Forty years ago, Karen Carpenter died of heart failure from anorexia at the age of 32. She was the other half of the soft-rock sibling duo The Carpenters, having a dulcet voice that earned her a spot as one of the greatest vocalists of all time. However, aside from being a singer, Karen was also a talented drummer and percussionist— only true music nerds knew this side of her. Legendary percussionist Sheila E. and Jazz-trained drummer Cindy Blackman Santana expressed to Yahoo! Entertainment that Karen’s drumming prowess was not acknowledged or amplified enough. She doubled as a vocalist and the band drummer for The Carpenters, singing from behind the drums, especially early on. Karen Carpenter’s Music Career KAREN CARPENTER Karen’s career started with her brother, Richard, who formed the Dick Carpenter Trio with himself, Karen, and his college buddy Wes Jacobs. Karen did not start as a singer but played the drums for the band. Richard, who was impressed with his sister’s skills, commended Karen, saying she could “speedily maneuver the sticks as if she had been born in a drum factory.” RELATED: The Untold Truth Of Karen Carpenter After The Carpenters was formed, the group was encouraged to make Karen the lead singer after their 1969 debut album for A&M Records, where she played most of the drums. She reluctantly accepted the offer and drummed less than before. Sheila E. And Cindy Blackman Speak On Their Inspiration, Karen The Carpenters, Karen Carpenter, ca. 1980s In an interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, Sheila pointed people to YouTube clips from the Carpenters’ NBC variety series to watch Karen behind the drums, as most people only regard her as a singer and nothing beyond. “I don’t know how that slipped by a lot of people. I mean, I always say it when people ask me about who my first influence was, or about other women who played drums: The first person I always think of is Karen Carpenter,” Sheila said. Sheila revealed that as a young girl, Karen “was the first woman” she saw playing the drums. “…’ There’s a girl playing the drums just like me, and she has a brother! How come we don’t have a TV show?’” Sheila recalled what she told her dad about seeing Karen play for the first time. Sheila, who is a member of the famous Escovedo musical family, finds it surprising that people did not know about Karen’s percussion skills. “Like, how could you not know that Karen Carpenter was an incredible drummer?” a surprised Sheila said. On the other hand, Cindy only became recently aware that Karen was an excellent drummer. “I’m just feeling remorseful for her that her drumming was not given more attention— the attention it deserved,” Cindy said. “But I did happen to see a couple of years ago a video of her playing, and I was like, ‘Whoa, girl has some chops!’ She obviously put some time in on the drums, and I respect that.” Karen’s Battle With Body Insecurity And Eating Disorder The Carpenters, from left: Richard Carpenter, Karen Carpenter, 1971. photo: Raphael/TV Guide/Courtesy Everett Collection Karen had a small frame that made her “look hidden” behind the drums; however, when she became the focal point of the band, her appearance received a lot of public scrutiny that made her insecure and tampered with her self-esteem. “It’s unfortunate that her low self-esteem, how she saw herself and the pressure of being out in the front and maybe not wanting to do that, took a toll on her. Some people aren’t built to do that. I understand the pressure of it, for sure,” Sheila said, sharing her thoughts on Karen’s insecurities. “I think that for her to come out front and sing must have felt awkward. I know from me singing, I like to be behind the drums; it’s my safe space. So, I can only imagine that it was probably like that for her too,” Cindy added. On the morning of February 4th, 1983, Karen eventually died of a heart attack brought about by the physiological strain on her system due to her battle with anorexia nervosa.