• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are now available. The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy can be ordered here. A big thanks to the authors and Richard Carpenter for their tremendous effort in compiling this book! Also, the new solo piano album Richard Carpenter's Piano Songbook is available for ordering here.

šŸŽ¤ Interview The "Third" Carpenter: A Conversation with John Bettis, Part 1


Active Member
Great job Chris! You are a super communicator. You're asking all the questions we want John to answer. Looking forward to part 2.


Well-Known Member
I've been counting the Bettis/Carpenter songs and I only find 34 (including An Old Fashioned Xmas and Yesterday Once More-Reprise). I wonder what the other 4 are. . . .? Maybe he's including the one's he wrote with others. . .Happy/Sailing on the Tide/Love Me For What I am. . . .that still leaves one, though.

P.S. Remember All of My Life and Don't be Afraid had lyrics by Richard.


Well-Known Member
Memory is tricky, at best! Time and place! I had a biology teacher, high school who, mr. Turlogh(spelling?). Questioned every answer; every thought. 31 or 32? Yes, no? What? Why? Again?! He questioned our resolve again and again. Our resolve! On the face of everything! Resolve! Conviction!


I Know My First Name Is Stephen
This is just so great to hear - thanks so much for the broadcast and posting it here. John Bettis never disappoints - he has amazing powers of recall and it's a joy to listen to him, he's a great storyteller! So looking forward to part 2, given the teasers we've had so far :popcorn:

Chris May

Resident ā€˜Carpenterologistā€™
Staff member
Thread Starter
Wanted to update everyone here regarding the remainder of my interview with John:

Part 2 airs tonight locally here in Palm Springs at 5:30. When I went back into the studio to finish editing the remainder of the interview, I realized I had close to a full hour's worth of additional, leftover dialogue following part 1, picking up where we left off in our discussion regarding Goodbye To Love, continuing on down thru the rest of the tunes. However, the conversation switched shortly thereafter into about a 30 minute discussion related to subject matter that was much more on the personal side of the Carpenters, to include Karen's solo album, the Randy Schmidt bio Little Girl Blue, the rumored song from Christmas of 1982 that was written and supposed to be played for Karen (which John claims "Has since been buried in the tragedy debris") and so on. I'm going to air the original 28:00, edited part 2 tonight for public radio. However the podcast of the show that becomes available later on for the fans will actually be the extended interview. I just want to make certain (as I'm sure Harry will do a fine job of) that the discussion regarding the personal details be discussed here with integrity. That's one value of our forum that tends to lack in many of the others. With that said, I will post a new thread that says "The Third Carpenter: A Conversation with John Bettis, Part 2 (Extended Interview).
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I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Waiting with baited breath Chris, it certainly sounds like the full part 2 will be an eye opener and a revelation to us fans! :)

Chris Mills

That was funny....like the dark vomited up
Finally got to listen to Part 1, loving these interviews, a lot of the info we already know, but what's great, is to hear John's interpretation of events, and he's a great story teller.

mr J.

Well-Known Member
I've been counting the Bettis/Carpenter songs and I only find 34 (including An Old Fashioned Xmas and Yesterday Once More-Reprise). I wonder what the other 4 are. . . .? Maybe he's including the one's he wrote with others. . .Happy/Sailing on the Tide/Love Me For What I am. . . .that still leaves one, though.

P.S. Remember All of My Life and Don't be Afraid had lyrics by Richard.
There's a few Carpenter/Bettis tracks from 1982.And,two Carpenter/Bettis tracks on Richard's solo album.
I'm a little late, but I loved the interview. It was nice to "get to know" John. I enjoyed hearing his stories.

Thanks for posting it here!


I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Hopefully, this Interview Video is still available,
John Bettis performs Top of The World,
RC Bannon interviews John Bettis

WOW! GaryAlan this is an absolute gem! I love to hear John talk and this is a great, insightful interview full of things I didn't already know about his relationship with Richard and Karen.

Welcome back - you've been missed!
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Well-Known Member
More John Bettis:
San Pedro high grad John Bettis inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame

By Donna Littlejohn Staff Writer
POSTED: 04/26/11,

John Bettis may not be a household name in the South Bay.
But catch a few lines of some of the hundreds of songs he's written through the years - among them,
the Carpenters' "Top of the World," the Pointer Sisters' "Slow Hand" and themes from "Growing Pains" and "Godfather III" - and listeners will be singing right along.

The man behind those and so many other familiar tunes, old and new alike, lives on a farm in Nashville with his wife and two children these days.
But he got his start in the Harbor Area, learning to play the trumpet at Vine's Music on Pacific Avenue and graduating from San Pedro High in 1964. He wrote his first song, "Lonely," for a girlfriend at Harbor College in Wilmington, and fell in love with the cultural diversity of music styles rolled out every year at San Pedro's old Fishermen's Fiestas.
On June 16, Bettis, 64 - who says he learned to write music on the wharfs "at Ports O' Call before there was a Ports O' Call" - will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York along with Garth Brooks, Leon Russell, the team of Billy Steinberg & Tom Kelly and Allen Tousaint.
"It's very overwhelming," Bettis said of the rare honor. "Alphabetically, my name will go right under Chuck Berry."
Established in 1969 to celebrate songwriting and encourage new talent, the Songwriters Hall of Fame now has some 400 members, including Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Sir Elton John, Loretta Lynn, James Brown, Isaac Hayes and Bruce Springsteen.

