He was born Barry Allen Pincus, on June 17, 1946., son of Edna Manilow and Harold Pincus and was raised in a slum section of Brooklyn called Williamsburg.
Barry, as an infant, couldn't have known that his housing section was poor financially, but his three basic needs were met: food, clothing, and shelter. It was a very simple life, and maybe even on some days, a sweet life. Unfortunately, when Barry was two, Harold Pincus abandoned his family, leaving his wife and in-laws to raise young Barry on their own.
As Barry grew older, it was the support, encouragement and devotion of the Manilow family that saw little Barry through what must have been a very difficult time. Soon, Barry Alan Pincus started using his mother's maiden name and became Barry Alan Manilow and a new chapter of Barry's life would begin to unfold. The family bought a piano and Barry found a distraction from the harsh reality of the cold streets of Brooklyn.
Throughout his years at Brooklyn's Eastern District High School , Manilow played at small local gigs and after graduation attended New York's Julliard School Of Music. Barry married his high school sweetheart, Susan. The marriage lasted about a year and the experience was so emotionally shattering for Barry that he has never married since.
It was 1971 and Barry was busying himself playing piano at Manhattan's Improv on West 44th Street and also at the Continental Baths. One day while rehearsing at home he received an unexpected phone call. Bette Midler was scheduled to play the Baths the following weekend and wanted Barry to play for her. Barry had seen Bette perform on TV the previous week and thought her to be a little flashy but enthusiastic. When Bette phoned and demanded an extra rehearsal, Barry was not surprised. The moment she walked into his apartment, they fought. Styles clashed between Barry the musician and Bette the showgirl, full of herself. Both growing entertainers had their dreams and what they wanted in mind. Barry was comfortable at the piano but at this point in his career was not interested in singing, even though he had a half decent voice. Bette, on the other hand, was very different. She went for garter belts, peddle pushers, and exaggerated wardrobes, which worked at the time. She had a decent voice, an act that she polished every so often, and grand ideas for Barry's future. Today, Barry refers to her as being ahead of her time. She hired him as her piano player, conductor, and arranger. This all coincides with him later becoming her musical director.
The dynamic duo answered the call of the road. Bette had put together enough $1,500/per night shows to support a tour. It wasn't the kind of tour that she and Barry would come to know later. This was a throw-what-you've-got-together tour. This meant Bette and Barry would gather all they had and put it into a van and go to cities like Philadelphia, Washington and Boston; places they could drive to overnight. At the time, it sounded great.
As her popularity grew, Bette got an appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson and was asked back for a couple of return spots. By this time, Bette had managed to get herself and her band a few dates at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas by April of 1972. This wasn't her best audience, but her reviews were looking favorable.
When they returned to Manhattan at the end of Bette's tour, they were able to get a gig at a club called, "The Bitter End." Bette was hot at this well-known club, unlike the ones she had played before. Now that she had returned to New York she could spend more time working on her album and along with Barry, they decided to rent out Carnegie Hall. This was a huge financial risk but soon discovered how well it would pay off. Bette Midler at Carnegie Hall with Barry Manilow as music director on Friday, June 23, 1972 ... SOLD OUT .
Barry took to the stage, being struck in the face by the spotlights for the first time. This was Bette's first legitimate concert. The audience response was wild and out of control. Starting off with "Friends," neither Bette nor Barry could get over the way Bette and her act was received. He was well-noted as the conductor and pianist for her concert. Barry was allowed by Bette to take a few minutes after a break in the acts to present some of his original music. This was a gracious offer on Bette's part. Barry would have the opportunity to sing some of his first romantic songs in front of a live audience. Barry performed three songs with the band, one of them being, "Sweet Life." The reaction from the crowd was more than polite.
