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Karen Carpenter - Best Rock Drummer 1975

theninjarabbit

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I was reading around about Karen's winning of a Playboy magazine poll for "Best Rock Drummer of the Year" in 1975 and I discovered this forum post.
Karen Carpenter ~ 1975 'Playboy Magazine' ~ Best Rock Drummer of the Year »

Playboy Reader's Poll

1 .... Karen Carpenter
2 .... John Bonham
3 .... Ringo Starr
4 .... Keith Moon
5 .... Mick Fleetwood

True Story


Karen 'KC' Carpenter, after seeing that she won a Reader's Poll as being named
Playboy's 1975 Best Rock Drummer of the Year.

"I am both humbled and embarrassed by being named as the Best Rock Drummer.
There are many talented Drummers out there, and to even be considered 'good'
is a tremendous recognition."

"I heard that John Bonham {of Led Zeppelin} is quite upset. I hope he is not
mad at me, as I had nothing to do with the Poll. But, he said that I couldn't last
10-Minutes with Led Zeppelin."

"Well I just want him to know, that I love Led Zeppelin, and I can play a decent
set of songs that they recorded. Just watch me now."

Karen then jumped behind the 'Drum Kit', and handled herself quite well while
banging out > "Babe, I'm Going to Leave You" > while also singing the song and
not missing a beat.


Does anybody know where this interview is?

She was so humble about her own talents, it's great. In terms of "rock" I guess a lot of people would disagree, but the definition of "rock" is subjective to a lot of people. I think KC is in a league all her own. A lot of people on there disagreed, but recognized her talents.

My mother being a HUGE Led Zeppelin fan, I wish this playing and singing of "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" existed in recording/video so I could show her. She loves Karen --and I'm sure she'd be surprised to hear Karen loved Led Zeppelin-- but I think she took more of John Bonham's side. :D
 

Superstar

Rainy Day and Monday Specialist
I was reading around about Karen's winning of a Playboy magazine poll for "Best Rock Drummer of the Year" in 1975 and I discovered this forum post.
Karen Carpenter ~ 1975 'Playboy Magazine' ~ Best Rock Drummer of the Year »

Playboy Reader's Poll

1 .... Karen Carpenter
2 .... John Bonham
3 .... Ringo Starr
4 .... Keith Moon
5 .... Mick Fleetwood

True Story


Karen 'KC' Carpenter, after seeing that she won a Reader's Poll as being named
Playboy's 1975 Best Rock Drummer of the Year.

"I am both humbled and embarrassed by being named as the Best Rock Drummer.
There are many talented Drummers out there, and to even be considered 'good'
is a tremendous recognition."

"I heard that John Bonham {of Led Zeppelin} is quite upset. I hope he is not
mad at me, as I had nothing to do with the Poll. But, he said that I couldn't last
10-Minutes with Led Zeppelin."

"Well I just want him to know, that I love Led Zeppelin, and I can play a decent
set of songs that they recorded. Just watch me now."

Karen then jumped behind the 'Drum Kit', and handled herself quite well while
banging out > "Babe, I'm Going to Leave You" > while also singing the song and
not missing a beat.


Does anybody know where this interview is?

She was so humble about her own talents, it's great. In terms of "rock" I guess a lot of people would disagree, but the definition of "rock" is subjective to a lot of people. I think KC is in a league all her own. A lot of people on there disagreed, but recognized her talents.

My mother being a HUGE Led Zeppelin fan, I wish this playing and singing of "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" existed in recording/video so I could show her. She loves Karen --and I'm sure she'd be surprised to hear Karen loved Led Zeppelin-- but I think she took more of John Bonham's side. :D
I'm surprised to read that she liked Led Zeppelin... She sure had eclectic taste in music! Anyone else heard of any other bands/singers they liked that were a surprise to you?
 

BarryT60

Well-Known Member
Oddly, I was just reviewing Rolling Stone's top 100 drummers of all time - and Karen was nowhere to be found... Sickening.
 

JBee

Active Member
Oddly, I was just reviewing Rolling Stone's top 100 drummers of all time - and Karen was nowhere to be found... Sickening.
Rolling Stone also listed KC as the 94th Greatest Singer of all time, when many of those it listed above clearly aren't in her league.

