I REMEMBER…Richard Carpenter
Reader's Digest UK|February 2022
As the Carpenters, Richard Carpenter and his sister Karen were one of the most successful pop duos of all time. Now 75, he looks back on their career, celebrity fans and the devastating loss of his sibling
Simon Button
GROWING UP IN CONNECTICUT, I would listen to all the 78s my parents bought for me to play on my Bing Crosby Junior Juke record player. It looked like a miniature version of the old Wurlitzer jukeboxes and I especially remember playing Spike Jones and The City Slickers over and over. They were vinyl 78s rather than the usual shellac, although my dad had a huge library of the latter.

DAD OPERATED A FIVE-COLOUR PRINTING PRESS. It was so big that you had to climb up to get to its second storey. And Mum was a homemaker. They were great parents. They were honest as the day is long, they were hard workers and generous to a fault. I inherited my love of music from Dad and his record collection, and Mum had a nice alto voice and would sing along to the radio in the kitchen.

I WAS FOUR WHEN MY SISTER KAREN CAME ALONG and I wasn’t too happy about it at first. I guess I’d gotten used to my little existence in my cocoon, then along comes this new baby to disrupt things. But as we grew older Karen and I became fast friends and we enjoyed all the same things—the same music, the same type of comedy, everything. We got along wonderfully.

I STARTED PLAYING PIANO AT A YOUNG AGE, studying technique and the classics with one teacher and learning to read chords and arranging them with another teacher. By the time I was 16 I was quite proficient and could play by ear so if someone asked me to play, say, “My Melancholy Baby” I could. I looked and played a little beyond my years—I had glasses and my hair was slicked back—and I taught piano as well as earning extra dough by playing dives at weekends with a couple of older friends.

WHEN I STARTED WRITING MY OWN SONGS I’d ask Karen, who was already a gifted drummer, to sing them and at first she sang in an upper register, like a falsetto. It was in-tune but there was nothing special about it. Then when she was around 15 the lower voice—the voice— started to show itself. By the time she was 17 it was fully there and had she had a recording contract, a producer and the right song she’d have had a hit record right then.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM READER'S DIGEST UKView All

Saving the Stradivarius Sound

An entire city went quiet so the world's most iconic violin could be immortalised

7 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
May 2022

Let's Talk About Pain

What's phantom pain? How does chronic pain work? What determines our individual pain tolerance? Richard Holt sets out to find the answers

6 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
May 2022

Why Is Everyone Talking about NFTs?

James O’Malley breaks down the hot topic of non-fungible tokens

4 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
May 2022

My Britain: Chester

Close to the English/ Welsh border, the walled cathedral city of Chester was founded as a Roman fort back in 79 AD.

3 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
April 2022

State Of The Art: Ilhwa Kim

South Korean visual artist Ilhwa Kim on her practice and inspirations

2 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
May 2022

POWER TO THE PEOPLE (PLUS PINTS AND PORK PIES)

Redoubtable, reliable and resistant to radical change; there are few things in the typical English village more valued by residents than the shop and the pub

7 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
May 2022

If I Ruled The World Grace Dent

Grace Dent is a restaurant critic, broadcaster, author, and Masterchef UK regular. She has appeared on Very British Problems and is the host of the critically acclaimed podcast, Comfort Eating

3 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
May 2022

The Last Frontier

Adventure awaits visitors to Big Bend National Park, located in one of America's wildest, most forbidding places

8 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
May 2022

Meet The “Unretired

Millions of seniors are heading back to work-and leading happier, healthier lives because of it

8 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
May 2022

I REMEMBER... Leo Sayer

Leo Sayer first came to fame in the Seventies and this year he's celebrating five decades in the business. He tells us about being managed by Adam Faith, meeting The Beatles and why he moved to Australia

7 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
May 2022
RELATED STORIES

Freshly Picked

There's nothing sweeter than a summer day spent gathering raspberries with a loved one.

3 mins read
Country Woman
June/July 2022

PROBLEM SOLVED Achy Breaky Neck?

Tips on taming the ouch

2 mins read
Prevention
May 2022

MAKING MISCHIEF

At her rural Pennsylvania getaway, designer Ghislaine Viñas has created the ultimate fun house.

3 mins read
Elle Decor
April 2022

Monumental Milestones

Manchester International Airport revamps with a new terminal and sustainable fuel.

2 mins read
Global Traveler
December 2021

Nexvoo Health Ergonomic Desk Chair

A chair that monitors your health? That’s what Nexvoo aims to do

1 min read
Mac Life
October 2021

Sanctuary HOME

A California native shares her tips for making your home a heaven on earth.

3 mins read
Cottages and Bungalows
October -November 2021

The Hammock

A sign of God’s protection right when she needed it

3 mins read
Guideposts
April 2021

IN ‘HAPPILY,' 10 MILLENNIALS WALK INTO AN AIRBNB....

Their friends are annoyed — and not just because the bathroom is tied up. They’re annoyed because this honeymoon phase has lasted 14 years and shows no sign of abating.

3 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #491

The REST Story

Despite a high-pressure job producing films, Tracee Stanley had everything under control. Prioritizing her own wellbeing made her more effective and efficient at work—which gave her time and space to prioritize her own wellbeing.

9 mins read
Spirituality & Health
Mar/Apr 2021

Marie's Proof of Love

People believe, Marie thinks, even when there’s no proof. You believe because you imagine. But is imagination enough to live by?

10+ mins read
World Literature Today
Winter 2021