While his name might not be well known, Bettis has written songs that have sold more than 250 million records worldwide, performed by such luminaries as Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Madonna, Diana Ross and Whitney Houston.
The lyrics to "Just One Dream" that you hear every time you walk into Disneyland's California Adventure Park?

The inspirational "One Moment in Time," the Emmy-winning theme for the 1988 Olympics?
That's one of his, too.

Bettis began studying music at age 8 when his mother signed him up for trumpet lessons at Vine's in downtown San Pedro.
"For some reason, I just understood the instrument," he said.

In a few years, he was playing competitively, later learning to play guitar at San Pedro High School, where he was class president and played the lead role in the school musical "Carousel."
It was during rehearsals for that production that he fell in love with the idea of writing music.
"I looked down at the score I had to learn - written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein - and saw how the words and music went together," he said. "Something was triggered in me, it's mysterious to this day. But I wanted to do that."

A friendship and collaboration with brother-and-sister Richard and Karen Carpenter - the three met while students at California State University, Long Beach - proved providential.
Wanting to start a band, they needed money to buy amplifiers.
So Richard Carpenter, on piano, and Bettis, playing banjo, landed a summer job in 1967 playing turn-of-the-century tunes at Coke Corner on Disneyland's Main Street U.S.A.
"We were 20 years old, maybe, and full of ourselves," Bettis said.
"Disneyland had all these rules, you had to act a certain way, and Richard and I broke all the rules.
When we were supposed to be playing `Ain't She Sweet,' we were playing `Penny Lane' and `Light My Fire.'
So they rightfully, and deservedly, fired us."
The band formed by the Carpenter siblings from Downey and Bettis went under several names, including Spectrum.
"It was all the same people and we performed together for about two years," Bettis said.
It was during that time that Richard Carpenter (music) and Bettis (lyrics) wrote the original material that later was used on the Carpenters' first three records.
But before the brother-sister team formed as a duo, Bettis said they "literally got laughed out of offices and had tapes thrown at us" while trying to break into the business professionally.
"I learned a long time ago, thanks to Richard, that the gift I have is putting music and lyrics together," Bettis said.
Among the hits Bettis helped write for the Carpenters were "Top of the World," "Only Yesterday" and "Goodbye to Love".
Karen Carpenter died in 1983 from complications related to anorexia, but Richard Carpenter remains a good friend of Bettis.

His acceptance into the Songwriters Hall of Fame isn't his first honor.

Through the years, Bettis has been nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, three Grammys and three Emmys.

His song "Human Nature" was included in the historic album of the year in 1982: "Thriller," by Michael Jackson.

The album was almost finished when Jackson and producer Quincy Jones decided it needed one more song, a ballad.
Three songs were submitted and rejected.
Taking a melody written by Steve Porcaro - a member of the 1970s rock band Toto - that had caught the album producer's ear, Bettis wrote the lyrics virtually overnight. The two composers then took the song to the studio the next day, meeting with Jones and Jackson.
"We just literally sang the song for them and gave them the lyric sheets," Bettis said, calling Jackson an "immense" spirit. "Luckily, they embraced it immediately."
Jackson, he said, told him in an aside that the song was "perfect" for him.

In other awards, Bettis also received an Emmy for "One Moment in Time" in 1988 and for "Where There is Hope" in 2003.

His film work includes "Twilight Zone: The Movie," "Vision Quest," "Pure Country," "Cocktail" and "Star Trek V."
TV themes include those for "Murphy Brown" and "Nurses."

Many of the most gratifying moments in his career, Bettis said, have come when compositions are unexpectedly linked to inspirational historic events,
including the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour and the fall in 1989 of the Berlin Wall.

"Songs wind up being part of the culture, and they end up being expressed in some of the most unusual and uncanny ways," he said.

Bettis' current project is writing music for the Broadway musical "Josephine," scheduled tentatively to open in early May.

He's also rehearsing for the Songwriters Hall of Fame star-studded ceremony June 16 at the Marriott Marquis hotel in New York City.

He's set to perform one of his songs, most likely "Top of the World," Bettis said.

Source (complete article):

Chris May

Resident ā€˜Carpenterologistā€™
Staff member
Thread Starter
It's refreshing to listen to someone in the music business who is so talented speak so honestly. Cough: Hal Blaine : Cough :wink:

Hahaha! Just caught this comment. Hal is certainly a bit of a storyteller but I always overlook that due to his immense contribution to the records he played on. Long live Hal!!
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