Karen Anne Carpenter (March 2, 1950 – February 4, 1983) was an American singer and drummer who, along with her older brother Richard, was part of the duo the Carpenters.
She was praised for her contralto vocals, and her drumming abilities were viewed positively by other musicians and critics.
Her struggles with eating disorders would later raise awareness of anorexia and body dysmorphia.
Carpenter was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and moved to Downey, California, in 1963 with her family.
She began to study the drums in high school and joined the Long Beach State choir after graduating.
After several years of touring and recording, the 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.
While the Carpenters were on hiatus in the late 1970s, she recorded a solo album, which was released years after her death.
Carpenter had the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, which was little-known at the time, and was briefly married in the early 1980s.
She died at age 32 from heart failure caused by complications related to her illness.
Her death led to increased visibility and awareness of eating disorders.
Her work continues to attract praise, including being listed among Rolling Stone's 100 greatest singers of all time.