Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: The Carpenters

There are some people who read this entry and its title and who would think, “The Carpenters aren’t rock & roll. Why would they belong in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?” As it happens, Nat King Cole and Neil Diamond and Miles Davis are already in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame too, and none of them were rock & roll either. So the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has already established by its inductees that it is not recognizing those who fit some (arbitrary) definition of Rock & Roll, but honoring the most significant and influential artists of the Rock & Roll era, from 1954 onward. And by that standard, The Carpenters certainly qualify on several grounds, specifically their influence on future artists and the popularity of contralto voices, the enduring value of their musical record and immense popularity, and their larger social significance.

The Carpenters’ Contribution

The Carpenters had an immense contribution to Rock & Roll. Richard Carpenter is one of the innovators of the power ballad, from the side of easy listening, providing more power to the balladry for which The Carpenters were justly famous at the same time that Aerosmith was seeking to provide balladry for their power with the song “Dream On” [1] and at the same time that soul singers like Ray Charles were exploring cathartic release for their slower songs. The Carpenters deserve praise for their role in the innovation of the power ballad, making the mainstream soft rock of the 1970’s and beyond possible. Beyond this, the enduring relevance of the music of the Carpenters, even to alternative bands like Sonic Youth or contemporary singers like Christina Aguilera, Madonna, and Gwen Stefani as well as allowing a greater role for contralto singers like Anne Murray and Rita Coolidge within pop music [2], showing the worth and value of the blend between Richard’s technical prowess as a musician and Karen’s powerful and emotive and melancholy but not histrionic vocals. In addition to this, the Carpenters had an immense role in bringing the issue of eating disorders like anorexia nervosa to the general public, given Karen Carpenter’s death in 1982 because of an anorexia-induced heart attack. For all of these reasons, the Carpenters have an enduring place in rock & roll history, and are deserving of a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Why The Carpenters Are A No-Brainer For The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

First, their larger social significance in public health and their share of the innovation of the power ballad (to provide the viable platform and market for soft rock to exist) are deserving of being enshrined alone–The Carpenters were easy listening pioneers and innovators (as odd as that might seem to critics). In addition to that, though, The Carpenters’ music is enduringly popular, with two of their songs having been given Grammy Awards as pivotal records in music history: “(They Long To Be) Close To You” and “We’ve Only Just Begun.” On top of this, the Carpenters have a solid record of successful albums and singles, including six multiplatinum albums, two additional platinum albums, and six additional gold albums–a solid body of work. In addition, the band had fifteen #1 hits on the Adult Contemporary charts, three #1’s, twelve top ten hits, and nineteen top 40 hits on the Hot 100 over a period of more than a decade [3]. They have immense influence on modern music, they had immense popularity, and were major innovators in music, aside from having a key role in bringing the issue of eating disorders to public attention. That sort of massive social and musical importance should mean a place in Cleveland for this band without question. Essential Carpenters songs include: “(They Long To Be) Close To You,” “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “For All We Know,” “Rainy Days & Mondays,” “Sing,” “Top Of The World,” and “Superstar.”

Why Aren’t The Carpenters In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?

Throughout their career, the Carpenters were savaged by the critics (one of the factors that led to Karen Carpenter’s early death over insecurity with her weight), and blamed for being bland artists. In fact, the Carpenters very intentionally chose a middle course between easy listening and rock & roll. The fact that music critics have been so hard on The Carpenters has led them to neglect the major virtues and influence of that band, though, and it’s pretty certain that critical hatred more than anything wrong with the Carpenters has kept them from their rightful honor in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Verdict: The Carpenters deserved to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame a long time ago. However, their entrance depends on critics recognizing their immense role in the creation of the power ballad and in the virtue of their middle-of-the-road approach in general. Recognizing the value of The Carpenters would be an important first step, along with recognizing Chicago [4] in reassessing the legacy of a lot of other adult-oriented bands who have been unjustly neglected by the rock & roll critical establishment for being popularly successful.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/giving-credit-where-credit-is-due-the-power-ballad/

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Carpenters

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Carpenters_discography

[4] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-chicago/

About nathanalbright

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46 Responses to Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: The Carpenters

  1. Pingback: Sudden Death | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. bob says:

    Yes. The Carpenters should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. All for it.

  3. Pingback: Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Sonny & Cher/Cher | Edge Induced Cohesion

  4. stevewaclo says:

    What can fans do to help get them in?

