BBC Ray Moore Interview September 1981 ******COMPLETED******

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I have never attempted to do anything like this before, but I promised Gordo I would transcribe this interview and have posted it as a new topic for the benefit of all forum members.

For those that don't know Ray Moore was a much loved radio presenter on BBC Radio 2 and a huge fan of the Carpenters. Like Karen he too passed away far too soon in 1988 at the age of 47.

In September 1981 he visited Karen and Richard in Los Angeles at A & M Studios and this is the conversation that took place and was played on Radio 2 the week after Karen's passing as a tribute.

As an aside to this, part of this interview was also broadcast in the tribute by the BBC to Ray himself in 1988. In his autobiography he described the afternoon as one of the happiest and most relaxed times of his life.

Ray Moore with Richard and Karen Carpenter on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Songs played will be shown in CAPITALS and BLUE FONT, I won't use quotation marks, but will try to convey the spirit of the conversation by including behaviors such as (laughs), if that makes sense !

RAY MOORE ( February 1983) - Karen Carpenter born 1950 New Haven, Connecticut, died February 4 1983 in Los Angeles, 32 brief years in which that shimmering bell like voice enriched the lives of us all. Back in September 1981, Dennis O'Keefe (Ray's producer) and I spent a magical afternoon with the Carpenters in Los Angeles recording what was tragically Karen's last major radio interview.


SEPTEMBER 1981 at A & M Studios

RAY - Karen and Richard sitting facing me at the moment, you've had a marvelous run of super songs over the last ten or fifteen years, Richard I'm going to ask you first, what do you look for in a Carpenters song, what is the quality of a Carpenters song, can you define it ?

RICHARD - Well it it has to have something right off the beat of the melody that grabs me, coz I go with gut reaction, you know if it gives me chills then I type to the thing. So it has to be a combination of that and something that fits with Karen's style and range.

RAY - Yeah, so could you define your style and range Karen? - you have a super voice.

KAREN - Oh thank you very much, (pauses) boy ! - I've been asked to describe it before, but I really don't have a common place answer, its just the way that I feel. I've never really copied anybody or styled myself after anybody. You see the way my voice turned up was kind of an accident in in the first place, I didn't know I could sing or do anything until I was about sixteen years old.

RAY - Okay so tell us how the accident happened

KAREN - Well Richard was musical almost from birth, (laughs) well one !, he was very lackadaisical !! (Ray and Richard laugh), and through my whole life, I'm three years younger than Richard, and from the time that Richard was two he was interested in listening and just took an enormous interest and even though he couldn't read labels he could could tell which record was which by feeling the grooves on the edge (Ray and Karen laugh) It's amazing ! and throughout his whole life he took an enormous interest and began showing he that he had a gift in a lot of areas. He started playing the piano and around the age of 11 or 12 started studying quite seriously and took to it quite quickly.
Myself, I did everything Richard did, it was unconscious, but because I idolized him so much even though we were 3 years apart, I did everything he did, thusly to this day every record we've ever listened to his embedded in my mind ! and we listened to a lot of different types of music because my father had quite a varied selection. You know from things like Spike Jones, Red Nicholls, the classics.

RAY - Yes because your Dad was a musician as well, wasn't he ?

KAREN - No, er both my parents, more so my Dad than my Mum are appreciators of music. (Turning to Richard) I think thats the best way to put it.

RICHARD - Yeah music lovers.

RAY - So your childhood at home, in New England you were brought up, there was a lot of music in the home ?

KAREN & RICHARD ( simultaneously) Yes

RICHARD - But to answer the question, what really happened.............

KAREN - (interrupting) Oh - I was building up !

RAY - (laughs)

RICHARD - I've been interested in voice practically all my life, and I liked to see what different people could do and Mum has quite a nice voice, and there came a time when I started writing tunes and really er you know getting in with groups and things, and I really became interested in how Karen would sound. This was right around the time she was 15 or something like that and I remember we sang the Skeeter Davis hit "At The End Of The World" and she had this tiny little voice, it was in tune and pleasant, but not outstanding by any stretch. Anyway we'd fool around with it from time to time and I came up with this tune, once we'd moved to California, it was like a year later. I wrote it in G and just laid it out for Karen to sing in G and all of a sudden this voice just came out ! which is of course the one we hear on record singing the lead.

