the label soon became defunct. However, Osborn let Karen and Richard continue to use his studio to record demo tapes until 1969, when they finally got an offer from A&M Records.
In 1967, Richard and Karen teamed up with four other student musicians from Long Beach State to form a band called "Spectrum". The group often performed at the Whisky a Go Go. Spectrum member John Bettis worked with the Carpenters until Karen's death in 1983, composing many songs with Richard.
In 1968, Spectrum disbanded, and the Richard Carpenter Trio's Wes Jacobs left for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Richard and Karen received an offer to be on the television program Your All American College Show in mid-1968. Their June 22, 1968 performance was Richard's and Karen's first television appearance.
Richard and Karen sent their demo tapes to many record labels until A&M Records' co-owner and trumpeter/vocalist Herb Alpert (who happened to be a friend of a friend of their mother's) became attracted to their distinct sound.
Richard and Karen Carpenter signed to A&M Records on April 22, 1969, under the name "Carpenters". Since Karen was technically underage (she was 19 at the time), her parents had to co-sign for her. Richard and Karen had decided to sign as "Carpenters", without the definite article. In the album notes for their 2004 release, Carpenters Gold: 35th Anniversary Edition, Richard stated:
Offering (Ticket to Ride) Edit
When Richard and Karen Carpenter signed to A&M Records, they were given carte blanche in the recording studio. Their debut album, entitled Offering released in 1969, featured a number of songs that Richard had written or co-written during their Spectrum period. A ballad rendition of The Beatles hit "Ticket to Ride" became a minor hit for Carpenters, peaking at No. 54 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Top 20 of the Adult Contemporary chart. In an effort to cash in on the success of that track, Offering was repackaged with a different cover under the name Ticket to Ride in 1970.
In 1970, the Carpenters version of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song "(They Long to Be) Close to You" was released as a single. It debuted at No. 56, the highest debut of the week ending June 20, 1970. It rose to No. 1 on July 25, 1970 and stayed on top of the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks.
Their next hit was with a song Richard had seen in a television commercial for Crocker National Bank, "We've Only Just Begun", which was written by Paul Williams and Roger Nichols. Three months after "(They Long to Be) Close to You" reached No. 1, Carpenters' version of "We've Only Just Begun" reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first of their eventual five No. 2 hits (it wasn't able to get past "I'll Be There" by The Jackson 5 & "I Think I Love You" by The Partridge Family during its four-week stay). The song became the first hit single for Williams and Nichols and is considered by Richard Carpenter to be the group's signature tune.
"Close to You" and "We've Only Just Begun" became RIAA certified Gold singles and were featured on the best-selling album Close to You, which placed No. 175 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list in 2003.
The duo rounded out the year with the holiday release of "Merry Christmas Darling". The single scored high on the holiday charts and would repeatedly return to the holiday charts in subsequent years. In 1978, feeling she could give a more mature treatment to the tune, Karen re-cut the vocal for their Christmas TV special; this remake also became a hit.
Carpenters and A Song for You Edit
A string of hit singles and albums kept Carpenters on the charts through the early 1970s. Their 1971 hit "For All We Know" was originally recorded in 1970, by Larry Meredith, for a wedding scene in the movie Lovers and Other Strangers. Upon hearing it in the movie theatre, Richard saw potential in it and subsequently recorded it in the autumn of 1970. The track became Carpenters' third gold single.
The duo's fourth gold single "Rainy Days and Mondays" became Williams' and Nichols' second major single with Carpenters, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, kept from the top slot only by Carole King's "It's Too Late".
"Superstar", written by Bonnie Bramlett and Leon Russell, became the duo's third No. 2 single on the Billboard Hot 100. Their eponymous third album was released in 1971. It became one of their best sellers, earning RIAA certification for platinum four times. It won a Grammy Award for Carpenters, as well as three other nominations.
"Goodbye to Love", a Carpenter/Bettis original with a gritty guitar solo by Tony Peluso which set it apart from most Carpenters songs, became their third 1972 hit single, peaking at No. 7. Peluso would continue to work with Carpenters until their end in 1983.
Another Carpenter/Bettis composition, "Top of the World", was originally intended as strictly an album cut, but when Lynn Anderson scored a hit with the song in early 1973, Carpenters opted to record their own single version. It was released in September 1973, and became Carpenters' second Billboard No. 1 hit in December 1973.