  5. Pingback: Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Sarah McLachlan | Edge Induced Cohesion

  6. Brian says:

    Yes, after all these years, why are the Carpenters not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Karen possessed immense talent and so did Richard. Together they created timeless music.

  7. Yes, why are the Carpenters not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Karen possessed immense talent, along with her brother Richard. Together they produced and recorded timeless music for the ages.

  8. Dorothy Thomas says:

    The Carpenters belong in the Rock and Roll HOF. Their songs are timeless, Karen’s voice was angelic, and Richard’s musical genious is unparalleled. Their Gold Records, Grammy’s and Oscar-nominated songs are proof of their musical contributions. The HOF has snubbed The Carpenters because they were “not rock and roll”. How can they justify some of their inductees? They have many music genres represented. It is time that The Carpenters are recognized for their contributions to the music industry.

    • I wholeheartedly agree. There are at least a few artists who are very worthy of induction who have not because their music has been viewed as being too Adult Contemporary and not enough rock & roll. Since Richard Carpenter helped invent the power ballad, without which it is impossible to imagine the careers of many rock & roll artists, he should be considered enough of an influence even so.

  9. Joseph Cook says:

    So, how might the public at large play a role in the induction of the Carpenters into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

  10. Pingback: Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: J. Geils Band | Edge Induced Cohesion

  11. Robert A Hajnal says:

    I am a huge fan of theirs. Lets look at some overwhelming facts. Karen harself holds some very important records. The first woman to co- produce two number one singles-Top Of The World and Please Mr. Postman. The first woman to produce or co produce five top five hits. In addition to the two mentioned earier these include-Sing, Yesterday Once More, and Only Yesterday and ten or more top 40 hits. Karen was chosen by Drummer Magazine and Instrumental Magazine as the greatest drummer of all time, her style and technique were perfect. Karen Carpenter is the only drummer and lead singer of a band to drum on three number one hits, Close To You, Top Of The World, and, Please Mr. Postman as well as five number two’s and four more top tens. Richard Carpenter is the originator of the Power Ballad. First played on Goodbye To Love and beyond, this dates back to August, 1972. The rest is history. The Carpenters were the first American Band to receive ten or more platinum singles,and, ten or more platinum or gold albums. The first to do this!,, Later CCR became the only other band to achieve this through the RIAA; Recording Industry Association of America. At one time more popular than the Beatles. Yesterday Once More the biggest single ever in Japan where they were perhaps the biggest recording act of all time. Immensly popular world-wide!!! I had the honor of seeing them at their height of success at The Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford, CT. in 19u3. I reside about a mile-and-a-half from there. Who is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame kidding!!! I am sure all the artists in tgere, still alive would vote them in unanimously, as Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney have suggested!! The artists themselves know talent, and are 100% spot on here!!!!!! If Nat King Cole, Jackson Browne, Hall & Oates,and James Taylor are in then why not the Carpenters. They were eligible in 1990 and should have been inducted then..This is a slam dunk, no brainer. Correct the unjust blasphemy and put the Carpenters into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and, make their induction retroactive to 1995. Thanks, Robert A Hajnal Wallingford, CT. December 23, 2017.

  12. Robert A Hajnal says:

    From Bob Hajnal again. The Carpenters had the first album that featured five top twelve hits and four b sided hits. A Song For You featured To of the World #1, Hurting Each Othet, #2, Goodbye To Love, #7, I Won’t Last A Day WithoutYou $11 And, It’s Going To Take Some Time. #12 as “A” sides. Also, Bless The Beasts And Children, The Fl of Superstar. Flat Baroque (I) the flip of Its Going To TakeSome Time. Crystal Lullaby. Theflip of Goodbye To Love. And, Road Ode the flip of Yesterday Once More. When you hear these it can be argued that theycould have had four more t tens. A Song For You, never released as a single could have made it ten. A historic multiolatinum anderhos most diverse album ever made. Not surprising, its from the Caenters. Merry Cbristmas. ASong For You as influential as any album i e any by yhe Beatles, Stones or theBeach Boys, period!!!!! Thank you

  13. Robert A Hajnal says:

    Think of this. There are artists in the Hall of Fame who never had ten hitts, let alone construct, create, andresent an album of the magnitude of the classic. A Song For You

    • There are plenty of artists in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame who have an extreme paucity of hits, and who have never influenced music to the level of, say, creating a new type of song (the power ballad) that becomes a memorable vehicle for plenty of hits by other people.

