We’ve Only Just Begun: The Story Of The Carpenters

In the late 1960s, Richard and Karen Carpenter formed the brother-and-sister duo the Carpenters. Richard arranged the music and played the keyboard while his younger sister Karen sang vocals and played the drums. Together, the Carpenters are still the top-selling and top-charting brother-sister group of all time. Signing their first record deal as a duo in 1969, they rocked hundreds of shows through the ’70s, topping the charts in the U.S. and internationally. But one of their lives would be cut tragically short, ending the duo in 1983.

Richard Was A Quiet Music Prodigy

GAB Archive/Redferns

When his parents saw Richard’s musical talent from a young age, they supported him and encouraged him to pursue arranging music and playing the piano as a career. In fact, Richard and Karen’s parents decided to move the family from the Northeast to Southern California. This was in part because their father Harold was offered a job, but also so that young Richard could have more opportunities in a music education and career.

Inspired by Perry Como and jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, he began taking piano lessons. Richard became frustrated with the structure of sitting down at a certain time and listening to the instructor, so he quit lessons and continued playing the piano on his own, teaching himself.

While Richard was inside playing the piano, his sister was often outside playing with the neighborhood kids.