KAREN - I was saving it !!!!

RAY - (laughs)

RICHARD - And it just was there, so she has like too distinct voices, the big one, the one we're all familiar with

KAREN (fooling around) Ahhhhhhhhhhh !!

RICHARD - It was a little untrained sounding at first

KAREN - It sounded country

RICHARD - There was no vibrato there and it was a little..........

RAY - Yes. Yes Yes

RICHARD - But after like six months or so the vibrato was there and it was just maturing very rapidly.

KAREN - I was building up to that !!


RAY - What was your early ambition then Karen ?

KAREN - Baseball !

RAY - Baseball ?

KAREN - Yeah very into baseball, while Richard was listening to music , you know we had a basement and all he did was (laughing) just sit and listen to music and I'd be out playing baseball or football or playing with my machine gun !

RAY (laughing)

KAREN - Very tomboyish ............quite a character I hear !, I remember I wanted to be a commercial artist or a nurse........or an airline stewardess, but :-

1. I can't stand the sight of blood
2. If I fly one more mile !

I still like art, but what I started to say was that the whole way of me getting involved with music was different than the way Richard got into it.

RAY - I see

KAREN - He knew he was always going to be in music, it didn't matter in what area, I mean if he stopped what he was doing today, he could go into ten other areas.

RAY - You seem to be fans of each other ?

KAREN - Mmmm ! - (laughs)

RICHARD - Oh yeah, I like Karen definitely.

KAREN - That's from childhood.

RAY - You were trained as a classical drummer weren't you Karen?

KAREN - Now you see when I went to high school, I had no idea I could do a blasted thing !!

RAY - (laughs)

KAREN - Seriously !, I just kinda hung around and watched him be good you know. So when I went to high school after we moved out to California, I didn't want to go into gym and I also wanted to get out of geometry coz I stunk at it ! Thusly, I ended up in marching band and choir, which is very ironic because thats how I got started, not knowing that I could do anything, I started to realize that the choir director wasn't very good and the choir sang out of tune and when I got into marching band I immediately fell in love with the drums and I was the first female drummer !. The band director thought I was crazy, but luckily I took to them right away and I played for a year and a half before I studied.

RAY - Really, do you still play now ?

KAREN - Oh yeah, we haven't been on stage in a little while, but I play on stage - I used to play the entire show, but they were looking for someone to front the group and they all looking at me, so we had to get another drummer. So now we have a nine minute drum extravaganza between myself and our drummer Cubby O'Brien.


RAY - Coming down to the nitty gritty Richard, if I can turn to you. When you get into the studio to record a new album, does a producer come in or - I mean you've written many songs for the Carpenters with John Bettis and yourself - Are you the producer or does a producer come in ?

RICHARD - Oh no, I take care of the producing

RAY - The total sound, the whole concept ?

RICHARD - Oh yeah

KAREN - One of the things thats happened over the years is that for some reason, people don't look at Credits and because they hear me in the foreground then they think that its my record. I mean I do the lead singing, but Richard does all the picking of the material, all the arranging, all the orchestrating, he conducts it, he produces it, we sing it, we play it and take it into the mix room and right into the mastering room.

RAY - I see, so how long does it take Richard to take your recent one, Made In America, from when you get together with John Bettis and write the songs and then go into a recording studio - how long is it from that original concept to when I can go into a record shop in England and buy it ?

RICHARD - We cant use the last album, because that one we over recorded, but a typical album, where the songs are picked, written or whatever, I'd say................

KAREN - Six months

RICHARD - Well yeah - Four to six

RAY - So its a long time !!

RICHARD - Oh yeah

KAREN - This last one took a year,

RAY - Did it !

RICHARD - Well thats coz we did so much extra stuff and Karen got married right in the middle of it ! (laughing)

KAREN - No actually it was right at the beginning of it ! (also laughing)

RAY - (laughs)

KAREN - No ............. we hadn't been in the studio for a couple of years and...............

RAY - Well I was going to ask you about that, because as far as we were concerned in England, there'd been a tremendous run of success in the early seventies, then something of a lull and now Made in America has been a tremendous success all over the world. Was that lull a conscious decision, while you got married ?

