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Vintage Video #1's: The Carpenters Take a Leon Russell Song to the Top

by VVN Music

On this day 46 years ago (October 9, 1971), Karen and Richard Carpenter took "Superstar" to the top of the Adult Contemporary charts.

"Superstar" was written by Leon Russell and Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett and was originally called "Groupie Song".  It's title changed to "Groupie (Superstar)" for its first recorded release as the b-side of the Delaney & Bonnie & Friends Featuring Eric Clapton single "Comin' Home".

Early in 1970, the song was sung by Rita Coolidge during the Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tour and was included on the live album documenting the tour, this time under the name "Superstar".

Bette Midler also gave the song early exposure when she sang it on The Tonight Show during one of her earliest appearances in 1970 although she wouldn't record it until her 1972 debut, The Divine Miss M.

It was on that Tonight Show appearance that Richard Carpenter first heard the song.  Carpenter quickly arranged the song, changed a couple of lyrics to make it more Carpenter-friendly, and went in the studio to cut the track. While Karen was the drummer for the group, Hal Blaine sat in for the recording.

The single went to number 2 on the Hot 100 but topped the Adult Contemporary tally for two weeks.

The top five Adult Contemporary singles on October 9, 1971:
  1. Superstar - Carpenters
  2. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down - Joan Baez
  3. So Far Away / Smackwater Jack - Carole King
  4. Never My Love - 5th Dimension
  5. Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again) - Kris Kristofferson