By the time he began dating Karen Carpenter, Curb was an established force on the American contemporary music scene. He had produced Sammy Davis Jr.’s “The Candy Man” and Donny Osmond’s “Puppy Love” in 1972, which helped earn him Billboard’s Producer of the Year award.
Reached by phone last week, Curb said his sister, who is still president of the Curb company, introduced him to Karen. “She was so talented, so close to her brother. It seemed like every time I dated her, I dropped her off at the recording company — they recorded very late. ... When she would sing in the car, her voice was so soft you couldn’t hear it, but with a microphone, she was magical.”
The Curbs and Carpenters were a well-matched brother-and-sister combination in several respects, Curb said. He and Richard were both producers — “but he was definitely more talented than I was” — and the sisters were the same age, and shared the same concerning symptoms of anorexia.
Curb remembers taking Karen to Knott’s Berry Farm theme park because she liked the mashed potatoes and fried chicken there. “I would tell her, ‘If you don’t eat, I’m gonna drive you to Knott’s Berry Farm.’
“We dated for it seemed like a couple of years, then she went on a world tour, and I don’t know what happened ....” Still they remained good friends, and she spent her last Christmas Eve with the Curbs to celebrate his birthday.
“I get the shivers when I talk about her. She should still be alive, she should still be singing. My sister and I talk about her all the time, can’t get her out of our minds. She was so gifted. It’s so hard to understand how we’ve lost her.”