October 15: Richard Carpenter of The Carpenters is 65-years-old today.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Richard Lynn Carpenter is best known as one half of the brother & sister duo The Carpenters, along with his sister Karen Carpenter. Richard also composed some of their songs, sang backup and played keyboards. When they were kids, Richard frequently played the piano while his sister, Karen, played baseball outside.

When Richard was 16, the Carpenter family moved from New Haven to Downey, California. Richard studied music at the California State University at Long Beach where he met Frank Pooler, a conductor and composer. Pooler wrote the lyrics to the Christmas classic "Merry Christmas Darling" in 1968. Richard also met John Bettis, who co-wrote songs with Richard.

In 1965, the Richard Carpenter Trio consisted of Richard, Karen on drums and friend Wes Jacobs on tuba and bass. In 1966, the Richard Carpenter Trio played "Iced Tea" and "The Girl from Ipanema" at the Hollywood Bowl Battle of the Bands. They won the competition, and shortly after recorded three songs at RCA Studios: "Every Little Thing," "Strangers in the Night," and the Carpenter original, "Iced Tea." "Iced Tea" is the only recording that was officially released to the public.

In 1967, Richard and Karen joined four other student musicians from Long Beach State to form a sextet named Spectrum. the group's complicated harmonies and shunning of traditional rock 'n roll limited the band's popularity.

Richard and Karen signed with A&M Records in 1969 under the direction of Herb Alpert. Alpert suggested that the Carpenters record a Burt Bacharach song called "(They Long to Be) Close to You." Richard's arranging and musical talents, as well as Karen's vocals, helped the song go to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stay there for a month.

One evening while watching TV, Richard saw a commercial for Crocker National Bank featuring a snippet of a Paul Williams song "We've Only Just Begun." Richard turned a bank commercial jingle into an RIAA certified Gold Record. It peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and has become a common wedding song.

Richard composed many of the Carpenters' hits, such as "Goodbye to Love," "Top of the World," "Yesterday Once More," and "Only Yesterday."


(Press album cover for direct link to the entire Amazon Website):

Pianist Arranger Composer Conductor

Karen died on February 4, 1983. It took Richard four years to release a solo album called Time. It featured Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick.

In 1996, Carpenter released Richard Carpenter: Pianist, Arranger, Composer, Conductor, which included reworkings of many Carpenters favorites, including hits and album tracks, and ends with "Karen's Theme", which Carpenter composed for the 1989 movie, "The Karen Carpenter Story."