RICHARD - Even before that

KAREN - Oh yeah

RICHARD - It was just that we'd been going at quite a breakneck pace, in a few instances, we'd finish the album and go straight to the airport to go out on tour and what with TV shows, photo sessions,... all the different things, there was really no time to kick back at all. We started to tire - it shows in your music

RAY - Yes indeed

RICHARD - We just wanted to knock off for a little bit


RAY - And I must ask you Karen, We were very concerned in England a couple of years ago about your illness, because there were all sorts of strange press reports and some rather peculiar photos of you. You're obviously fully fit again now and you've just got over the flu as well

KAREN - Yes, yes

RAY - I mean, what was going on then because a lot of Carpenters fans were very worried

KAREN - I was just pooped - just tired, both mentally and physically exhausted from being on the road year round and we were in the middle of some a management changes and it just got to a point of (pauses)

RAY - Gotta stop ?

KAREN - Because in seven years we never really took a vacation, I just got tired out, was exhausted, lost too much weight and ended up in bed for two months.

RAY - Two months ! - So it was pretty serious then ?

KAREN - No no it wasn't serious, I just needed some sleep ! You know now and then everyone needs sleep. Thats basically what it took.

RAY - Well its nice to see you fully fit again anyway


RAY - Do either of you have any regrets - one of my favorite songs of yours is the one that starts "Long ago and oh so far away"

RICHARD - Oh thats my favorite -Superstar

RAY - Superstar - You sing that with such passion as though you may be longing for something that is lost and cant be returned, is that true
Karen ?

KAREN - Well, certain tunes hit me and really get to me, (pauses) thats odd, before you ask this, have we ever disagreed on any tunes. For some reason that tune did not hit me and thats the only one, and he looked at me like I had three heads and said you're out of of your mind !! Of course when I heard his arrangement of it, I fell over !! Now its one of my favorites too but that song still upsets me when I sing it. That and Rainy Days, from the first day that I sang that, Rainy Days just tears me to shreds and I go into a whole different world.

RAY - Do you not get bored singing those songs in concert ?

KAREN - NO, no - that and I Need To Be In Love - I have to practically snap my self out of it and I get done with it.

RAY - So when you're performing on stage, touring and doing a lot of travelling, you must find it an emotionally draining experience, the two of you, you're putting that degree of emotion into it, you must feel exhausted Karen as you were saying before ?

KAREN - It can get to you after seven years !! (laughs) Coz we didn't ever really take a vacation..... you know we'd be on the road nine, well eight or nine months of the year and then we'd come home and either be doing television or cutting another album. It was literally our seventh year before we eventually took a vacation and went to Hawaii and when we got there we didn't know what to do with ourselves, we were crazy !!
(Turning to Richard) Did we ??

RICHARD - I kind of fell onto it in a big hurry !!

KAREN - It took ya five days !!!!!!

RICHARD Oh no, no, no - it took one day !!


RAY - There is a quote somewhere that says when the Carpenters became a duo, they based the sound on the four B's, The Beatles, Burt Bacharach, The BeeGees and The Beach Boys, I mean is that true ?

RICHARD - Well there are some influences from a couple, Bacharach for sure, not the vocal thing but just the way I arrange, he had a big influence on a lot of people and The Beach Boys of course, while our vocal sound is different than theirs, its still very west coast and a sound that really drove me towards getting into that area.

RAY - Yes, yes, Is it true that some of the early recordings were done in a garage ??


RICHARD, Sure in the garage of well known session musician Joe Osborn, who for years lived in the valley here, he moved to Nashville about five or six years ago.

KAREN - Oh no its much longer than that now, eight years !

RICHARD - Geeze is it eight now !! And he had a garage studio,

KAREN with a four track

RICHARD - and a couple of Altecs, a Chamberlain Music Master, a little Wurlitzer piano and a drum kit.

RAY - Yes, because Herb Alpert seems to have an affinity with garages, he started recording in a garage

RICHARD - Yeah, he ............

KAREN - There's a lot of.........Okay I've got to get this straight this time, there's a lot of things that run parallel with Herb and ourselves, He started in a garage right

RAY - Yes

KAREN - We cut our first stuff in a garage, and er he was signed with RCA, but as a vocalist and he told them he had a trumpet idea, but they didn't care ! and we were signed with RCA as a jazz trio and Richard said well my sister sings - they didn't care !! Its ironic that we all ended up together, and (turning to Richard) whats that other thing I always mix up about Close To You going to Number One and.....