With a little bow he was back to the piano to play Bette's entrance but the crowd would not have it. The audience simply, literally, could not or would not stop applauding him. Shocked, he stood up again from the piano. Then the yelling began. He wasn't sure what was going on over the footlights and he soon concluded, to his astonishment, that people were moving to the edge of the stage. What he figured was a group returning to their seats, was in fact, Barry Manilow's first standing ovation. No one was more surprised than Barry. Bette's band and crew were absolutely floored. Nobody had thought, up to this point, that a six foot, skinny guy could swoon women. Barry had done it. Barry alone had STOPPED the show! This was just a hint of what was to come later. Barry has said in various interviews that he had gotten his own little slice of the pie, and though it was small, it was his.
Barry let his heart lead him into making a demo tape of original songs durinf a "rest" period in New York. Barry recorded "Sweet Life," "I Am Your Child," and "Sweetwater Jones" along with a few others. Barry decided to do all the tracks himself. He pounded the pavement carefully to find a record business contact. Soon enough he met and befriended Clive Davis, current president of Arista Records. Davis had worked for CBS and had a functioning record label, Bell Records. Davis also had a very good sense of star potential and had faith in Barry's music. Somehow he knew that Barry would be very valuable to him. The first Barry Manilow album was ready for the market by the end of the summer of 1973. The album would be released the first week of September. In the interim Davis had signed to his label, Melissa Manchester and Ron Dante along with Barry Manilow.
The thrill of a standing ovation and a new album listed in Billboard Magazine with his face on the cover was a real boost to Barry's career and his ego. The airplay Barry received in correlation to his "live" promotion of the "Barry Manilow 1" album was very respectable when he appeared with Bette Midler and an enthusiastic audience.
To help add to his experience and credentials, Barry wanted credit as producer of Bette's album. After all, he had worked closely with Bette helping polish her musical style and working the songs to fit her unique personality. Another success was had, for Bette earned a Grammy and a Tony for this album. By this time, Bette's energy from past tours and promoting her latest album left her exhausted. In the spring of 1974 Bette's tour was complete and she went to Paris to recover. Barry was, for the first time, on his own.
During production of Barry's second album, "Barry Manilow 2" Bell Records changed ownership and became Arista. Along with Arista came it's new president, Clive Davis. Barry was getting a little nervous because Clive was dropping almost everyone on the new label. Would he make it with Arista? He had to prove to Clive that this second album was worthy of its new label. Barry got to work.
The crowds wanted Barry and his music but they wanted "commercial" hits. Barry was a songwriter and was surprised when Clive Davis asked him to record a song that had previously been a UK hit for its co-writer Scott English, called 'Brandy.' It was at this point when frustration set in. He wrestled with this cute, "up-beat" song for hours and couldn't make it work. Finally he tried it as a slow ballad, and another hit was born. The title "Brandy" was changed to "Mandy", to avoid confusion with a song already using that name, by a group called " Looking Glass."
"Barry Manilow 2" went double-platinum, "Mandy" sold 4 million singles and the album itself sold 1,600,000 copies. This great success boosted his first album to the platinum mark. His second hit from this album "It's A Miracle " stayed on the Adult Contemporary charts for months.
Hit after hit followed, including the number one single "Looks Like We Made It," as well as Top Tens "Could It Be Magic," "Copacabana and "I Made It Through the Rain. Manilow became a popular live act during this time and played to sold out concerts throughout the world. Strangely enough, the song that became his 'theme song', "I Write the Songs" was actually written by Bruce Johnson of the Beach Boys.
As the hits piled up, music critics never let up on Barry Manilow. Brutal attacks on his sweet sounding balads hurt Manilow deeply, but his legions of fans flocked to his concerts. At one point, country singer Ray Stevens went so far as to make fun of Manilow on a single of his own entitled, "Here's To You Barry Manilow". Although Manilow's fragile ego needed support, he continued with the style he knew best, the love song , and now the 51-year-old entertainer is the undisputed number one adult contemporary artist of all time, scoring a whopping 25 consecutive Top 40 hits.
