June 17, 1943– Barry Manilow
He Made It Through The Rain To Sing The Songs The Whole World Sings On June 17th.
Today marks the birthday of Barry Alan Pincus of Brooklyn. He wrote a whole bunch of songs and along the way sold over 100 million records, working as writer, producer, arranger or conductor. He is up there with Streisand, Sinatra, Springsteen, and Michael Jackson.
In 1978, he had five albums on the best-seller charts simultaneously. He has a Tony Award, Grammy Award, and Emmy Award on his trophy shelf. He has been voted into The Songwriters Hall Of Fame.
Maybe Manilow will never be ready to take a chance again. But, during a 2004 concert in NYC, just as he started to sing a duet with fabulous Broadway star, Brian d’Arcy James, Manilow joked to the audience: “Of course, we’re not going to sing it to each other… that would be creepy.”
His own website conveniently omits the fact that he began his career in a gay bathhouse, even though he has admitted ripping off his tuxedo and jumping into the pool at the Continental Baths with a bevy of nude gay men. He blames losing his inhibitions on the drinks and joints that had been passed to him. Manilow:
“That’s such a bit of misinformation. There was just the single bathhouse called the Continental Bathhouse and I worked there for just two weekends with Bette Midler… and that was it. I accompanied her for those two weekends there and then we went on to a lot of nightclubs around NYC, Chicago and LA and she exploded like a year later. So it really wasn’t ‘gay bathhouses.’ I don’t know where that came from.”
On the plus side, Manilow did cancel an appearance on The View because of pretty, charming Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s ultra-conservative stances. Manilow:
“I strongly disagree with her views, I think she’s dangerous & offensive. I will not be on the same stage as her.” When Manilow was being honored in Palm Springs for his AIDS awareness efforts, he stated: “I’ve had four personal assistants in my career since the 1970s, and three out of the four have died of AIDS. My personal assistants have always become my best friends. They are my brothers.”
I also like that Manilow once complained that when Ronnie and Nancy Reagan became his neighbors in Bel-Air:
“I thought it was pretty hot, but the secret service was all over the place. I always know when they are coming home because of all the helicopters. If I am out there sunbathing in the nude, I go, shit, the Reagans are coming home.”
When Elizabeth Taylor asked him the early 1980s for help raising money to fight the disease he was there. Manilow:
“Her friend Rock Hudson had died. She was the first one to try to make the public aware of this disease that was infecting everybody, and she was throwing a big dinner party. She called her entertainer friends, and they all turned her down. I don’t know why. But I got the call and said, ‘Of course.’ But my band wasn’t around. I just went there and played piano and sang for a good hour. It was the first one she had, and it was the first time I had ever done anything like that.”
Not denying his considerable musical gifts and power as a popular entertainer, I have never been, nor do I suspect that I will ever be a Fanalow. Even with my egalitarian and all-encompassing musical tastes, I never did find myself on the Manilow journey.
The closest to an exception was when I was working for ASCAP (American Society Of Composers, Authors And Publishers) in NYC, circa mid-1970s. I was engaged in listening to six hours of commercial radio play and entrusted to identify all the music recorded: commercials, bridges, lead-ins, cues and songs. I would not listen to songs all the way through. I was paid a bonus for finishing more than the six hour tape. Yet, I was very taken with a certain radio hit. I knew the song in the first three notes, but I would listen all the way through. I began to think it would be an effective ballad in my own act. The song was Weekend In New England sung by Barry Manilow.
I think it is unfortunate that Manilow suffered from the same fear of fan rejection as Liberace. It was just so nutty to read the accounts in the press of Manilow’s coming out of the closet last April, when I figured he had been out long ago. But, there he was at 73-years-old, flinging wide that closet door, finally talking about his marriage to his manager Garry Kief to the press. It would have been fun to have always had him be an out and proud gay man. Manilow:
“I’m so private. I always have been.”
The marriage to Kief, wasn’t his first, Manilow had first wed his high school sweetheart, Susan Deixler. Manilow:
“I was in love with Susan, I just was not ready for marriage. I was out making music every night, sowing my wild oats… I was too young. I wasn’t ready to settle down.”
He met Kief in 1978:
“I knew that this was it. I was one of the lucky ones. I was pretty lonely before that.”
Besides being Manilow’s manager, Kief is also the head of Barry Manilow Productions.
Manilow has lived with his manager Kief in homes they share in NYC, Bel Air and Palm Springs.
I was mixed-up about the public coming out because in April 2015, it was revealed that the longtime couple had married in a small private ceremony at their Palm Springs digs. Already a juicy story, the cherry on that gossip of a sundae: 1970s television star Suzanne Somers broke the story to our yummy Andy Cohen on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live!. Somers said that Manilow’s marriage to Kief was “freeing” for him. The story gets even better. It seems that Somers was Best Man at the wedding attended by about 50 close friends. Somers:
“Barry’s extremely, extremely private, and I think it was very difficult, and it’s very difficult for me to talk about because I want to do it with complete respect & love. He’s an awesome person. They’re both awesome people, and they’re my dearest friends. There’s Barry Manilow the performer, and then there’s the Barry ‘machine.’ It takes enormous savvy and know-how to book and market complicated arena tours, choreograph promotion, direct the entire team and make it look effortless, and that part is Garry’s domain. A major career takes two. Between them, there is enormous comfort and trust.”
As if getting married was not exciting enough for the always busy musical superstar, in 2014 he released Barry Manilow: My Dream Duets where Manilow sings along with 11 dead people including Whitney Huston and Judy Garland. That is just so wonderfully demented!
I am somewhat relived that he didn’t do that that long planned remake of Funny Lady.
Manilow says he’s not kidding about his current One Last Time! Tour. It will be his final concert tour, but, outside of Cher’s farewell tour. it may be the longest. He has booked dates through the end of 2018. By that time, we could have a new POTUS! Manilow:
“I’m trying to do as many of the well-known songs as I can, hardly any album cuts this time. I’m doing the longest show that I’ve done for a while. The last tour rehearsal we did was over two hours. I’m trying to get in as many of the big hits as I can. Hopefully people will remember them, but I’m going to do them anyway.”
Could It Be Magic?