  14. Robert A Hajnal says:

    Which woman before Karen Carpenter did what she did? Diana Ross, Connie Francis, The Shirelkes, TheChiffons all great singers. None were producers or instrumentalists like Karen. Her talent was the greatest advance for Womens rights and Liberation although she never intended it to be that way. She was an extrordinary talent along withhet brothet, Richard, who gave her the freedom, and music to perform the way she and they did. Greatest influence since the Beatles, andnone even cclose since them. None even close!!!

    • Connie Frances still hasn’t been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, although she deserves to be, but yes, the Carpenters are an obvious one. Have you set up a twitter campaign for them or anything like that?

  15. Keith says:

    “Sprinkled moon dust……” It will be 49 years on 04/22/18 that Karen & Richard signed with A & M in 1969. They deserve to be in the R&R HOF. Sadly, I think, that it’s to an inductees advantage to “live life on the edge”. It’s all about exposed skin, twerking, screaming, and indiscernible lyrics today. It has nothing to do about voice, clarity, sound, expression, timing, instrumentals, mix, orchestration, etc. As everyone knows, The Carpenters were very “down to earth”, and they didn’t do “the party scene” if ever. 49 years later, and there’s still very few, if any female singer(s) that compare or can even come close to KC’s voice/personality, along with the songs that RC created, and their band members performed. I’ll be listening and playing all of my Carpenter’s favorites on 04/22. Thank you Karen, Richard, band members, Herb A., and Randy M. As stated by others, “what can we (I) do to get The Carpenters into the R&R HOF”. THEY DESERVE IT!!!

    • I think you’re right that those who live on the edge have a certain glamour about their lives that someone like Karen Carpenter didn’t have in her life. Still, she could sing, they made some great songs and changed music for good through their role in inventing the power ballad. What is glamour worth anyway?

      • Keith says:

        I don’t know of any successful musical groups/bands that purchase their parents a $300K home; although, I know that Karen & Richard used part of this home in Downey for their studio. Both of them seemed were very normal and grounded, NOT “living life on the edge”. For the most part they stayed away from “the party scene”. They worked very hard and produced a great sound, with very few breaks. Karen continued to shop in Downey, and gave back to the community even after they became millionaires in the early 1970’s. One of her favorite restaurants in Downey was “Bob’s Big Boy”. Yes, I’m aware that this was the restaurant Karen & her parents had dinner at the night before Karen died. Have you ever seen a grown man cry – very sad. I’m sure that KC enjoyed her Mercedes and her condo renovations X 2 at Century City (well deserved), and Richard continues to enjoy his car collection. The “goodie four shoes” and “wholesome image” that they presented SHOULD NOT disqualify them from the R & R HOF.
        “Six degrees of separation” —“Theory that everyone and everything as six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any person in the world, so that a chain of a friend of a friend can be made to connect any two people”. Lets get The Carpenters into the R & R HOF. Send an e-mail, call someone, text someone, go on Facebook (maybe?). Who do you know that knows someone? Write a letter to the R & R HOF “nomination committee”, and LISTEN to all of your Carpenters music on 04/22/18, 49 yrs. to the date that KACE & RC signed with A & M.

      • I don’t know anyone who is on the RRHOF nominating committee myself. I do know, however, that there are Facebook groups and Twitter social media campaigns who are aware of this blog, and so if there is a Facebook group or a major influencer on Twitter devoted to inducting and generally recognizing the Carpenters for their musical achievements, I definitely think this post and my post on giving credit where credit is due for the Carpenters’ role in inventing the power ballad would be good ones to share.

  16. Keith says:

    “Breaks” above as in their schedule, working/traveling 6 days a week for almost 7 years.

  17. James jenkins says:

    Karen carpenter could sing like no other female on this planet has ever been able to.she was without doubt in a league of her own.the rock n roll hall of fame is incomplete without the carpenters.r.i.p karen

  18. Keith says:

    Does anyone know what the process is to have a musical group/artist/singer inducted into the HOF? Do they need to get a nomination from another group, band member, “person of influence” in the industry (i.e. J. Osborn, “Cubby” Obrien, H. Alpert, J. Moss, etc.)?? I have no idea how this works. What about starting a “petition/drive” on one of The Carpenters websites? Facebook??

