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March 2, 2021

Amazing Photographs of Karen Carpenter Playing Drums and Singing

Karen Carpenter (March 2, 1950 – February 4, 1983) was an American singer and drummer who, along with her elder brother Richard, was part of the duo the Carpenters. For those who aren’t aware of Karen’s involvement with the drums, let it be known that they were her first passion and came before she began her career as a singer. Karen’s drumming can be heard on many tracks on several Carpenters albums.

What’s also most notable about Karen is that she sang and drummed simultaneously... her singing never hindered her drumming, and vice versa... she never ever hit a sour note or missed a beat. An extremely small amount of people can profess to having such a talent.

Karen began to study the drums in high school and joined the Long Beach State choir after graduating. After several years of touring and recording, Carpenters were signed to A&M Records in 1969, achieving commercial and critical success throughout the 1970s. Initially, Carpenter was the band’s full-time drummer, but gradually took the role of frontwoman as drumming was reduced to a handful of live showcases or tracks on albums.

Karen started out as both the group’s drummer and co-lead singer, and she originally sang all of her vocals from behind the drum set. She sang most of the songs on the band’s first album, Offering (later retitled Ticket to Ride). As well as drumming, Karen played bass guitar on two songs, “All of My Life” and “Eve”.

Because she was just 5 feet 4 inches (1.63 m) tall, it was difficult for people in the audience to see Karen behind her kit. After reviews complained that the group had no focal point in live shows, Richard and manager Sherwin Bash persuaded her to stand at the microphone to sing the band’s hits while another musician played the drums. She initially struggled in live performances singing solo, as she felt more secure behind the drum kit. After the release of Now & Then in 1973, the albums tended to have Carpenter singing more and drumming less, and she did become the focal point of all records and live performances; Bash said “she was the one that people watched.”

Starting with the Carpenters’ 1976 concert tour and continuing thereafter, she would perform a showcase in which she moved around the stage playing various configurations of drums.


  1. She was amazingly talented at all aspects of song craft. Her drumming was technically excellent and sublimely tasteful, as was her phrasing. And she possessed one of the greatest voices in pop music.

  2. Karen's singing voice was one of the mainstays of 70s pop radio. Her voice has the same tone as Anne Murray, another great.




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