“I am a musician. My passion for music has obliterated everything in its path for my entire life. Whenever there was a choice between music and anything else, music won hands down every time. No one person or material thing could ever come close to the feeling I get when the music is right.” Barry Manilow
Grammy Award winning American pop singer, songwriter, composer, musician, producer, conductor, entertainer and performer Barry Manilow first came to public attention in the early 1970s thanks to his partnership with Bette Midler. Starting out as a mailman at CBS before making money from advertising jingles, the Brooklyn native made his recording debut in 1973 with “Barry Manilow I” and gained a commercial breakthrough with his third album, “Tryin' to Get the Feeling” (1975), which went triple platinum. It was followed by triple platinum releases with “This One's for You” (1976), “Even Now” (1978) and “Greatest Hits” (1978), the double platinum album “One Voice” (1979) and a series of platinum albums, beginning with “Barry” (1980). “Barry Manilow Live” (1977) brought the adult contemporary and pop singer even bigger commercial success when it scored quadruple platinum status by selling over four million pieces. The album also became his first to reach the top spot on the Billboard 200. Nearly three decades later, he scored an additional No. 1 pop hit album with “The Greatest Songs of the Fifties” (2006). Throughout the early 1970s to early 1980s, Manilow released many popular singles, including “Mandy” (#1 on the US Hot 100 and US AC), “It's a Miracle” (#1 US AC), “I Write the Songs” (#1 on the US Hot 100 and US AC), “Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again” (#1 US AC), “Weekend in New England” (#1 US AC), “Looks Like We Made It” (#1 on the US Hot 100 and US AC), “Can't Smile Without You” (#1 US AC), “The Old Songs” (#1 US AC), “Somewhere Down the Road” (#1 US AC) and “Read 'Em and Weep” (#1 US AC). He also released the popular disco song “Copacabana” (1978), from which he received a Grammy Award. Based on the song, Manilow created a TV musical in 1985 called “Copacabana,” where he also played the lead role of Tony Starr. Manilow was a headliner at the Las Vegas Hilton from February 2005 to December 2009 and is scheduled to be a headliner at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas in March 2010.
In a career that has spanned nearly fifty years, Manilow has collected many awards and citations in addition to his Grammy. He won Emmy Awards for his TV specials “The Barry Manilow Special” (ABC, 1977) and “Barry Manilow: Music and Passion” (PBS, 2006) and a Special Tony Award for “Barry Manilow on Broadway” (1977). He was handed three consecutive American Music Awards for Best Pop/Rock Male Artist from 1978 to 1980. In 2002, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He also has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording. In 2009, he received the Honorary Award from the Clio Awards.
Childhood and Family:
Barry Alan Pincus was born on June 17, 1943, in New York City, New York, to Harold Pincus and Edna Manilow. His father left the family when he was two years old, which eventually led him to adopt his mother's maiden name of Manilow. As a child, he was raised in the low income Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York. Musically talented, Manilow began playing the accordion and piano at age 7. After graduating from Brooklyn's Eastern District High School in 1961, Barry attended The Juilliard School and paid the fee by working in the CBS mail room.
Barry was married to Susan Deixler from 1964 to 1965, but the marriage was annulled. He resides in New York City and Los Angeles and is a good friend of Donna Summer, who made a successful cover of his 1975 hit “Could it Be Magic.”
Getting his start at the CBS mail room, Barry Manilow moved on to compose an original score for the melodrama “The Drunkard” after a meeting with director Bro Herrod in 1964 at CBS. The musical went on to enjoy success and a run off-Broadway for eight years. Throughout the rest of the 1960s, he earned a living by producing, writing and performing successful commercial jingles. In 1967, Manilow served as the musical director for the CBS show “Callback.” He followed it up by working for Ed Sullivan's company, during which time his duties included arranging a new theme for “The Late Show” and performing a duo with Jeanne Lucas at New York's Upstairs at the Downstairs club.
Manilow, however, did not begin his noted partnership with Bette Midler until the early 1970s at the Continental Baths in New York City, where he was a piano accompanist. He continued to produce, in addition to playing piano and serving as a musical arranger and musical conductor, Middler's debut album “The Divine Miss M” (1972) and the follow up “Bette Midler” (1973). He also served as her musical director on “The Divine Miss M” tour. The collaboration ended after four years in 1975.
Thanks to his work with Midler, Manilow secured a record deal with the newly established Bell Records and released his debut album, “Barry Manilow,” on July 7, 1973. The album produced the hit single “Could It Be Magic” (1975), which he wrote with Adrienne Anderson. The album was then remixed and re-released in 1975 under the title “Barry Manilow I.” The sophomore effort, “Barry Manilow II,” followed in October 1974. It contained the huge hit “Mandy,” which rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Adult Contemporary charts. The song also marked his first gold single. The follow up single, “It's A Miracle,” went to No. 20.