Karen maybe the most famous (and successful?)female drummer in the history and clearly influenced a whole generation of young girls to try the drums who otherwise wouldn't. She should be on the list even if only for that (in addition to her undeniable - and even RS didn't deny it while she was alive - talent on the kit).
 

song4u

Well-Known Member
Rolling Stone also listed KC as the 94th Greatest Singer of all time, when many of those it listed above clearly aren't in her league.

Karen maybe the most famous (and successful?)female drummer in the history and clearly influenced a whole generation of young girls to try the drums who otherwise wouldn't. She should be on the list even if only for that (in addition to her undeniable - and even RS didn't deny it while she was alive - talent on the kit).
I wanted to learn drums. My parents said "You can play piano. We have one of those." I had a friend who was a good female drummer though.
 

KJKennedy

Member
I was reading around about Karen's winning of a Playboy magazine poll for "Best Rock Drummer of the Year" in 1975 and I discovered this forum post.
Karen Carpenter ~ 1975 'Playboy Magazine' ~ Best Rock Drummer of the Year »

Playboy Reader's Poll

1 .... Karen Carpenter
2 .... John Bonham
3 .... Ringo Starr
4 .... Keith Moon
5 .... Mick Fleetwood

True Story


Karen 'KC' Carpenter, after seeing that she won a Reader's Poll as being named
Playboy's 1975 Best Rock Drummer of the Year.

"I am both humbled and embarrassed by being named as the Best Rock Drummer.
There are many talented Drummers out there, and to even be considered 'good'
is a tremendous recognition."

"I heard that John Bonham {of Led Zeppelin} is quite upset. I hope he is not
mad at me, as I had nothing to do with the Poll. But, he said that I couldn't last
10-Minutes with Led Zeppelin."

"Well I just want him to know, that I love Led Zeppelin, and I can play a decent
set of songs that they recorded. Just watch me now."

Karen then jumped behind the 'Drum Kit', and handled herself quite well while
banging out > "Babe, I'm Going to Leave You" > while also singing the song and
not missing a beat.


Does anybody know where this interview is?

She was so humble about her own talents, it's great. In terms of "rock" I guess a lot of people would disagree, but the definition of "rock" is subjective to a lot of people. I think KC is in a league all her own. A lot of people on there disagreed, but recognized her talents.

My mother being a HUGE Led Zeppelin fan, I wish this playing and singing of "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" existed in recording/video so I could show her. She loves Karen --and I'm sure she'd be surprised to hear Karen loved Led Zeppelin-- but I think she took more of John Bonham's side. :D
I've always liked Led Zeppelin, (as well as Bowie and alot of the 70's rock bands), but I gotta say I think John Bonham had it backwards - HE couldn't play 10 minutes of some of the jazz Karen played early on with the Carpenters. Just listen to 'All I Can Do' from Offering. Odd time signatures, rhythm changes, and no doubt we all know she could do it live WHILE singing flawlessly. And classy enough to give Bonham some praise.
Rock on Karen!
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
This 1975 Playboy Drummers List, again, compels me to ponder:
After 1975, as we now know, Karen does precious little drumming.
(At least, if one compares before 1975 to after).
Did the "list" have any conscious part to play in subsequently
downplaying Karen's drumming skills ?

I remember glancing at the Horizon album credits, seeing
Karen Carpenter credited for drumming and it blew me away, totally.
So, I had not, until that time, realized she was a drummer !
It was a very special moment: That voice and the drums !
 

Guitarmutt

Active Member
Rolling Stone also listed KC as the 94th Greatest Singer of all time, when many of those it listed above clearly aren't in her league.

Karen maybe the most famous (and successful?)female drummer in the history and clearly influenced a whole generation of young girls to try the drums who otherwise wouldn't. She should be on the list even if only for that (in addition to her undeniable - and even RS didn't deny it while she was alive - talent on the kit).
That RS list of drummers is curious and a bit dubious, I think. No Karen, but Meg White? Janet Weiss is only at 90? Then the amazing Buddy Rich is only at 15. Ringo rates higher than Buddy Rich? I would rate Keith Moon higher than John Bohnam and Neil Peart higher than both, in the long run, but not as high as Buddy who is lower than Gene Krupa who is somehow lower than Stewart Copeland(?)!

