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Super Seventies RockSite! presents

 Richard Carpenter - In His Own Words

Blacklight Bar

With sister Karen, Richard Carpenter fashioned some of the loveliest pop records of the Seventies. He talks about those days with sadness and joy.

Richard Carpenterhe Carpenters were criticized a lot, and we took it, but every now and then I would open my big mouth to someone during an interview.

I didn't feel the criticism was deserved. The thing is, it had to do with what we represented, middle America and all. We weren't trying to stamp down rock. I like rock. We just made the records we wanted to make, and it so happened that radio was ready for it and it clicked.

The Carpenters' Seventies
Billboard Top 40 Singles

"Close To You"  6/70  #1
"We've Only Just Begun"  10/70  #2
"For All We Know"  2/71  #3
"Rainy Days And Mondays"  5/71  #2
"Superstar"  9/71  #2
"Hurting Each Other"  1/72  #2
"It's Going To Take Some Time"  5/72  #12
"Goodbye To Love"  7/72  #7
"Sing"  3/73  #3
"Yesterday Once More"  6/73  #2
"Top Of The World"  10/73  #1
"I Won't Last A Day Without You"  4/74  #11
"Please Mr. Postman"  12/74  #1
"Only Yesterday"  4/75  #4
"Solitaire"  8/75  #17
"There's A Kind Of Hush"  3/76  #12
"I Need To Be In Love"  7/76  #25
"All You Get From Love Is A Love Song"  6/77  #35
"Calling Occupants"  11/77  #32

But they would throw these barbs at us, clawing at us. I'm not saying everyone should like it, but no one can ever tell me those records weren't well made.

One reviewer, I'll never forget, was writing about our album Now and Then, which ended with a Randy Edelman tune called "I Can't Make Music." And this guy writes: "The album finishes with a tune called 'I Can't Make Music,' to which, regarding the Carpenters, I can only add, 'Right on.'"

And I'm thinking, "Wait a minute! You may not like the style of our music, but don't tell me we can't make music."

Karen and I were meant to work together. Her singing and the way our voices blended and the fact that I could write and arrange was meant to be. And the songs are there to prove it.

But Karen and I both pooped out in 1975. It had been nonstop everything -- world tours, recording, guest shots, photo sessions, interviews. It was also right around that time that Karen's anorexia started to manifest itself.

It really hit her in Vegas during the summer of '75. She had to go into the hospital. That girl could walk out on a stage and sing like she had never sung before. We all marveled because she was down to eight-five pounds at the time. In between shows, she'd be flat on her back. But when she walked out onstage she was fabulous.

I still have no idea what caused her anorexia. The disorder is a mystery. Personally, I don't believe her career had anything to do with it. Karen loved singing and recording more than anything in the world.

Richard Carpenter

"We weren't trying to stamp down rock. I like rock. We just made the records we wanted to make, and it so happened that radio was ready for it and it clicked."

In '75, we had to postpone two international tours. The whole rest of the year we did nothing. Then we started back up again in January of '76. We were hoping her situation was temporary, but it was up and down.

Then the singles stopped happening. Without a doubt, I picked a couple of duds. We felt frustrated. We were still selling a lot of records, the company, A&M, was still behind us, and we had the two of us. We always felt that the next one would be it, which is every recording artist's cry. So we kept on.

The Carpenters' Seventies
Billboard Top 10 Albums

Close To You  11/70  #4
Carpenters  6/71  #4
A Song For You  8/72  #4
The Singles 1969-73  12/73  #2
Now & Then  7/73  #4

And Karen was still battling with her problem. She didn't want to admit it. I remember quite a few talks with her. I said, "I'm going to kick back. Why don't you take this opportunity to seek some help, while I'm just relaxing and recharging and getting ready to start a new decade? We'll come back and start over in the Eighties."

Carpenters Lyrics
Carpenters Videos

But still, she did not want to recognize, or could not recognize, that she had a problem.

By 1980 I was all set and ready to go. Karen's solo album was ready to be mixed. Then she got married and started getting thinner again. Then the marriage didn't work out. By the time we came back from our promotional tour for Made in America, she realized she needed some help. She came back for a couple of weeks in '82, and we cut a few tracks, but that was it.

Karen was unique. I really think we were unique, I really do. We made good records, the songs were great, and Karen was a fabulous singer. The public knew. Maybe they couldn't articulate it, but they knew. 

 Reader's Comments

karinn zimmerman

Dear Richard, the memories these songs bring thank you for the joy and at 54 your songs still give that joy. I cannot believe so many songs made it to #2. I was pretty young but these were #1 songs not #2 or 3 but Richard thank you and God bless you and your family.

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