Barry Alan Pincus - June 17, 1943, Brooklyn, New York. He later adopted his mother's maiden name Manilow as his legal surname.
Education and Early Career:
Barry Manilow began playing the piano as a young child. After graduating from high school, he was accepted as a student at the Juilliard School of Music. Following his years as a student, Barry Manilow began writing theme music for television shows and commercials. He became one of the most successful ad jingle writers. "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there," "I am stuck on Band-Aid," and McDonald's "You deserve a break today" were among his major successes.
Barry Manilow and Bette Midler:
In 1971 Barry Manilow met Bette Midler. She hired him as her pianist, arranger, and musical director. He accompanied her as she performed and gained a strong following from men attending New York City's notorious gay bathhouses. Barry Manilow produced her first two albums and had the opportunity to introduce some of his own music at her 1972 concert at Carnegie Hall.
Barry Manilow's Top 10 Pop Singles:
- I Write the Songs - #1 1975
- Looks Like We Made It - #1 1977
- Mandy - #1 1974
- Can't Smile Without You - #3 1978
- Could It Be Magic - #6 1975
- Copacabana (At the Copa) - #8 1978
- Somewhere in the Night - #9 1979
- Ships - #9 1979
- Weekend in New England - #10 1977
- I Made It Through the Rain - #10 1980
Barry Manilow released his first, self-titled, solo album in 1973 on Bell Records. It did not sell well, but as Bell evolved into Arista, the label head, Clive Davis, suggested Manilow record a song called "Brandy" for his second album Barry Manilow II. The song's name was changed to "Mandy" to avoid conflict with an earlier hit single by another artist, and it became Barry Manilow's first #1 hit. Clive Davis also steered another song, "I Write the Songs," to Barry Manilow in 1975.
Quote From Barry Manilow:
Speaking about his fans to WGN-TV:
"Some of them have been with me from the beginning and I can't say 'thank you' enough because I look out in the audience and I see faces that I recognize. And some of those faces were standing out in that rain. I don't even know an artist that I would do that for. It just amazes me that they're still with me."
Fading Pop Success:
By 1980 Barry Manilow had racked up 10 top 10 pop hit singles including 3 #1's, but his ballad-heavy pop music was falling out of style. One last top 10, "I Made It Through the Rain," peaked in early 1981. 7 more top 20 hits appeared in the next 3 years, but he has failed to reach the top 40 since 1983's "Read 'Em and Weep." Instead of ending his career, Barry Manilow has responded by diversifying his musical palette.
Jazz, Swing, and Pop Standards:
Through the latter part of the 1980's and much of the 1990's Barry Manilow has recorded albums of swing (1987's Swing Street), original jazz (1984's 2:00 A.M. Paradise Cafe), and pop standards (1998's Manilow Sings Sinatra). Throughout this period he remained one of the most consistently successful concert attractions. He received Grammy Award nominations for his jazz and pop standard work. The 1986 TV-Movie based on "Copacabana" received 2 Emmy Awards.
Barry Manilow Trivia Fact:
Ron Dante, the uncredited voice of the Archies on their huge hit "Sugar Sugar," was co-producer of all of Barry Manilow's 1970's albums.
Barry Manilow's Resurgence and a #1 Hit Album:
As the new century began, Barry Manilow began seeking greater visibility. He recorded the critically acclaimed Here at the Mayflower album for jazz label Concord Records in 2001. The next year he performed "Let Freedom Ring" at the Super Bowl pre-game show with all-star support including Yolanda Adams, James Ingram, Wynonna, and Patti LaBelle. Barry Manilow was introduced to a new generation of music fans as a guest judge for American Idol in 2004. Following a farewell tour, he opened a standing show at the Las Vegas Hilton in 2005.
The biggest step back into the public spotlight came when Barry Manilow returned to recording with his long-term mentor, Clive Davis. After the surprising #3 album chart debut of the career-spanning collection Ultimate Manilow in 2002, it became apparent that Barry Manilow still had a loyal audience willing to buy his music. The new project became a collection of classic tunes from the 1950's. It was released in early 2006 as The Greatest Songs of the Fifties and promptly debuted at #1 on the album chart becoming only the second #1 album of Barry Manilow's career. The first was his 1977 Barry Manilow Live album. He continued in the spotlight with another round of service as guest judge on American Idol, release of a DVD of the Vegas show, and re-releases of 3 early albums with previously unreleased songs attached.
Barry Manilow's success with cover versions of classic songs continued through four more albums. The final collection, The Greatest Love Songs Of All Time, received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Traditional Pop Album. Barry Manilow concluded his five years at the Las Vegas Hilton in December 2009. He began a new show in March 2010 at the Paris Hotel on the Las Vegas strip. Barry Manilow's album 15 Minutes, his first collection of all new songs in 10 years, was released in June 2011.