Their Now & Then album from 1973 was named by mother Agnes Carpenter. It contained the popular Sesame Street song "Sing" and the ambitious "Yesterday Once More", a side-long tribute to oldies radio which incorporated renditions of eight hit songs from previous decades into a faux oldies radio program. The single version of the track became their biggest hit in the United Kingdom, holding the number 2 spot for two weeks; it was kept off the top first by Gary Glitter's "I'm the Leader of the Gang (I Am)" and then by Donny Osmond's version of "Young Love".
In 1974, Carpenters achieved a sizable international hit with an up-tempo remake of Hank Williams's "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)". While the song was not released as a single in the U.S., it reached the top 30 in Japan, number 12 in the United Kingdom (as part of a double A-side with "Mr. Guder"), and number 3 in the Netherlands. In late 1974, a Christmas single followed, a jazz-influenced rendition of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town".
The Carpenters did not record a new album in 1974. In Richard's words, "there was simply no time to make one. Nor was I in the mood." During this period, the pair released just one Hot 100 single, a Paul Williams/Roger Nichols composition called "I Won't Last a Day Without You". Taken from their 1972 LP A Song for You, the Carpenters finally decided to release their original two years after its original LP release and some months after Maureen McGovern's 1973 cover. In March 1974, the single version became the fifth and final selection from that album project to chart in the Top 20, reaching No. 11 on the Hot 100 on 25 May 1974. Since "Top of the World" was at No. 11 and falling in 1974's first week and "Please Mr. Postman" was at No. 11 and rising in 1974's last week, the Carpenters failed all three times, by one position each time, that year to reach the top 10.
In place of the new album for 1974, their first greatest hits package was released, featuring new remixes of their prior hit singles, some with a newly-recorded lead, and including newly recorded bridges and transition material so that each side of the album would play through with no breaks. This compilation was entitled The Singles: 1969-1973 and it topped the charts in the U.S. for one week, on 5 January 1974. It also topped the United Kingdom chart for 17 weeks (non-consecutive) and became one of the best-selling albums of the decade, ultimately selling more than 7 million copies in the U.S. alone.
In 1975, The Carpenters gained another hit with a remake of The Marvelettes' chart-topping Motown classic from 1961, "Please Mr. Postman". Released in late 1974, the song soared to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1975, becoming the duo's third and final No. 1 pop single. It also earned Karen and Richard their record-setting twelfth million-selling gold single in America.
Both singles appeared on their 1975 LP Horizon, which also included covers of The Eagles' "Desperado" and Neil Sedaka's "Solitaire", which became a moderate hit for the duo that year. Horizon was certified platinum, but owing to the disc's late release (after the second single was already dropping off the charts), it was their first album to fall short of multi-platinum status.
The Carpenters were among the first American recording acts to produce music videos to promote their records. In early 1975, they filmed a performance of "Please Mr. Postman" at Disneyland as well as "Only Yesterday" at the Huntington Gardens.
A Kind of Hush and Passage Edit
Their subsequent album A Kind of Hush, released on June 11, 1976, achieved gold status, but again owing to its late release, became the first Carpenters album not to become a platinum certified record since Ticket to Ride seven years earlier. Their singles releases in 1976 were successful, but at this time, contemporary hit radio was moving forward with changing musical styles, which ultimately made the careers of most "soft" groups like Carpenters suffer. The duo's biggest pop single that year was a cover of Herman's Hermits' "There's a Kind of Hush (All Over the World)", which peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. "I Need to Be in Love" (Karen's favorite song by Carpenters) charted at No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, it followed "There's a Kind of Hush" to the top spot on the Adult Contemporary charts and became the duo's 14th No. 1 Adult Contemporary hit, far and away more than any other act in the history of the chart.
The disco craze was in full swing by 1977, and adult-appeal "easy listening" artists like Carpenters were getting less airplay. Their experimental album, Passage, released in 1977, marked an attempt to broaden their appeal by venturing into other musical genres. The album featured an unlikely mix of jazz fusion ("B'wana She No Home"), calypso ("Man Smart, Woman Smarter"), and orchestrated balladry ("I Just Fall in Love Again", "Two Sides"), and included the hits, "All You Get from Love Is a Love Song", "Sweet, Sweet Smile", and "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft". "Calling Occupants" was supported with the TV special Space Encounters, which aired May 17, 1978. Although the single release of "Calling Occupants" became a significant hit in the United Kingdom, it only peaked at number 32 on the U.S. pop charts, and for the first time a Carpenters album did not reach the gold threshold of 500,000 copies shipped in the United States. In early 1978, they scored a surprise Top 10 country hit with the up-tempo, fiddle-sweetened "Sweet, Sweet Smile", written by country-pop singer Juice Newton and her longtime musical partner Otha Young.
