Publication date: 2nd March 2023
Signed book plates by the author.
A pioneering biography re-evaluating the life and legacy of transcendent musician Karen Carpenter.
When the Carpenters first toured Japan, a journalist mistakenly referred to Karen as the 'lead sister' of the band. This designation stuck and Karen liked it so much that she had a T-shirt custom-made with the slogan, which she wore while drumming on the band's 1976 world tour. The term also sums up the approach of this biography: a celebratory re-evaluation of a pioneering woman.
As one of the biggest-selling acts of the 1970s, sibling duo Richard and Karen Carpenter created lush soundscapes of melodic pop, producing global hits like 'We've Only Just Begun', 'Top of the World' and 'Close to You'. However, though Karen is rightly recognised as one of the greatest singers in popular music, the tragedy of her early death in 1983, at the age of just thirty-two, often overshadows all that she achieved. She has long been portrayed as a victim, controlled by her family and exploited by the music industry.
This book now seeks to reframe her life and legacy.
Through fresh interviews with friends, musicians and co-workers, bestselling author Lucy O'Brien's fascinating profile explores Karen's contributions in the studio as a singer, drummer, arranger and producer, as well as tracing the roots of the Carpenters' sound and of Karen's distinctive vocals. Forty years after her death, it also honours the lead sister's achievements in the face of her struggle with anorexia, as viewed through the lens of new perspectives on eating disorders and mental health.
Yet, despite the chronic nature of her illness, Karen Carpenter was, above all, a creative, dedicated and assured artist whose music delivers an emotional resonance that has transcended generations - and that is how she should be remembered.