June 17, 1943– 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 & along the way sold over 80 million records, working as writer, producer, arranger or conductor, up there with Streisand, Sinatra, Springsteen, & Michael Jackson. In 1978, he had 5 albums on the best-seller charts simultaneously. He has a Tony, Grammy, & Emmy on his awards shelf & he has been voted in to The Songwriters Hall Of Fame.
Maybe Barry 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, despite the fact that he has admitted ripping off his tuxedo & jumping into the Continental Baths‘ pool with a bevy of nude gay men. He blames losing his inhibitions on the drinks & 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 & I worked there for 2 weekends with Bette Midler & that was it. I accompanied her for 2 weekends there & then we went on to a lot of nightclubs around NYC, Chicago & LA & 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 canceled an appearance on The View because of 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 4 personal assistants in my career since the 1970s, & 3 out of the 4 have died of AIDS. My personal assistants have always become my best friends. They are my brothers.”
Manilow once complained that when Ronnie & 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, & she was throwing a big dinner party. She called her entertainer friends, & they all turned her down. I don’t know why. But I got the call & said, ‘Of course.’ But my band wasn’t around. I just went there & played piano & sang for a good hour. It was the first one she had, & it was the first time I had ever done anything like that.”
Not denying his considerable musical gifts & power as a popular entertainer, I have never been, nor do I suspect that I will ever be a Fanalow. Even with my egalitarian & 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 & Publishers) in NYC, circa mid-1970s. I was engaged in listening to 6 hours of commercial radio play & entrusted to identify all the music recorded: commercials, bridges, lead-ins, cues & songs. I would not listen to songs all the way through. I was paid a bonus for finishing more than the 6 hour tape. Yet, I was very taken with a certain radio hit. I knew the song in the first 3 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 suffers from the same fear of fan rejection as Liberace. It would have been fun to have him be an out & proud gay man. For 30 years, Manilow has lived with his manager Garry Kief in homes they share in NYC, Bel Air & Palm Springs.
This spring 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 sundae- 1970s TV star Suzanne Somers broke the story to 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, & I think it was very difficult, & 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, & they’re my dearest friends.”
As if getting married is not exciting enough for the always busy musical superstar, this past October he released Barry Manilow: My Dream Duets in which Manilow sings along with 11 dead people including Whitney Huston & Judy Garland. Could It Be Magic?