In place of a new album for 1978, a second compilation, The Singles: 1974-1978, was released however, only in the UK. Meanwhile, in the United States, their first Christmas album, Christmas Portrait, proved to be an exception to their faltering career at home and became a seasonal favorite, returning Karen and Richard to platinum status. It was shortly followed by The Carpenters: A Christmas Portrait, a television special which aired December 19, 1978.
During the sessions, several non-Christmas songs were also recorded such as "Where Do I Go from Here", "Slow Dance", and "Honolulu City Lights", most of which would not see the light of day until after Karen's death as a part of numerous albums made up of outtakes.
Brief hiatus, Made in America and Karen's final days Edit
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Richard sought treatment for his addiction to quaaludes at a Topeka, Kansas, facility for six weeks starting in January 1979. He then decided to take the rest of the year off for relaxation and rehabilitation. Karen, at this point neither wanting to take a break from singing nor seek help for her anorexia, decided to pursue a solo album project with renowned producer Phil Ramone in New York. The choice of Ramone and more adult-oriented and disco/dance-tempomaterial represented an effort to retool her image. The album was finished by Spring 1980, but A&M executives voted to cancel it. It was finally released 13 years after Karen's death, in 1996.
Karen proceeded with plans to record a new album with her brother, who had now recovered from his addiction and was ready to continue their career. The Carpenters produced their final television special in 1980, called Music, Music, Music!, with guest stars Ella Fitzgerald, Suzanne Somers, and John Davidson. However, ABC was not happy with the special as it was music from start to finish, unlike the previous specials which included sketch-based comedy. ABC felt it was too much like a PBS program.
On June 16, 1981, the Carpenters released what would become their final LP as a duo, Made in America. The album sold around 200,000 copies and spawned a final top 20 pop single, "Touch Me When We're Dancing", which reached No. 16 on the Hot 100. It also became their fifteenth and final number one Adult Contemporary hit. Promotion for the album included a whistle-stop tour of America, Brazil and Europe, preceded by a disastrous live appearance for a Japanese Telethon event, filmed outdoors on the lot of A&M in August 1981. During their segment (the last of the show), the playback audio cut out midway through their performance of "Touch Me When We're Dancing". The ensuing scenes along with Karen's furious reaction, left it obvious to viewers that the whole band had been miming. Three further singles from the album failed to ignite the charts.
Karen sought therapy for her eating disorder with noted psychotherapist Steven Levenkron in New York City. In September 1982, she called her therapist to say her heart was beating 'funny' and she felt dizzy and confused. Admitting herself into hospital, Karen was hooked up to an intravenous drip; she needed to gain 30 pounds. By November 1982, Karen left the hospital. Despite pleas from family and friends, she announced that she was returning home to California and that she was cured.
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Karen visited her parents on the morning before her death. The following morning, her mother found her lying unresponsive on the floor of a walk-in closet. After they spent 20 minutes in a waiting room, a doctor entered to tell Richard and his parents that Karen was dead. The autopsy stated that Karen's death was caused by emetine cardiotoxicity resulting from anorexia nervosa. Under the anatomical summary, the first item was heart failure, with anorexia as second. 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 for a long time after her death there was no evidence to suggest that Karen abused it.
On October 12, 1983, the Carpenters received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a few yards from the Kodak Theatre. Richard, Harold and Agnes Carpenter attended the inauguration, as did many fans.
Karen's death brought media attention to anorexia nervosa and also to bulimia. Karen's death encouraged celebrities to go public about their eating disorders, among them actress Tracey Gold and later, Diana, Princess of Wales. Medical centers and hospitals began receiving increased contacts from people with these disorders. The general public had little knowledge of anorexia and bulimia prior to her death, making the conditions difficult to identify and treat.
The Carpenters' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.Following Karen's death, Richard Carpenter has continued to produce recordings of the duo's music, including several albums of previously unreleased material and numerous compilation albums. Voice of the Heart, an album that included some finished tracks left off of Made in America and earlier LPs, was released in late 1983. It peaked at No. 46 and was certified Gold. Two singles were released. "Make Believe It's Your First Time", a second version of a song Karen had recorded for her solo album (and a song which had been a minor hit in 1979 for Bobby Vinton), reached No. 7 Adult Contemporary but only reached No. 101 on the pop side. "Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore" got to No. 12 Adult Contemporary. Richard Carpenter married his first cousin, Mary Rudolph, on May 19, 1984. Kristi Lynn (which was the name Karen had chosen for a daughter if she ever had one) [Little Girl Blue] was born on August 17, 1987, Traci Tatum on July 25, 1989, Mindi Karen (named after her late aunt) on July 7, 1992, followed by Colin Paul and Taylor Mary.