RICHARD - Oh its nothing that much - something about its almost two years apart and the same amount time to go to Number .....

KAREN - thats right Yes

RAY - Interesting coincidences though


KAREN - Yes - strange


RAY - Where did John Bettis turn up then ?

RICHARD - John turned up in choir, I was at Cal State University at Long Beach, they've changed the name of this school four times............. !

KAREN - They change it every week !

RAY - (Laughing)

RICHARD - I don't know what they call it now, but at the time it was Long Beach State........

KAREN - Oh its much longer than that now !!

RICHARD - So I majored in music and if you're a music major you have to...... er a recital each semester and then you get either a closed or open recital. If you play well enough and the professors think you're qualified enough you'll get open recital which means you play for your peers.

RAY - I see

RICHARD - Traumatic ! - Very traumatic and the other thing you have to do is be in a choral outfit or band, and they had two of each - a good choir and a bad choir and a good band and a bad band !! - so everybody could be in one of the other

RAY - (Laughing)

KAREN - (Laughing)

RICHARD - So I auditioned for...........I mean playing piano - forget band, you know, they didn't have Piano in band, so I opted for the choir and I certainly didn't want to be in the college chorus as it was called , so I figured I'll just audition for the A Capella choir and was accepted. So I worked with a man called Frank Pooler, who ended up writing the lyrics to Merry Christmas Darling......

RAY - Yes, yes

RICHARD - He had a big influence on me because of the vocal school of thought that he worked with, you know instead of every man for himself, it was blending with one another.

RAY - Yes

RICHARD - so let me see I was in it for one year and then the next year he said I've got someone I'd like you to meet that I've just put in the choir...........

KAREN - (laughing) I want you to meet another lunatic !!

RAY (laughing)

RICHARD - and he writes lyrics and I thought the two of you may like to put together some kind of novelty piece for our concerts and thats where I met John and we hit it off immediately and did some things for the choir and wrote some tunes right at college there like oh er Mr Guder and Saturday.

RAY - yes coz its interesting your music because you go from the deeply
romantic , sentimental to other tracks like Mr Guder you mentioned and Goofus with a strong tongue in cheek sense of humour, I mean you obviously get a lot of laughs out of music as well.

KAREN - Yeah, we're all over the place !

RICHARD - Oh yeah

KAREN - Its from our upbringing, you know, in our concerts we cover the gamut, we go from one end to the other, we go from piano concerto to destroying Close To You like Spike Jones.

RAY - (laughs)

KAREN - Take it all in !


RAY - Your first string of hits were sort of against the odds.........

KAREN - It was absolutely against the odds

RAY - You know, beautiful vocal sounds, warm sensuous music against all the heavy rock that was around at the time, its very interesting actually

RICHARD - It just turned out that the radio programme was looking for a change of pace, we didn't know that of course, we just put out Close To You and boom ! - pleasant surprise.

KAREN - Big Boom !

RAY - With respect to you Richard, I know you put put a lot of work in behind the scenes, writing and producing the LP's, I think of the Carpenters as your voice Karen

KAREN - Oh thank you (turns to Richard) Close you ears !

RAY - (Laughs)

RICHARD - (Laughing) Oh I'm used to it !!

RAY - Do you have any particular routine to keep you your voice in trim, do you still take voice lessons ?

KAREN - No, I never took voice lessons, I just kinda open my mouth !

RAY - What never !!

RICHARD - Mmm, mmm Nah !

KAREN - No I just kinda walk out, I've been very luck that way, I had laryngitis once and we had to cancel three shows in Utah,

RAY - That must be a nightmare

KAREN - I couldn't believe it, coz I'd never had it any other time, had I


KAREN - I remember I was driving home and (sings) Ooh I hear laughter in the rain, Is that the right key ?


KAREN - Yeah I think thats it

RAY - Yes the Neil Sedaka hit

KAREN - I remember I was driving home and it was like Five o'clock in the afternoon and my voice went urrrrahaaaagh - and I went "hello" and it was gone and I have no idea why it did that crummy rotten thing it did to me



RAY - Some of my favorite Carpenters songs are the Close To You's, Superstar and all the gold LP's dotted around the room in here. Would you describe yourselves as romantic people at heart, are you romantic Richard ?

