February 6, 2009

Karen and Mickey Sing Together?

No, not Mickey Mouse! Mickey Jones, a singer.
. An interesting find...
(Thank you to Mickey Jones for his kind assistance.)
Karen's "other" Magic Lamp single.

For a while now, there has been some speculation stating Karen Carpenter might have provided backing vocals for another artist's single in 1966. Magic Lamp records, which was owned by prominent west coast bassist Joe Osborn, signed Karen Carpenter as a solo vocalist in 1966. With Joe's engineering assistance, they produced 2 songs: Looking for Love, and I'll Be Yours (both written and arranged by Richard).The Magic Lamp label only lasted 12 months, but during this time Joe Osborn also produced several other artists. One of these was a young drummer named Mickey Jones. His single I Can't Live Without You, is a catchy 'Beatles-meets-Beach Boys' kind of harmonious fast paced 60's pop song. It is rather difficult to hear all but the lead vocal. The 45 states the artists were 'Mickey Jones and the Triumphs'. The rumours claim that Karen Carpenter was the actual backup singer, and there were no 'Triumphs'. Until now, that is all this was- a rumour. I now have confirmation from Mickey Jones himself that Karen did indeed provide backup vocals for his 1966 single. My assumption is that she recorded this in the few weeks between the time she met Joe Osborn, and when she was signed to Magic Lamp under her own name. Here is what Mickey has to say on the subject:

"I can tell you the whole story. Joe Osborn produced that record, 'I Can Live Without You' and yes Karen is singing as a backup singer on the session. As I'm sure you know, Joe Osborn found Karen Carpenter and signed her to her first recording contract. He did not want Richard, and in fact Joe would not let Richard in the studio when he was recording Karen. Joe finally sold his contract to Herb Alpert and the rest is history".

So there we are, official confirmation! If you're lucky enough to own a copy of this single, hang on to it. I've seen it sell from between US $90- $250. Moreover, it's a very interesting piece of Carpenters history for completist collectors. One can only wonder why Karen's involvement was never documented anywhere.....


Miranda said...

Thanks for posting my article to spread the word :).


Mark Taft said...

My pleasure! Your site is filled with interesting stuff!