Before singer Karen Carpenter’s death in the early 1980s, the Carpenters were one of the biggest groups in popular music. Even today, the popular music duo’s work continues to sell almost as well as the works of such timeless artists as Elvis and the Beatles. Despite the ubiquity of the group’s most famous songs, there is still quite a bit that most people don’t know about the brother and sister duo that made up the two members of the band. Join Facts Verse as we explore weird details we learned about the Carpenters after 50 years.
The Carpenters were a folk vocal duo comprised of brother and sister Richard and Karen Carpenter. The group rose to fame in the 1970s, but their upward trajectory sadly cut short due to Karen’s death at a young age. Over the course of their career, the Carpenters had several singles that placed in the Billboard Top 10, including three No. 1 hits. Today, their music still lives on. In this video, we’ll be taking a look at some interesting trivia about the Carpenters’ two members that may come as a surprise to fans!
The Carpenters Received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Shortly After Karen Carpenter’s Death
The Carpenters became legitimate superstars during their day, though they weren’t recognized on the Hollywood Walk of Fame until after Karen’s untimely death. The band given a star in October of 1983, which only a couple of months after Karen Carpenter had passed away.
Paul McCartney Was a Huge Fan of the Carpenters
The Carpenters famously broke onto the scene by covering one of the Beatles’ hit singles. That single was “Ticket to Ride”, which started off the Carpenters’ successful career. The four members of the Beatles were infamous for being critical of many of their peers, so one might assume that they didn’t have kind words for the Carpenters using their song. However, Paul McCartney himself expressed praise for the band’s take on the single, stating that vocalist Karen Carpenter had one of the most angelic voices he’d heard.
Karen Carpenter Suffered from Anorexia
In 1983, Karen Carpenter died at the tragically young age of only 32. The actress had suffered from image issues throughout the majority of her life which caused her to develop the eating disorder known as anorexia. This is where a person essentially starves himself or herself in order to lose weight, which Karen did for many years.
Technically, Karen’s cause of death was due to an overdose of syrup of ipecac, which caused the singer to experience heart failure. Ipecac is a drug that is known to induce vomiting, suggesting that Karen also suffering from bulimia in her final days. As compared to anorexia, bulimia is an eating disorder where those suffering force themselves to purge in order to lose weight.
The Carpenters Liked to Use Local Children’s Choirs During Their Live Performances
Whenever it came time for the Carpenters to perform their hit single “Sing” during their live performances, they liked to go out of their way to hire a children’s choir from the area where they were performing to come up on stage with them and help sing the song. This helped make the band a hit with both kids and various communities who appreciated the spirit of camaraderie that the brother and sister exuded.
The Carpenters Were Very Charitable
Utilizing local children’s choirs for their musical performances certainly wasn’t the only thing that the Carpenters did to give back to various communities during the height of their fame. They also contributed to various charitable causes, which included raising funds for an organization known as the Middlesex County Cancer Society. The band did so by starting their very own celebrity softball team in 1973, which included Karen Carpenter as the pitcher. The incredibly multi-talented Karen proved to be just as good of a pitcher as she was a musician.
The Carpenters’ Work Still Sells Well
Over the years, the Carpenters have stood alongside such musical acts as Elvis Presley and the Beatles by remaining consistently popular into modern times. While most artists from the past don’t sell quite as well today despite their music being llpllllremaining ubiquitously featured on oldies radio, the Carpenters are still selling music as if they were brand new artists! This is despite the fact that Karen has been dead for almost four decades.
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Richard Carpenter Was a Musical Performer at Disneyland Before Starting the Carpenters with Karen
We’ve talked plenty about Karen Carpenter, but what about the other half of the Carpenters? Karen’s one and only bandmate in the Carpenters was her brother, Richard. Before the two started the Carpenters together, Richard was part of another duo. This duo consisted of him and a musician by the name of John Bettis, who performed together at Disneyland in California. They eventually fired for playing songs that didn’t fit with the Disney brand. As the duo didn’t mind taking random requests from the audience.
The Carpenters Were Savvy Investors
The Carpenters both became very rich as a result of her fame, though Karen didn’t live long enough to get the most out of her money. While other musical stars at the time oftentimes went bankrupt from spending more than they had, the Carpenters chose to invest the money they made from their music. This ensured that they never went broke, and Richard Carpenter is still doing very well for himself today! Some of the many things that the Carpenters invested their spoils in included apartment buildings and shopping centers.
Karen Carpenter’s Ghost Said to Haunt the Jim Henson Company’s Complex in California
In the years since Karen’s death, many workers at the Jim Henson Company in California have claimed to see her ghost haunting the halls of one of the company’s buildings. This may sound odd, but it makes more sense when you realize that said building used to belong to A&M Records, which the record label that the Carpenters signed to during the height of their fame. One of the founders of A&M Records was popular musician Herb Alpert.
The Carpenters Discovered Thanks to a Television Appearance
After his days at Disneyland, Richard Carpenter started a trio that included his sister, Karen. The other member of the trio Wes Jacobs, though he would eventually move on to other projects after the group was renamed from the Richard Carpenter Trio to the Carpenters. Wes was performing with Richard and Karen when they made their first big appearance on television, performing on a series called Your All-American College Show. During their performance, the trio played a cover of the song “Dancing in the Street”. The performance launched Richard and Karen’s careers.
Karen Carpenter Could Do More Than Just Sing
Not only did Karen Carpenter have a voice that Paul McCartney claimed to be one of the most angelic that he had ever heard, but the musical artist was also an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist. Arguably, the instrument that Karen was the best at was the drums. Her drumming technically superb. And could be heard on some of the Carpenters’ songs. She could also play the electric bass.
Richard Carpenter Married His Cousin
Richard Carpenter is still around today, and still likes to keep his business in the family. The singer is married, and likes to have his kids perform with him as new iterations of the Carpenters. Richard’s wife is a woman by the name of Mary Rudolph, who just so happens to be the singer’s first cousin… but only by adoption! The two have had four daughters and one son over the course of their marriage.
Karen Carpenter Began Suffering from Issues with Her Appearance in High School
The anorexia that eventually killed Karen Carpenter started rearing it’s head while she was still in high school. Although the singer was always traditionally beautiful, she never felt that way. She followed a strict diet in high school that gave her the skinny figure she had when she rose to prominence. Although this diet wasn’t as extreme as the later diet that killed her, it was still unusual to see a young woman so preoccupied with controlling her weight. Part of the reason that Karen was so insecure was abuse from her mother.
Karen’s Mother Was Not a Karen Carpenter Fan
Karen and Richard’s mother was a woman by the name of Agnes Carpenter. Though Agnes loved Richard and appreciated every small thing that the man did, Karen could never do anything good enough to receive any positive recognition from her mother. Instead, Agnes tormented her daughter throughout her entire life, and arguably played a big part in causing the self-esteem issues that plagued her until her tragic death at a young age from anorexia.
Richard Suffered from Addiction to Pills
While Richard wasn’t anorexic, he did have some personal troubles of his own. The singer became addicted to prescription medications during the 1970s. By the end of the decade, the habit had become so prominent that Richard was forced to take a break from performing to rehabilitate. This caused much of the public to assume that Richard and Karen had gotten into a fight, and that the Carpenters had broken up. Thankfully, Richard overcame his problems!
Although Karen Carpenter has been deceased for nearly four decades, the Carpenters remain one of the most celebrated artists in popular music history! Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Karen Carpenter was an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist that could play the drums just as well as any man, and did you know that she suffered from anorexia for nearly her entire adult life? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!