Lead Sister: The Story of Karen Carpenter (Hardback)
  • Lead Sister: The Story of Karen Carpenter (Hardback)
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Lead Sister: The Story of Karen Carpenter (Hardback)

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£22.00
Hardback 368 Pages
Published: 02/03/2023
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Meticulously researched and compassionate, O'Brien's definitive biography of the legendary Karen Carpenter presents a rounded portrait of a hugely talented yet troubled pop star.

When the Carpenters first toured Japan, a journalist mistakenly referred to Karen as the 'lead sister' of the band. This designation stuck and Karen liked it so much that she had a T-shirt custom-made with the slogan, which she wore while drumming on the band's 1976 world tour. The term also sums up the approach of this biography: a celebratory re-evaluation of a pioneering woman.

As one of the biggest-selling acts of the 1970s, sibling duo Richard and Karen Carpenter created lush soundscapes of melodic pop, producing global hits like 'We've Only Just Begun', 'Top of the World' and 'Close to You'. However, though Karen is rightly recognised as one of the greatest singers in popular music, the tragedy of her early death in 1983, at the age of just thirty-two, often overshadows all that she achieved. She has long been portrayed as a victim, controlled by her family and exploited by the music industry.

This book now seeks to reframe her life and legacy.

Through fresh interviews with friends, musicians and co-workers, bestselling author Lucy O'Brien's fascinating profile explores Karen's contributions in the studio as a singer, drummer, arranger and producer, as well as tracing the roots of the Carpenters' sound and of Karen's distinctive vocals. Forty years after her death, it also honours the lead sister's achievements in the face of her struggle with anorexia, as viewed through the lens of new perspectives on eating disorders and mental health.

Yet, despite the chronic nature of her illness, Karen Carpenter was, above all, a creative, dedicated and assured artist whose music delivers an emotional resonance that has transcended generations - and that is how she should be remembered.

Publisher: Bonnier Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781788708241
Number of pages: 368
Weight: 592 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 34 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

'A compelling, compassionate read.' - Record Collector

'A fascinating but tragic story.' 4/5 - Mojo

'An important book for readers interested in the history of women in rock and a necessary one for Carpenters fans.' - Booklist

'A book that dares to challenge orthodoxy and rewrites the story of the Carpenters. Lucy O'Brien brings a sparkling feminism to a remarkable pop act.' - Stuart Cosgrove

'(A) detailed, definitive and deeply empathetic portrait.' - Jim Irvin (Mojo Magazine)

'O'Brien has succeeded in repositioning Karen Carpenter as something considerably more than just a haunted figure.' - Bob Stanley

'Bravo to one of the all-time best authors of our time: O'Brien delivers again. Just when you think we could not learn anything else about a pop icon, Lead Sister (re)introduces Carpenter as a multi-dimensional, inspiring, complicated human. For too long, she has been canonised as a sugary yet tragic icon; O'Brien removes the shackles of simplified myth to expose the innovator and trailblazer while bravely examining the layered complications of family, fame, mental health and desire. I could not put it down.' - Jennifer Otter Bickerdike

'In Lead Sister, O'Brien gives us Karen Carpenter the consummate musician, master of at least two instruments and a range of production techniques, the fun, funny companion - to both friends and bandmates - and the fully complex woman.' - Dr Lisa Gee

'An insightful and sensitive biography that reframes Karen Carpenter as a supremely talented musician, who created great songs while struggling with a devastating illness. O'Brien colours in the era beautifully, explaining the trends in popular music, fashion and feminism, as well as describing the unique dynamic within the Carpenter family and how it contributed to Karen's illness. I found it incredibly moving and a worthy tribute to an extraordinary woman.' - Gill Paul

8/10 - Uncut

'Empathetic in tone and unsparing in detail...O'Brien's Karen emerges as a smart but naive woman enslaved by both her disease and the expectations of those around her. She should have been treated better: Lead Sister treats her well indeed.' - iNews

'This may well become the definitive biography of Carpenter.' - Library Journal

'Heartbreaking.' - Daily Mail

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“For All Music Fans! x”

Growing up with the Carpenter, I had to get this, and I don't regret it! x What an honest telling of Karen Carpenter and all her influence and mental struggles. I am happy that this book tried to put her back in... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 12

“For Music Lovers”

Lucy O’Brien’s Lead Sister: The Story of Karen Carpenter has rewarded music lovers with a long overdue in-depth, well written and expertly researched book on the multitalented and much missed Karen Carpenter.... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 11

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