For the second Christmas season following Karen's death, Richard constructed a "new" Carpenters Christmas album entitled An Old-Fashioned Christmas, using outtake material from the duo's first Christmas album Christmas Portrait and recording new material around it.
Richard Carpenter lives with his wife, Mary Rudolph-Carpenter, and their four daughters and one son in Thousand Oaks, California, where the couple are supporters of the arts. In 2004, Carpenter and his wife pledged a $3 million gift to the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Foundation in memory of Karen Carpenter. More recently, Richard has actively supported the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center at his alma mater California State University, Long Beach. He continues to make concert appearances, including fund raising efforts for the Carpenter Center.
In 2007 and 2008, the current owners of the former Carpenter family home on Newville Avenue in Downey, obtained permits from the city to tear down the existing buildings on the site to make room for newer and larger structures, in spite of ongoing protests from fans. In February 2008, a group of fans got their protest campaign covered in the Los Angeles Times. At that time an adjacent house that had once served as the band's headquarters and recording studio had already been demolished and the main house was on the verge of being demolished as well. The original house was immortalized on the Now & Then album cover and was the place where Karen Carpenter died: in the words of Carpenters fan Jon Konjoyan, "this was our version of Graceland."
In 1971, the A&M graphics department hired Craig Braun and Associates to design the album cover for their third album, entitled Carpenters. "I recognized it to be a great logo as soon as I saw it", says Richard. In addition, the logo was used on every Carpenters album since the third one as said by Richard, "to keep things consistent, though, every Carpenters album from the logo’s inception shows the logo." The logo did not appear on the front cover of their album Passage but a small version appeared on the back cover.
Although the Carpenters had a rough start in 1969 with the lukewarm reviews of their first album, Offering, they tried to promote themselves by being Burt Bacharach's opening performance. In a live concert in 1974 at The Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, Karen Carpenter explained:
One night, we were doing a benefit dinner after the premiere of "Hello, Dolly!", and Burt Bacharach walked up to us, and he asked us if we would like to open the show for him at another dinner that he was going to be doing later on in the year. And he asked us to do something that turned out to be very, very special for us.
Then, Richard took over, and said:
He wanted us to put together a medley of his songs; any tunes of his that we wanted to do, and it took a couple of months. We arrived at 8 tunes.
The band maintained a demanding schedule of concert tours and television appearances. Among their numerous television credits were appearances on such popular series as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Carol Burnett Show in 1971 and 1972, The Mike Douglas Show in 1971, and The Johnny Cash Show, also in 1971, where they played their hits "For All We Know" and "Rainy Days and Mondays". The duo appeared in a television special on the BBC in 1971 where they performed songs "live". They were also the featured performers in a summer replacement series, Make Your Own Kind of Music, which aired on NBC every Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. in the United States. Both Karen and Richard would later state in a 1980 radio interview that they were often taken advantage of in their dealings with television during the early seventies and wanted more control in the production of future projects.
The Carpenters played numerous concerts from 1971 to 1975:
|Year||Number of concerts||Number of TV appearances|
|1971||145 concerts||10 TV appearances (as well as Make Your Own Kind of Music)|
|1972||174 concerts||6 TV appearances|
|1973||174 concerts||3 TV appearances|
|1975||118 concerts + 46 postponed shows||Zero|
By the mid-1970s, extensive touring and lengthy recording sessions had begun to take their toll on the duo and contributed to their professional and personal difficulties during the latter half of the decade. Karen dieted obsessively and developed the disorder anorexia nervosa, which first manifested itself in 1975 when she collapsed during a show in Las Vegas. Exhausted, Karen was forced to cancel concert tours in the Philippines, UK and Japan. Richard has said that he regrets the six- and seven-day work schedules of that period, adding that had he known then what he knows now, he wouldn't have agreed to it. Karen looked noticeably thin—although not sickly—in the music video produced for the "Only Yesterday" single. Richard developed an addiction to quaaludes, which began to affect his performance in the late 1970s and led to the end of the duo's live concert appearances in 1978.