    • I think a petition/drive on the Carpenter’s website would be a good start, as would a Facebook group on getting them inducted that includes people sharing photos and posts and comments about their love of the Carpenters’ music and some articles about it. The #inductJanet campaign on Twitter has gotten a great deal of attention, and that would be something that Carpenters fans could adopt as well to keep the name of the band in the public consciousness. 😀

  19. Mary says:

    They Deserve To Be In They Made Alot. of Records and You Put Idiots Who Can’t sing!

    • Ah yes, they do deserve to be in the RRHOF, but adult contemporary has not been a style that is looked highly upon by the nominating committee.

    • Keith Talbot says:

      I don’t understand why The Carpenters continue to be overlooked; especially given the recent list of nominated inductees for 2019. KAC had a wonderful voice, and I continue to listen to the Carpenters on almost a daily basis. Karen’s voice & timing was flawless, and mesmerizing. I was glad to read recently that Richard has gone back into the studio (Abbey Road), to work on a new “album” with more orchestral contribution.

      • I must admit I’m not aware of Richard Carpenter’s work in recent years, so thanks for providing an update. I believe that the RRHOF consistently neglects acts that are Adult Contemporary or Easy Listening in terms of their music in favor of acts that are more edgy, but hopefully that is not something that will last forever.

  20. Douglas Herbert says:

    Just another push for the Carpenters. Their music was always a mellow type of genre that seems to always be lost to the Hall of Fame. Talent, Hits, and actual talent are totally lost in the last 20 years. Maybe a new category should be added for these type of singers and groups?? Another strange snub is one you mentioned in an earlier post..How is Connie Francis not inducted? I really think this must be political somehow. I hope both of these artists finally get the justice they deserve.

    • I’m not sure why Connie Francis isn’t inducted. Maybe the nominating committee just forgot about how great she was? I definitely agree that the mellow forms of music like easy listening/adult contemporary tend to be neglected by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as there are a lot of pivotal artists in that lane whose accomplishments are completely ignored.

    • Keith Talbot says:

      I agree that “this must be political somehow”. If I recall, The Carpenters leaned Republican, KC dated Mike Curb for a short time, and they performed at the WH during Nixon’s administration; not that any of that should disqualify them. Interesting that Mike C. (R) served as Lt. Gov. with Jerry Brown in the early 1980’s. The Carpenters were so unique and different in the music they made/performed. To date, not one singer/group/band compares. The RRHOF nominating/voting committee must be “tone deaf”. Hmm…….., what could that be a result of?? Any suggestions/ideas how a petition could be started? Letters to the RRHOF from music industry “heavy-weights” (i.e. J. Bettis, H. Alpert, R. Moss, M. Curb)??

      UPDATE: New Carpenters “album” set for release on 12/07/18 – see/refer to 10/15/18 post above.

      • Thanks for the heads up on the new Carpenters album set for release; I have one of their best of sets that I listen to from time to time. As far as suggestions or ideas about how a petition could be started, here are some quick options:

        Facebook group/twitter campaign that keeps the Carpenters and their contribution to music in the public sphere and allows for the mobilization of fans of the band.

        Online public letters from industry heavy-hitters that reflects on anniversaries of Karen’s death and how much she has been missed, as well as the continued legacy of the band and how it has been inspired others.

        If possible, it would be good to hear some comments and see some interviews where artists talk about having been inspired by the Carpenters.

      • Keith Talbot says:

        Thank you NA, and good ideas. I’m very “old school” when it comes to 21st C. technology (i.e. no smart phone, FB, no texting, snapchat, etc.). I still use paper, pens, stamps, and USPS – HA!

      • You’re welcome 🙂 I’m glad you appreciate the ideas. I have seen them work for other acts, that’s how I knew them. The ELO/Jeff Lynne group on Facebook did a good job at mobilizing support for ELO’s candidacy, @InductJanet has done great work on Twitter, and Chicago benefited from a lot of heavy hitters writing articles that were often posted on my blog for others to read as well :).

  21. Thomas Blondis says:

    The carpenter’s better be inducted and should have been inducted in the rock and roll hall of fame years ago. Karen’s voice was soulful and many career singers felt that she could touch their emotions a with her gorgeous voice. Her brother is a virtuoso pianist and wrote dome amazing songs that they sang together.

    If Miles Davis and Joan Baez are Hall of famers then you don’t have to be s rock star you receive this honor.

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