Richard Carpenter was born in New Haven, Connecticut on October 15, 1946. His sister Karen Carpenter was born March 2, 1950. In 1963 their family moved to Downey near Los Angeles.
In 1965, Richard and Karen teamed with Wes Jacobs, a bass player who doubled on tuba, to form The Carpenter Trio, who played mostly instrumental jazz. Their first record was a vocal credited to Karen Carpenter issued by the small Magic Lamp label in 1966.
In 1969, the Carpenters signed as a duo to A&M Records and released the album “Offering”, which contained their innovative arrangement of the Beatles’ “Ticket To Ride”.
After touring with Burt Bacharach, they recorded “Close To You”, a song he had written with Hal David that had originally been on a Dionne Warwick album. Within six weeks of its release in 1970 it reached #1 and eventually sold three million copies. The song won a Grammy, as did the Carpenters as Best New Artist. From the “Close To You” album, a song written as a bank commercial “We’ve Only Just Begun” became their second million seller. “Merry Christmas Baby” was released at the holiday season and quickly became a standard.
The following year “For All We Know”, “Rainy Days And Mondays” and “Superstar” all became million selling singles. Their album “Carpenters” won the a Grammy that same year
Their 1972 hits included “Hurting Each Other” and “It’s Going To Take Some Time” and “Goodbye To Love”. In 1973 they were on the charts with “Sing”, “Yesterday Once More” and “Top Of The World”.
In 1975, the Carpenters’ version of “Please Mr. Postman” was another million seller and their biggest selling worldwide single. “Only Yesterday” was another hit that year and their album “Horizon” sold over a million copies.
Other Carpenter hits include “Kind Of A Hush” (1976), “All You Get From Love Is A Love Song”, “Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft” and “Sweet Sweet Smile” (all 1977). That same year their “Passages” lp earned a gold record. “Touch Me When We’re Dancing” became their final top ten hit in 1981.
The Carpenters are regarded as the biggest selling group of the 70s. Ten of their singles were million sellers and their combined worldwide sales are more than 100 million units.
The Carpenters are 2008 nominees at the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.