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In the case of Karen Carpenter, who with her brother, Richard, made up one of the most successful musical duos of all time, the quality of her singing is undisputed. On hit after hit after hit (Close To You, Rainy Days And Mondays, We've Only Just Begun, Superstar, For All We Know, etc.), Karen's velvety and vaguely haunting voice ruled the airwaves during the 1970s.
So it is then that we must consider her skills behind the drum kit, and the fact is, they were considerable. As a teenager, Karen was strongly influenced by Dave Brubeck Quartet drummer Joe Morello. With only a few years of experience under her belt, she taught herself the odd-time patterns of Brubeck's faves such as Take Five and It's A Raggy Waltz.
It is common knowledge that Wrecking Crew drummer Hal Blaine played on a number of recordings by the Carpenters. Even so, he was knocked out by Karen's talent with the sticks. "I always said that Karen was a good drummer," Blaine told Modern Drummer in 1983. "I knew she could play right away when she'd sit down at my drums on sessions. She played on a lot of the album cuts, and she played when they performed live, as well.
Sadly, Karen Carpenter died in 1983 at the age of 32 from a heart attack brought on by a seven-year battle with anorexia. Her music, of course, lives on.