Carpenters' popularity often confounded critics. With their output focused on ballads and mid-tempo pop, the duo's music was often dismissed by critics as being bland and saccharine. The recording industry, however, bestowed awards on the duo, who won three Grammy Awards during their career (Best New Artist, and Best Pop Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus, for "(They Long to Be) Close to You" in 1970; and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Groupfor the LP Carpenters in 1971). In 1973, Carpenters were voted Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo, or Group at the first annual American Music Awards.
Richard would often state in interviews, that many critics usually judged them to "drink milk, eat apple pie and take showers."
I don't even like milk. Not that we're totally opposite from that, we're not. But there is an in-between - I don't drink ... a lot. I do have wine with dinner. I voted to make marijuana legal....
In Coleman's The Carpenters: The Untold Story, Richard stressed repeatedly how much he disliked the A&M executives for making their image "squeaky-clean", and the critics for criticising them for their image rather than their music.
I got upset when this whole "squeaky clean" thing was tagged on to us. I never thought about standing for anything! They (the critics) took Close to You and said: "Aha, you see that number one? THAT's for the people who believe in apple pie! THAT's for people who believe in the American flag! THAT's for the average middle-American person and his station wagon! The Carpenters stand for that, and I'm taking them to my bosom!" And boom, we got tagged with that label.
A critical re-evaluation of Carpenters occurred during the 1990s and 2000s with the making of several documentaries produced in the United States, Japan, and Great Britain, like Close to You: Remembering the Carpenters (United States), The Sayonara (Japan), and Only Yesterday: The Carpenters Story (Great Britain). It's been said that Karen's signature vocals helped spur more contralto singers into pop music such as Anne Murray, Rita Coolidge, and Melissa Manchester. In 1990, the alternative rock band Sonic Youth recorded "Tunic (Song for Karen)", which depicted Karen saying goodbye to relatives as she got to play the drums again and meet her new "friends", Dennis Wilson, Elvis Presley and Janis Joplin. Despite contentions that their sound was "too soft" to fall under the definition of rock and roll, major campaigns and petitions exist toward inducting Carpenters in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
A tribute album, If I Were a Carpenter, by contemporary artists such as Sonic Youth, Bettie Serveert, Shonen Knife, Grant Lee Buffalo, Matthew Sweet, and The Cranberries, appeared in 1994 and provided an alternative rock interpretation of Carpenters hits.
Several of their songs have achieved the status of popular standards. "Superstar" has been covered by numerous artists, with popular recordings from Luther Vandross and Ruben Studdard to Bette Midler, Shonen Knife, and Sonic Youth.
Modern entertainers such as Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Shania Twain, Jann Arden, Anastacia, The Corrs, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, Chrissie Hynde, Gloria Estefan, LeAnn Rimes, Michelle Wright, K.D. Lang, Kelly Jones ofStereophonics, Christina Perri, Beyonce, Johnny Borrell of Razorlight, Jo O'Meara from S Club, Carnie Wilson from Wilson Phillips, Mandy Moore, Michael Jackson, and Madonna have listed Karen Carpenter as a huge influence on their careers.
Main article: List of songs by The CarpentersCarpenters released 30 singles during their career. Of the thirty, ten were RIAA certified Gold and twenty-two peaked in the top 10 on the Adult Contemporary chart. In addition, Carpenters also had ten albums from 1969–1983. Five of the albums contained two or more top 20 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 (Close to You, Carpenters, A Song for You, Now & Then, and Horizon). Main article: The Carpenters discography*1969: Ticket to Ride
- 1970: Close to You
- 1971: Carpenters
- 1972: A Song for You
- 1973: Now & Then
- 1975: Horizon
- 1976: A Kind of Hush
- 1977: Passage
- 1978: Christmas Portrait
- 1981: Made in America
- Posthumous releases
Throughout the 1970s, Richard and Karen were nominated numerous times for Grammy Awards. Richard Carpenter was also nominated for a Grammy Award for their instrumental song, "Flat Baroque". They won three Grammy Awards, and had two songs inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
|Year||Type of Award||Won/Nominated||Title|
|1970||Best New Artist
Best Contemporary Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus Record of the Year Album of the Year Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals Song of the Year Best Contemporary Song Best Engineered Recording
Won Nominated Nominated Nominated Nominated Nominated Nominated
|1971||Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group
Album of the Year Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals Best Album of Original Score, Written for a Motion Picture Best Engineered Recording
Nominated Nominated Nominated Nominated
|1972||Best Instrumental Arrangement||Nominated|
|1973||Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Vocal
Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals
|1974||Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals||Nominated|
|1977||Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals||Nominated|