And on and on. It just goes to show, and it does with our own top 20 Carps tunes, how subjective taste really is.
 

ScottyB

Active Member
After reading several previous posts, I don't recognize Rolling Stone magazine or any of its connections, such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as being respectable. I find them to be very bias and prejudice. They don't account for true fan recognition or actual consumer sales.
 

moog

Member
I was reading around about Karen's winning of a Playboy magazine poll for "Best Rock Drummer of the Year" in 1975 and I discovered this forum post.
Karen Carpenter ~ 1975 'Playboy Magazine' ~ Best Rock Drummer of the Year »

Playboy Reader's Poll

1 .... Karen Carpenter
2 .... John Bonham
3 .... Ringo Starr
4 .... Keith Moon
5 .... Mick Fleetwood

True Story


Karen 'KC' Carpenter, after seeing that she won a Reader's Poll as being named
Playboy's 1975 Best Rock Drummer of the Year.

"I am both humbled and embarrassed by being named as the Best Rock Drummer.
There are many talented Drummers out there, and to even be considered 'good'
is a tremendous recognition."

"I heard that John Bonham {of Led Zeppelin} is quite upset. I hope he is not
mad at me, as I had nothing to do with the Poll. But, he said that I couldn't last
10-Minutes with Led Zeppelin."

"Well I just want him to know, that I love Led Zeppelin, and I can play a decent
set of songs that they recorded. Just watch me now."

Karen then jumped behind the 'Drum Kit', and handled herself quite well while
banging out > "Babe, I'm Going to Leave You" > while also singing the song and
not missing a beat.


Does anybody know where this interview is?

She was so humble about her own talents, it's great. In terms of "rock" I guess a lot of people would disagree, but the definition of "rock" is subjective to a lot of people. I think KC is in a league all her own. A lot of people on there disagreed, but recognized her talents.

My mother being a HUGE Led Zeppelin fan, I wish this playing and singing of "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" existed in recording/video so I could show her. She loves Karen --and I'm sure she'd be surprised to hear Karen loved Led Zeppelin-- but I think she took more of John Bonham's side. :D
I'd love it if that were true, but this "Kallie" person on the forums that posted it may very well be making it up. Here's another "quote" from them that may be factually true, or just wishful thinking. The only way to know for sure is to either find that article, or ask "Kallie" on those boards.
 

John Tkacik

Active Member
It would be interesting to know what were the actual number of votes that each of the top 5 received. Her reply reminded me of the story of her questioning the compliment that she received from John Lennon. Does anyone recall hearing DJ's mention this at the time (or maybe Johnny Carson)?
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
After reading several previous posts, I don't recognize Rolling Stone magazine or any of its connections, such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as being respectable. I find them to be very bias and prejudice. They don't account for true fan recognition or actual consumer sales.
I completely agree with your comment. Rolling Stone Magazine participated in the "marginalization" of The Carpenters early in their careers. I was surprised that they actually conducted and interview and put them on the cover in 1974 (they must have needed a circulation boost!). But for the most part, they "panned" all their concerts and albums. The RRHOF is completely meaningless, ask recent inductee Steve Miller. Also, album-rock stations of that time would not play their music (in my case KLOS in Los Angeles). They would have no problem playing James Taylor, Carly Simon, and Carol King but refuse to play The Carpenters.

As far as the best drummer award goes; I heard "Bonzo" Bonham was so upset that Karen won the award that he got drunk and destroyed his hotel room. Oh wait, he was going to do that anyway...

I hope that quote about Karen loving Led Zeppelin was true. She was so quirky, one of the endearing things about her.
 

David A

Well-Known Member
...As far as the best drummer award goes; I heard "Bonzo" Bonham was so upset that Karen won the award that he got drunk and destroyed his hotel room. Oh wait, he was going to do that anyway...
ROFL! That's funny, Carpe deim.
 

ars nova

Active Member
when speaking of drumming, even herb alpert said she could play the drums, but she was not a drummer. i took that to mean she could play whatever arrangement richard wrote for her, but did not have the creativity in drumming, that she so easily mastered with her vocals. if I remember, carpenters management instigated the rolling stone interview. carpenters were coming off their biggest year ever with the mega-sales of THE SINGLES, so they could hardly be ignored.

although nothing drastic was printed, the journalist wrote that Karen was prone to bitchiness. people in the core of the industry knew the talent and force carpenters had, carole king said that next to the carpenters, her version of IT'S GOING TO TAKE SOME TIME sounded like a demo.

