Introduction      1) Nurtured By Music    2) Turning Point   3) Enter Karen, The Singer   4) Rising Stars  

5) Carpenters Join A&M   6) On The Charts   7) The Carpenters Legacy   8) At A Cost

9) Reaching The TV Special Pinnacle and Other Spectacular Achievements 

10) Last Performance, Continued Success



In January 1982, Karen moved to New York to spend most of the next 11 months seeing a therapist five times weekly for treatment of anorexia nervosa. She made a short trip to Los Angeles in April for a visit, during which time several rhythm tracks with work leads were recorded, including Now and You're Enough.

Karen returned to New York where, from late April through mid November, she spent more time in therapy and ultimately, the hospital, as the therapy was getting her nowhere and she had dropped to 80 pounds. It was in the hospital that, using a procedure known as hyper alimentation, her weight was increased by approximately 25 pounds. Although obviously heavier and appearing healthier than she had recently looked, Richard believed that things just weren't right; the weight had been put on artificially, Karen no longer possessed her boundless energy, and most importantly, he believed the life had gone out of her eyes. Feeling the worst was behind her, Karen returned to L.A. in November with plans to resume her life and career.

 In December 1982 she gave what would be her last performance at her godchildren’s school. (Given what was to transpire, it turned out that the Carpenters' last performance was December 3, 1978, a benefit performance at the Long Beach Pacific Terrace Theater, for the CSULB choir.)  Just weeks later, on February 4, 1983, she was found unconscious at her parents’ home in Downey where she had been visiting. Although she was rushed to the hospital, she was pronounced dead of a heart attack soon afterward – a side effect of her long battle with her illness.

Karen’s death did not mark the end of the Carpenters’ popularity, however. Later in 1983, a newly completed album comprised of outtakes from previous projects (with the exception of Now and You're Enough), entitled "Voice Of The Heart", enjoyed large sales, especially in Britain, where it climbed to No.6 on the chart with songs like Make Believe It’s Your First Time, Now, At The End Of A Song, Your Baby Doesn’t Love You Anymore and Ordinary Fool. The following year, a UK-only retrospective album, "Yesterday Once More", was a similar success. 1984 also saw the release of “An Old Fashioned Christmas”. Comprised of six tracks featuring Karen’s lead that did not make “Christmas Portrait” due to space limitations, the ballad version of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town from 1974, and instrumentals and some multi-harmony, a cappella vocal work by Richard, the album was completed at EMI and Abbey Road Studio A in London and mixed at A&M Studios in Hollywood. The “Yesterday Once More” album and video were released in America the following year. 1989 saw the release of “Lovelines”, an album that featured additional Carpenters outtakes, as well as two TV Special tracks by Karen and four tracks from Karen’s solo album. 

In Britain, 1990, a newly released 20-track greatest hits compilation, "Only Yesterday", spent nine weeks in the No. 1 spot and became the second-biggest selling album of the year.

In 1994, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Karen’s and Richard’s signing with A&M, two albums were released by the label; “Interpretations” by Karen and Richard, and a tribute album by various alternative artists, including Sonic Youth and Sheryl Crow, interpreting 14 Carpenters songs entitled, “If I Were A Carpenter”. In March 2005 the UK edition of their latest greatest hits offering, a 20-track CD and a 15-track DVD, had reached No.4 in two weeks time.

In Japan, where the duo had enjoyed resounding success since the 1971 release of Superstar and where 1973’s Yesterday Once More and album “Now & Then” had become phenomena, 1995 and the following year were to become years of unparalleled success for Karen and Richard.

Influential TV screenwriter writer Shinji Nojima had chosen I Need To Be In Love and Top Of The World to be the title songs in his 13-part TBS series Miseinen.

Other Carpenters tracks, including Desperado and For All We Know were featured in the body of the work. Miseinen, loosely translated as ‘Minors’, concerned and was targeted at the 13 to 21 year-old demographic, a group who heretofore may have only known the name “Carpenters” from their parents.

The series and the music proved to be a success beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, resulting in a newly released CD single of Top Of The World and I Need To Be In Love going quadruple platinum and elevating the latter to the popular and mythical status of Yesterday Once More and Top Of The World. An album, “Twenty-Two Hits of the Carpenters” compiled by Richard for release around the series, catapulted to No.1 and went on to become the largest selling album by a foreign artist in Japanese history – as another generation responded to the truly timeless appeal of two people who had quietly changed the world of popular music forever. 

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Last Updated June 4, 2008
May 2004  © Richard Carpenter

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