About 50 years ago, Richard and his sister Karen were better known by the name carpenters, they were on top of the world – touring tirelessly, recording and promoting an explosion of pop classics including “(They Long To Be) Close To You”, “We’re Just Getting Started” and “Superstar”.
Half a century later, Richard’s work ethic has clearly not changed. From January to May this year, Carpenter spent countless hours editing and rewriting the just-published resume The Carpenters: The Musical Heritage (Princeton Architectural Press) with its co-authors, Associated Press reporter Mike Sidonie Lennox, and musicologist and expert carpenters Chris May.
Richard allowed another autobiography of the Carpenters to be released in 1994. But the writer provided what Richard called, the “book of anorexia” – in which, for the most part, the story of the Carpenters’ Music is not told.
After that, Richard had other offers to tell the duo’s story, but he wasn’t intrigued until Sidonie and Mae came along in the summer of 2018, and the two indicated they had enough of media features, documentaries, and books focusing on Karen’s eating disorder (anorexia nervosa) and complications that led to her death in 1983 at the age of 32.
After the writers promised to re-light the duo’s careers, specifically their recordings, “I agreed to take part in the project and got engaged,” Richard wrote in the book’s preface.
Carpenter provided nearly 100 hours of interviews and gave the authors access to his rarely visited archive of thousands of artefacts from the carpenters, including family photos, excerpts from album cover footage, legends from master tapes, and handwritten itineraries. Although immaculately organized, most items remain untouched for decades and never published.
While the writers committed to keeping the book’s narrative strict, they insisted that Carpenter address the duo’s personal demons—particularly his addiction to sleeping pills and an eating disorder—when they influenced the recordings.
Carpenter lives up to the agreement, then some. In fact, after reviewing the first draft of the book, Richard was adamant about including more personal details.
“I didn’t want this to be another one of those authoritative bios where this famous person never admits to making a single mistake,” Richard explains during a book press release in September. “Nobody even believes it. Nobody is perfect. We weren’t perfect.”
It weighs about four pounds, contains 344 pages and about 300 photos at first glance The Carpenters: The Musical Heritage It just looks like a coffee table book of beautiful pictures. But it’s really kind of a mutt: part autobiography, part memoir, and part reference guide. The book also includes a painstaking research recording, along with articles written by (and interviews with) key fellow Carpenters.
“For those who are just discovering carpenters or those who have been with us since the beginning and want to know every little thing about our careers, this is the ultimate volume,” Richard says.
In late spring, Carpenter was finalizing the book as he began preparations for his third solo album. By June, he was recording The piano songbook of Richard Carpenter, a compilation of piano solo versions of the carpenters’ greatest hits and fan favorites. Already available in Japan, it set to release Worldwide by Decca on January 14th.
Richard’s summer also included a trip to Henson Studios in Hollywood, to shoot promotional videos piano song book. This was the first time Carpenter had performed on the site of the former in nearly 30 years A&M records Lots, as he and Karen recorded all of their songs.
Richard recalls that returning to the former carpenters’ home away from home was “extremely emotional”.
The barrage of media interviews that linked the book and album began in late August and will continue throughout the year, but on October 27, Richard got a night to attend a private party at the Wallis Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, where he was named “Steinway Artist”, in celebration of his professional engagement The long run with 160-year-old instrument maker Steinway & Sons.
Richard has performed on Steinway’s grand piano on all but one of the Carpenters’ albums, as well as on new albums piano song book album. He also has two Steinways in his home in suburban Los Angeles.
At the age of 75, Richard Carpenter doesn’t seem close to retirement. On the horizon for 2022, there is a retooling of two carpenters Christmas albums All in one disc enhanced musically and acoustically. And he is already talking about compositions for a second set of piano, should the first set be successful.
But he’s also enjoying the moment: appreciating the writers who finally got the Carpenters story right, responding to messages from the bright new swarm of young fans who have joined the millions who have cuddled the duo over the past 50 years, and are glad – if not surprised – that the recordings they made Out with Karen has become a permanent part of the fabric of world pop music.
Did Richard expect all of this – the book, the new album, the continued love of Carpenters – to happen at the age of 75?
He answers: “Never.” “It’s mind-boggling and exciting.”
The Carpenters: The Musical Heritage out now.
Enter for a chance to win a copy of the Carpenters’ first officially certified resume, signed by Richard Carpenter, Mike Cidoni Lennox, and Chris May.
Adsgeni code is : 748912