Singer, Drummer. Best remembered for her singing partnership with her brother, Richard, as "The Carpenters." Born in New Haven, Connecticut, she moved with her family to Downey, California in 1963. Her older brother, Richard, put together an instrumental trio, with Richard playing the piano, Karen on the drums, and friend Wes Jacobs on the bass and tuba. In 1966, their group won first place in the Hollywood Bowl Battle of the Bands, and landed a recording contract with RCA Records. After two albums, which were never released, Karen and Richard formed another band, and in 1970, they made several demo tapes which landed them a contract with A&M Records (founded by Herb Alpert & Jerry Moss). Their first real hit was a reworked version of the Beatles hit "Ticket to Ride," followed by a reworked version of Burt Bacharach's "Close to You," which soon sold a million copies. They became one of the most successful groups in the early 1970s, won three Grammy Awards, and starred in their own TV variety series, "Make Your Own Kind of Music." Karen however, suffered from a relatively unknown illness, Anorexia Nervosa, which is characterized by obsessive dieting to the point of starvation. Her illness surfaced in 1975, when they were forced to cancel a European tour, when she was too weak to perform. Although she received treatment for the disease, she never fully recovered, and it was discovered later that the disease had returned. In the 1980s, she and her brother were back making records, but in 1982 she collapsed after a recording, and spent most of the year undergoing treatment. Although her marriage fell apart, she appeared as if she was beginning to take control of her life again, and on February 4, 1983, she went to her parent's house to sort through some of her old clothes. She collapsed there from cardiac arrest, and was pronounced dead by responding doctors. Doctors later revealed that her long battle with Anorexia Nervosa had stressed her heart to the failure point. Originally interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Cypress, California, the remains of Karen and her parents were moved to a new location, the Carpenter family mausoleum at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village, California around 2003.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson
"A Star On Earth - A Star In Heaven"