Richard Carpenter (1946) musician
Although his sister Karen was the better known of the two, Richard Carpenter was the other half of the brother-sister duo the Carpenters. He composed, played piano, and sang backup vocals along with his sister, who drummed, sang lead vocals and was the real star of the duo.
Richard was born on October 15, 1946 in the American town New Haven (Connecticut) and began studying classical piano at age nine. While attending Yale, he continued his classical lessons. Richard played piano with a cocktail jazz trio in a handful of local Connecticut nightclubs. The family moved to California in 1963, where Richard carried on at the University of Southern California and Long Beach's California State College.
Aged 19, he formed a group with his sister and a third member, Wes Jacobs on tuba and bass. With Jacobs and Richard forming her backup band, Karen was signed to the local Californian record label Magic Lamp, who released two unsuccessful singles. The trio won a Battle of the Bands contest at the Hollywood Bowl in '66, which led to a record contract with RCA. Signing under the name of Richard Carpenter Trio, the group cut four songs that were never released. It was followed shortly by a six-piece, Spectrum, that also failed to register.
But Richard and Karen were signed to A&M in 1969 and their fortunes changed with their second single as a duo: a version of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's (They Long to Be) Close to You. Taken from the album Close to You, the single became the group's first number one, spending four weeks on the top of the American charts and also becoming an international hit, beginning a five-year period where the duo was one of the most popular recording acts in the world.
They enjoyed tremendous commercial success with a series of soft-rock ballads, many of them (co-)written by Richard. During that period the Carpenters won two Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist of 1970, and had an impressive string of hits, including Rainy Days and Mondays, Superstar, Hurting Each Other, Goodbye to Love, Yesterday Once More and Top of the World.
After 1975 the duo's popularity began to decline. They were plagued by personal problems. Richard had become addicted to prescription drugs. In 1978, he entered a recovery clinic, kicking his habit. Karen, suffering from anorexia nervosa, died in 1983. After her death, Richard Carpenter concentrated on production work and assembling various compilations of the Carpenters' recorded work. In 1987, he released a solo album called Time, which featured guest appearances by Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick. Richard himself made a guest appearance on Joe Raposo's Sing: Songs of Joe Raposo in 1992.