Manilow gained huge commercial success with his third album, “Tryin' to Get the Feeling” (released in October 1975), which went to No. 5 on the U.S. Albums chart and received triple platinum certification. The song “I Write the Songs,” which was written by Bruce Johnston, spent two weeks on top the Billboard adult contemporary chart in December 1975 before going to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1976. It won a Grammy for Song of the Year and the album was nominated for Record of the Year in 1977. Other songs included in the album were the Top 10 hit “Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again,” “New York City Rhythm” and “Bandstand Boogie,” which was used as the theme of the long running ABC series “American Bandstand.”
Manilow confirmed his rising stardom with the fourth album “This One's for You” (1976), which gained triple platinum status. Composed by Manilow and Adrienne Anderson, with background vocals by the female group Lady Flash, the song “Daybreak” peaked at No. 23 on Billboard's Hot 100 and No. 7 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The next song, “Weekend in New England,” written by Randy Edelman, rose to No. 1 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart and No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, it was the Richard Kerr/Will Jennings written song “Looks Like We Made It” (1977) that put Manilow back at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts.
From December 21, 1976 to January 2, 1977, Manilow performed “Barry Manilow on Broadway” at the Uris Theatre and picked up the 1977 Special Tony Award for his performance. The concert double LP “Barry Manilow Live” was recorded during the time. Released in May 1977, “Barry Manilow Live” rose to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in July 1977, which became his first album to top the chart, and sold over four million copies. Also in 1977, he won an Emmy for Outstanding Special - Comedy-Variety or Music for “The Barry Manilow Special,” his first prime time special on ABC.
In February 1978, Manilow launched the album “Even Now,” which went to No. 3 in the U.S., and No. 12 in the U.K. The album spawned four hit singles with “Copacabana” (#8 US, #42 UK), “Even Now” (# 19 on the US Billboard Hot 100; #1 on the US Adult Contemporary chart), “Can't Smile Without You” (#1 on the US A&C; #3 US Billboard's Hot 100) and “Somewhere in the Night” (#9 US). Co-written by Manilow, Jack Feldman and Bruce Sussman, the disco song “Copacabana” earned him a 1979 Grammy for Best Pop Male Vocal Performance. The album eventually received triple platinum certification. The same year, Manilow also released the first greatest hits album, “Greatest Hits” (1978), with the new single “Ready To Take A Chance Again” (#11 US). The hit album sold over three million pieces, becoming his last triple platinum release to date.
Manilow suffered a general setback in the late 1970s with the release of “One Voice.” Hitting the music stores on September 25, 1979, the album went double platinum and only scored a Top 10 hit with the song “Ships.” His version of Harry James' 1941 No. 1 pop hit “I Don't Want to Walk Without You” only rose to the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 (#36). It was followed by the platinum album “Barry” on November 19, 1980, which went to No. 15 on the Billboard 200 and No. 5 in the U.K. It spun off one top 10 pop hit with “I Made It Through The Rain” (#10), which also peaked at No. 4 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The songs “Lonely Together” and “Bermuda Triangle” rose to No. 7 on the Adult Contemporary and No. 15 on the U.K. charts, respectively. He scored another platinum LP with “If I Should Love Again,” which was released in September 1981. It contained the Top 20 hit “The Old Songs,” the Top 30 hit “Somewhere Down the Road” and the Top 40 hit “Let's Hang On.” Although only rising to No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100, “Somewhere Down the Road” managed to peak at No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart and stayed at the position for two weeks.
Manilow's fame achieved its zenith in the U.K. in 1982 with the release of “Barry Live in Britain,” recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall in London in January 1982. A massive victory in England, the album scorched through the U.K. charts. “Here Comes the Night” followed that same year in November. It rose to No. 32 in the U.S. and No. 7 in the U.K. and went platinum.
“Greatest Hits Vol. II” was released in 1983 with the three new bonus songs “You're Looking Hot Tonight,” “Put a Quarter in the Jukebox” and “Read 'Em and Weep.” The compilation album went to No. 30 in the U.S. and No. 10 in the U.K., and was certified gold, He quickly made a return to platinum status with the critically acclaimed “2:00 AM Paradise Cafe” (1984), which went to No. 28 in the U.S. and No. 40 in the U.K. The song “When October Goes” went on to become one of the top Adult Contemporary hits of 1984 in the U.S.
Manilow launched the self titled album “Manilow” in 1985 under RCA Records. The same year, he also landed a major starring role opposite Annette O'Toole in the CBS TV movie “Copacabana,” based on his song of the same name. Directed by Waris Hussein and written by James Lipton, Manilow also recorded “Copacabana: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Album” (1985), which was also released by RCA.
