Karen Carpenter, a Diva on the Drum and The Mic

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Perhaps Karen Carpenters’ story is one of the most tragic stories you can read about. She was an American singer and drummer who was a member of the legendary duo, the Carpenters with her brother Richard. Even though she was particularly known for her contralto vocals, she did fantastic work behind the throne.

Karen Carpenter On Stage
Karen Carpenter On Stage

Karen Carpenter was born on March 2, 1950, in New Haven, Connect to Agness Reuwer and Harold Bertram. Her elder and only brother, Richard the Carpenter got interested in music when he was only three, and pushed himself to learn piano. He was already a piano prodigy at such an early age.

Karen was motivated by Richard to join him on the music journey, and she was more than willing to join him. She started practicing her vocals and drums early, too, and her interest grew with each practice.

When she was ready to take over the world, she was nervous about performing in public. It always seemed to frighten her, but she overcame it because she was so deep in “in the music to worry about anything.” She joined her first band with Two Plus Two, an all-girl trio with her high school friends.

Karen Carpenter Drumming
Karen Carpenter Drumming

She later suggested that her brother Richard join, which did not go with other members, breaking up the group. Richard formed the Richard Carpenter Trio with his college buddy Wes Jacobs and was later signed by A & M records as the Carpenters in 1969.

Karen held the group together with her skills. She was only a good drummer but an influential company to the rest of the group too. She never stopped coming up with ideas that would take the team to greater levels. And when she was behind the throne, everyone expected something new to come out. Her drumming speed was highly appreciated across the industry.

And the What?

Karen has been on a diet since high school. Her doctor advised that she begin the Stillman diet that involved eating lean foods and drinking eight water glasses every day.

She was to avoid fatty foods because they were not good for her health. This helped a lot because she reduced her weight to 120 pounds until 1973. At this time, her career had peaked. In the same year, she saw a concert photo that made her look ‘heavy,’ which did not go very well with her.

She hired a personal trainer and changed her diet so that she could appear heavier and not slimmer. She just wanted to build some muscles, and she started a weight loss schedule by counting calories. This helped her lose 20 pounds and hoped to go further.

Karen Carpenter Performing
Karen Carpenter Performing

She started avoiding food by offering it to others, which caused her fans to worry about her. But she refused to accept that she was ill. She started using thyroid medication in the 1980s, which led to further deterioration of her health and was forced to be placed on an intravenous drip.

She would see her brother for the last time on February 1, 1983, and collapsed in her bedroom on the 4th.  Despite her life, she remains one of the greatest female drummers of all time.

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