RICHARD - Incurable !!

KAREN - (laughs)

RICHARD - Definitely romantic, in a lot of areas, whether its a story or a movie we're watching ...

KAREN - Oh anything

RAY - Yeah - Can music bring you to tears ?


KAREN - Absolutely

RAY - What sort of music ?

RICHARD - Well, it.......mmmmh, oh, it can be something like, say the theme from the third movement of Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto, which is better known as Full Moon And Empty Arms, but the original, thats the one that gets me. It can be something like that or Strangers in Paradise, the original, you know with the oboe and the whole thing. Or certain pop tunes, if its a combination of a great series of chord changes, a beautiful melody and just the right lyrics....

KAREN - and the right voice

RICHARD - you know tugging at the heartstrings, the whole thing, it can definitely do it.

RAY - You mentioned the right voice, whose voices do you like listening to ?

RICHARD - (to Karen) Go ahead

KAREN - Well Manilow gets to me, there's one he released at the same as we released I Need To Be In Love, (sings) "This one's for you where ever you are" , that rips me to shreds and we went to see him in concert and I said Barry that kills me and he said that the one that gets to him the most, ironically, is my other favorite, I Need To Be In Love and they were both out at the same time. I get almost to tears when I hear, Arthur, that shakes me up, I really like it. It depends on the mood you're in.

RAY - Yes

KAREN - If I'm in a bad mood or upset about something and I've said this a million times, I'll put on our Christmas album and that'll bring me to tears. I mean I came home one night and we were mixing the Christmas album, and Richard was mixing White Christmas and I walked in and he was in tears, and I said whats matter with you, I didn't do that bad a job !!

RAY - (laughs)

KAREN - I mean its just things like that can shake you up, you know, coz its so gorgeous and it upsets us that - oh how do I put this, er music like that isn't accepted anymore you know on radio and.......

RICHARD - Oh it is

RAY - It is in England

KAREN - Well not in the way we'd like it to be

RAY - It certainly is in England.


RAY - Your lives.. you're internationally known megastars around the world, the two of you, it must make it for a very lonely life, do you find yourselves lonely and having to be protected from fans and pests like me that turn up from London !

RICHARD & KAREN -(laugh)

RAY - Do you find it a lonely existence as opposed to the fun of the very early days ?

RICHARD - Oh its different than the early days for sure, its a thing where you don't get to meet that many people, you really don't, just because you're locked in a recording studio, or out on the road you know town to town one night after the next.

RAY - What about the two of you as brother and sister, I remember my sister and I, we used to fight like cat and dog. Is it a problem having family rows, I mean, do you ever argue over the material you've got to record or the style of the arrangements ?


KAREN - Luckily, we think the same

RICHARD - Our musical tastes are the same

KAREN - That's very helpful and its also helpful in the production and recording because I can look at him and know what he's thinking and he tell from the tone of my voice what I'm thinking. We can play and sing together a Capella or do something bardo, be in two different rooms and be right together, coz we just think alike.

RAY - Yes its like a mental telepathy

KAREN - (Joking) - Yeah we're both sick !!

RAY - (laughs)

KAREN - No luckily we've always gotten along very well and we've always had the same interests, music, cars, racing, movies and television, we like the same things




Well-Known Member
Thank You, David for doing this! I know it's a lot of work, but your work is appreciated by us all!
The Carpenters Legacy continues!


Thread Starter
Not far to go now ! Apologies that this has taken so long, its a lot harder than I thought it would be, despite having had this interview on tape for 24 years and knowing virtually every word of it.
I'm on holiday this week so promise it will be completed in next few days.

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
Wow, a real fan you are! I've had this interview since 1986, I think. One of my favorites. You're a real trouper for transcribing the whole thing!


Thread Starter
Thanks - it was my pleasure - I may do some more in time if anyone is interested - I've probably some stuff from the UK that might not be familiar to everyone in America.


New Member
DJS said:
Thanks - it was my pleasure - I may do some more in time if anyone is interested - I've probably some stuff from the UK that might not be familiar to everyone in America.

We're interested!
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