I think the hangers-on in the industry were the ones to really give them the rap about being " goody two shoes". if you didn't experience the 70's, you can't comprehend the atmosphere. America was just coming out of the biggest debacle of the viet nam war. we were soon to have the humiliation of a vice-president being convicted of receiving bribes, then the president stepping down. it was not an easy time to be accepted if you did not present an iconoclastic appearance. a&m had no clue about maketing them; that is why the logo was created, they could either take individual pictures (now and then) sweet ones (tan album) or logo and paintings ( made in America and Christmas abums).
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
The Carpenters had a "Bacharach Medley" in most of their concerts; I think they should've had a "Zeppelin Medley" at some point. Could you imagine Karen on drums singing lead vocal on When The Levee Breaks?!
 

David A

Well-Known Member
...when speaking of drumming, even herb alpert said she could play the drums, but she was not a drummer. i took that to mean she could play whatever arrangement richard wrote for her, but did not have the creativity in drumming, that she so easily mastered with her vocals.
Hmmmm. Did Karen _never_ offer Richard alternatives for drum parts or explore different approaches with him? We know Tony Peluso did some back-and-forth with Richard on guitar parts, why not Karen with drums? I am skeptical that Karen simply sat there and drummed Richard's arrangements, with no creative input or improvisation at all, ever.
 

ars nova

Active Member
Hmmmm. Did Karen _never_ offer Richard alternatives for drum parts or explore different approaches with him? We know Tony Peluso did some back-and-forth with Richard on guitar parts, why not Karen with drums? I am skeptical that Karen simply sat there and drummed Richard's arrangements, with no creative input or improvisation at all, ever.
none of us have a way of knowing what happened in the studio. I was offering my inference of an article I had read. if you are able to contact mr alpert, I expect he would clear the confusion.
 

David A

Well-Known Member
none of us have a way of knowing what happened in the studio. I was offering my inference of an article I had read. if you are able to contact mr alpert, I expect he would clear the confusion.
Hah! I'll call him up tomorrow, he's on speed dial :wink:

Can you by chance point me in the direction of this interview with Mr. Alpert?

Richard knows, and he could answer this, as could perhaps one of the remaining band members (or Mr. Bettis, perhaps). But I doubt it's anything he/they care(s) to comment on. Fan minutia. I just found it interesting because I have worked for many years with talented, creative people (different field), and very rarely have I worked with anyone that slavishly copied or emulated another with no creative input or impact. I certainly didn't.

Not to go off-topic too far here, but while I have read a lot of interviews and articles and retrospectives etc. of the Carpenters, I do not remember reading much of what Richard thought of Karen's drumming. Her voice, yes; not so much the drums. Perhaps a more learned forum member might be able to point to something where he did.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Not to go off-topic too far here, but while I have read a lot of interviews and articles and retrospectives etc. of the Carpenters, I do not remember reading much of what Richard thought of Karen's drumming. Her voice, yes; not so much the drums. Perhaps a more learned forum member might be able to point to something where he did.
Richard has mentioned Karen's drumming a number of times in interviews and in print. Some examples below:

"She was a very good drummer" (BBC Radio 2 Documentary 1993)

"She had good wrists" (
VH1 Behind The Music 1997)

"It was like a metronome, her time"
(BBC Radio 2 Documentary 1993)

"As great a drummer as she was, she really considered herself a drummer who sang" (Close To You: Remembering The Carpenters 1997)
 

David A

Well-Known Member
Richard has mentioned Karen's drumming a number of times in interviews and in print. Some examples below:

"She was a very good drummer" (BBC Radio 2 Documentary 1993)

"She had good wrists" (
VH1 Behind The Music 1997)

"It was like a metronome, her time"
(BBC Radio 2 Documentary 1993)

"As great a drummer as she was, she really considered herself a drummer who sang" (Close To You: Remembering The Carpenters 1997)
Thanks newvillefan, much appreciated!
 
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