Back to the label Arista, Manilow released “Swing Street” in 1987. The album rose to No. 70 in the U.S. and went gold. It was followed by another gold release, “Barry Manilow,” in May 1989 and an uncertified live album, “Live on Broadway,” in 1990. Later in 1990, he released his first Christmas album titled “Because It's Christmas,” which went to No. 40 in the U.S. The album was a commercial success and eventually received platinum status, becoming his first platinum record since 1984.
Manilow released “Showstoppers,” a collection of Broadway songs, on September 10, 1991. The album, which became the first album of his to not feature any original songs, peaked at No. 68 in the U.S. It was followed by a string of cover albums, including “Singin' with the Big Bands” (1994, #59 US), “Summer of '78” (1996, #82 US) and “Manilow Sings Sinatra” (1998, #122 US), a tribute to Frank Sinatra. In 1994, he composed the music of the animated film “Thumbelina” (1994) and picked up a Razzie for Worst Original Song for “Marry The Mole,” which he shared with lyricist Jack Feldman. He also scored the 1995 animated film “The Pebble and the Penguin.”
It was in the early 1990s that Manilow developed the one hour stage show “Barry Manilow Presents Copacabana.” The show ran from September 1990 to June 1991 in Atlantic City. In 1994, the show was expanded into a full length musical, “Barry Manilow's Copacabana: The Musical,” which debuted on March 21, 1994, at the Theatre Royal in England. It went on to enjoy a successful run at London's West End, which was followed by a U.K. tour for an additional year. Also known as “Barry Manilow's Copacabana: A New Musical Comedy,” the show debuted in the U.S. in 1999 and a national tour followed from June 2000 to May 2001. Manilow also teamed up with Bruce Sussman to co-write the musical “Harmony,” which opened at the La Jolla Playhouse in California.
On November 13, 2001, Manilow released “Here at the Mayflower,” the first album of his to include all original material since 1984's “2:00 AM Paradise Cafe.” The album rose to No. 90 in the U.S., but fared better in the U.K., where it peaked at No. 18. It generated the hits “Turn The Radio Up” and “They Dance.” “Here at the Mayflower” was released under Concord Records, Manilow's new label after he ended his relationship with Arista Records. The compilation album “Ultimate Manilow” followed on February 5, 2002, and rose to No. 3 in the U.S. and No. 8 in the U.K. Later that same year, he released “A Christmas Gift of Love” with Columbia Records. The album went gold.
Manilow released “2 Nights Live” on April 6, 2004. It peaked at No. 27 in the U.S. He was then reunited with Concord Records to release “Scores” on September 28, 2004, which consisted of songs from “Copacabana: The Musical” and songs from the musical “Harmony,” which was based on the true story about the German chorus group Comedian Harmonists. The album peaked at No. 47 in the U.S. Following the release of the compilation album “The Essential Barry Manilow” (2005), he was reunited with Arista for “The Greatest Songs of the Fifties,” which was released on January 3, 2006. The album was a huge success in the U.S., and debuted on the Billboard 200 at No. 1. The album also charted in the U.K. at No. 12. The sequel, “The Greatest Songs of the Sixties,” was released on October 31, 2006, and marked another major hit for Manilow when it opened at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. The next installment, “The Greatest Songs of the Seventies,” followed on September 18, 2007. Produced by his good friend Clive Davis, who was the founder of Arista Records, it debuted on No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and sold about 113,000 copies in the first week. His third Christmas album, “In the Swing of Christmas,” was released in October 2007.
In between “The Greatest Songs of the Fifties” and “The Greatest Songs of the Sixties,” Manilow starred in the PBS TV special “Barry Manilow: Music and Passion,” which aired on March 9, 2006. Directed by David Mallet, he won a 2006 Emmy for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.
Opening 2008, Manilow launched “Beautiful Ballads & Love Songs,” a compilation album featuring his greatest ballads and love songs. On November 24, 2008, he released “The Greatest Songs of the Eighties,” which peaked at No. 14 in the U.S. and No. 22 in the U.K. Recently, on January 26, 2010, Manilow released “The Greatest Love Songs of all Time.”
Clio: Honorary Award, 2009 (for prior work with commercial jingles)
Emmy: Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program, “Barry Manilow: Music and Passion,” 2006
Razzie: Worst Original Song, “Thumbelina,” 1995
American Music: Best Pop/Rock Male Artist, 1980
Grammy: Best Pop Male Vocal Performance, “Copacabana,” 1979
American Music: Best Pop/Rock Male Artist, 1979
American Music: Best Pop/Rock Male Artist, 1978
Emmy: Outstanding Special - Comedy-Variety or Music, “The Barry Manilow Special,” 1977
Special Tony: “Barry Manilow on Broadway,” 1977