The Carpenters
Karen Carpenter - Richard Carpenter

Growing up as a young kid in the early-mid 70's, I was exposed to a lot of great music that I heard on Top 40 radio stations, and regular rock format stations. However, I never heard any music quite so smooth and melodic as the Carpenters music. To this day, I have never heard another vocalist quite like Karen Carpenter. I think she's the best singer I've ever heard, period. I can understand why Richard Carpenter decided not to work with other singers after her death, because there is no one in her league, and it would be such a big disappointment. I also feel that Richard Carpenter is one of the best producers/arrangers that I have ever heard for this style of music. His ability to take existing songs as well as new songs and orchestrate them into unique masterpieces has always amazed me. What true raw talent that man has. Having said that, it's very obvious why the Carpenters have been such a musical influence on me.

The Carpenters Horizon album, which was released in mid-1975, has had the biggest music influence on me (although, A Song For You has been a big influence, as well). Not only are the songs so impressive, but the performances of Karen, Richard, John Bettis, etc. were my favorites. In addition to that, I feel that this record is sonically the best sounding record in terms of production, engineering, recording quality that I've ever heard. It's the warmest, smoothest, fattest, sparkling record of all time, and I've heard so, so many to compare. It's amazing that this could be accomplished in 1975. Actually, at the time of the recording, the recording studios located on the A&M studio lot were upgraded to 24 track recording. The first record was recorded on only 8 tracks, and the other after that were 16 tracks. Now that there were 24 tracks available to record on, there was now room to record piano's and other instruments in true stereo. That certainly had a huge production effect in the outcome of the recording. I think the song Solitaire, the re-make of the great song written by Neil Sedaka, is the best song, performance, and recording on this album, and probably the best that Karen Carpenter, Richard Carpenter, and John Bettis had ever done. On June 17, 1975 the Carpenters Horizon record went Gold, meaning it had sold 500,000 units according to the RIAA certification. Years later it finally went Platinum (1,000,000 units) in 1998.

Of course, we all know the sad story about how Karen's health began to fail, and eventually passed away in February 1983. Every single time, and I mean every single time I hear a Carpenters song, I always think about what an absolute shame it is that we had her for such a short time. As you could imagine, music was a very important part of life for them, and the music played at Karen's funeral was no exception. I think it's an amazing tribute to her. Here's a program with the music that was chosen for this monumentally sad event. I think the music that you chose for a moment such as this is very self defining.

Karen Carpenter Funeral Program - Cover
Karen Carpenter Funeral Program
Karen Carpenter Funeral Program - Music

Having had a sister that battled Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia for quite some time, I almost know how Richard must have felt. Luckily for me, my sister survived her ordeal and is doing just great today. A couple of years after Karen's passing, my sister was admitted to the Glendale Seventh Day Adventist Hospital ward for Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia disorders. I remember visiting her and telling her how close she was to death. Karen was the first celebrity to shock the public with the reality Having also had a sister that battled with Anorexia Nervosa, I can almost say that I know of this disease, and it made my sister finally see that people can die from this. There is a silver lining in every cloud, and I think Karen's tragic death actually helped us save my sister. She was a big fan of Karen's too, and she didn't want to end up like that.

A few years after Karen died, I was on a tour of the A&M records lot in Hollywood with a UCLA music industry class taught by the infamous Tom Noonan, editor of charts for Billboard Magazine. Tom was around back into the 60's, and was involved with producing the weekly and monthly hit charts that were so important to artists, record labels, and radio stations. Tom knew everyone in the business very well. We entered the A&M studios and traveled down the hall to Studio C, I believe. We opened the door, and there stood Richard Carpenter setting up a recording session with a group of 8-10 string players for his first solo album. I said hello, and he briefly explained to us what he was doing. You could tell that he was trying to be nice, but was very into his project and wanted to get right back to it. You could see how intense he was, as well as the perfectionist in him coming out. We quickly went on our way, and that was it. I never had a chance to thank him for all the great music, but maybe some day I'll have the opportunity.

If we could only go back in time every once in a while.

The Carpenters Concert Ticket
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