Credit: Shutterstock/Karen Carpenter

I’m determined to be contented

For many people, the Seventies would not have been the Seventies, without the music of brother and sister act The Carpenters.

With her distinctive three-octave singing voice, Karen Carpenter and her brother Richard, produced hit after hit with evocative songs including Rainy Days and Mondays, We’ve Only Just Begun and Close To You throughout the decade.

Karen was also the duo’s acclaimed drummer – learning percussion when she was at school. After a trio she formed with two school friends split up, she invited Richard to join the band., with another singer originally on vocals, while Karen drummed.

Impressing a producer with her own voice when they had their first session at a recording studio, after collaborations with other artists, the brother and sister ultimately signed their first record deal as a duo in 1969.

Karen had begun dieting while she was still a schoolgirl, with her weight control turning into an eating disorder that, by the mid 1970s, saw her weight plummet to six and a half stone. Initially she sought psychiatric treatment to overcome her issues. In 1982, she was admitted to hospital for treatment which helped her gain some weight. But her heart had undergone great strain and just a year later, she was found collapsed at home. She was rushed to hospital but died – her heart had given out.

Many musicians were inspired by her; from Madonna to Sonic Youth, while Paul McCartney said she had “the best female voice in the world.” She is still ranked among the greatest singers of all time – all you have to do is listen, to appreciate why.