By the mid-'80s, he decided to broaden his musical horizons by making records of jazz and pop standards, recording with Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme and many other great jazz artists on an album called "Singing with the Big Bands". At the end of the decade, the widow of famed song writter Johnny Mercer invited him to set music to a number of unpublished lyrics. Manilow continued in a similar vein on Another Life (1995), before he made the nostalgia-drenched Summer of '78 in 1996
Barry wrapped up the "Reminiscing Tour" in early 1998, traveling throughout England and took a well deserved rest.
Lately, Barry completed ,"Harmony", a stage production written and produced by himself and Bruce Sussman, which opened "live-on-stage" in the Spring of 1999.
Also in production is "Manilow Sings Sinatra", a tribute to Frank Sinatra. Due out in the United States November 10, 1999. Barry has selected a few of Mr. Sinatra's favorites and is recording them in his own classic style.
Barry Manilow may be the only successful recording artist of the '70s who hasn't benefited from "retro chic". Though other critically reviled acts of the era – everybody from ABBA to Kiss to the Carpenters – have been embraced by contemporary alt-rockers, poor Manilow is still considered by critics to be irredeemably square.The closest he has come to hip credibility in the last 20 years was when "Daybreak" was included on the soundtrack to the 1994 John Waters movie Serial Mom.
What many of his detractors fail to consider, is that long after many of his contemporaries have left the business, Barry Manilow contiunes to record and sell out concerts wherever he performs.
DISCOGRAPHY (Singles) :
1.) 1971 "Amy "
2.) 1971 "Could It Be Magic
3.) 1973 "Sweetwater Jones
4.) 1973 "Could It Be Magic"
5.) 1974 "Let's Take Some Time To Say Goodbye"
6.) 1974 "Mandy"
7.) 1975 "It's A Miracle"
8.) 1975 "Could It Be Magic"
9.) 1975 "I Write The Songs"
10.) 1976 "Tryin' To Get The Feeling Again"
11.) 1976 "This One's For You"
12.) 1976 "Weekend In New England"
13.) 1977 "Looks Like We Made It"
14.) 1977 "Daybreak"
15.) 1977 "It's Just Another New Year's Eve"
16.) 1978 "Can't Smile Without You"
17.) 1978 "Even Now"
18.) 1978 "Copacabana"
19.) 1978 "Ready To Take A Chance Again"
20.) 1978 "Somewhere In The Night"
21.) 1979 "Ships"(That pass in the night)
22.) 1979 "When I Wanted You"
23.) 1980 "I Don't Want To Walk Without You"
24.) 1980 "Bermuda Triangle"
25.) 1980 "I Made It Through The Rain"
26.) 1981 "Lonely Together"
27.) 1981 "The Old Songs"
28.) 1981 "Somewhere Down The Road"
29.) 1981-2 "Nickels And Dimes"
30.) 1982 "Let's Hang On"
31.) 1982 "Oh Julie"
32.) 1982 "Memory"
33.) 1983 "Some Kind Of Friend"
34.) 1983 "Read 'Em And Weep"
35.) 1984 "Put A Quarter In The Jukebox" (Duet with Ronnie Milsap)
36.) 1984 "When October Goes"
37.) 1985 "Paradise Cafe"
38.) 1985 "Run To Me" (Duet with Dionne Warwick)
39.) 1985 "In Search Of Love"
40.) 1986 "He Doesn't Care"
41.) 1986 "I'm Your Man"
42.) 1988 "Hey Mambo"
43.) 1989 "Keep Each Other Warm"
44.) 1989 "The One That Got Away"
45.) 1990 "If You Remember Me"
46.) 1990 "Because It's Christmas"
47.) 1992 "Another Life"
48.) 1993 "Could It Be Magic 1993"
49.) 1993 "If Tomorrow Never Comes"
50.) 1994 "Let Me Be Your Wings"
51.) 1996 "Bluer Than Blue"
52.) 1997 "I'd Really Love To See You Tonight"
53.) 1997 "I Go Crazy"
54.) 1997 "Sometimes When We Touch"