The Carpenter siblings, Richard and Karen, grew up in Connecticut in the 1950’s. Richard began playing the piano when he was very young and Karen picked up the drums in high school. In 1963 the family moved out west to Downey, California and they pursued a musical career. They signed a contract with RCA in 1966, and then with A&M Records in 1969.
Under the name the Carpenters, the siblings released their debut album “Offering” to a lukewarm reception. However, their follow-up album and title song “(They Long To Be) Close to You,” was a hit rising all the way to #1 on the US Charts in July 1970. Three months later, the siblings had a #2 hit with their version of “We’ve Only Just Begun,” and were scheduled for an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
On October 18 1970, The Ed Sullivan Show featured B. B. King and Tony Bennett as well as the Carpenters. Richard and Karen Carpenter took to a stage decorated with colorful images of flowers. They performed a medley of their hits “(They Long To Be) Close To You” and “We’ve Just Begun”. As always, Richard played the piano, Karen played the drums and serenaded the audience with her beautiful, melodic voice.
The Carpenters were back three weeks later for a special Sullivan show at The Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C. On November 8, 1970 the whole show was performed at the hospital for the recovering soldiers. The Carpenters played outdoors, doing a medley of Burt Bacharach hits including, “Close To You,” “Make it Easy on Yourself,” “(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me,” “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” “Walk on By” and “Do You Know The Way To San Jose.”
Following The Ed Sullivan Show, The Carpenters maintained a busy performance and television appearance schedule throughout the 1970’s. One of the most popular easy listening and adult contemporary groups of that decade, they were awarded 8 Gold albums, 5 Platinum, and 10 Gold singles in America. They were the #1 best-selling American group between 1970 and 1980, until Karen sadly passed away as a result of anorexia nervosa in 1983. The Carpenters will always remain in the hearts and minds of their dearest fans.