Barry Manilow (born June 17, 1943) is an American singer, pianist, songwriter, producer, and arranger from Brooklyn. He debuted with two 1973/74 albums on Bell Records, which spawned the hits “Could It Be Magic” and “Mandy.” Between 1975 and 1984, he released eight studio albums and two live sets on Arista. His most prolific chart success occurred during 1977/78 with the Billboard Hot 100 hits “Looks Like We Made It,” “Weekend In New England,” “Can’t Smile Without You,” and “Copacabana (at The Copa).”
Manilow was born Barry Alan Pincus in Brooklyn, New York, to a family of Russian Jewish and Irish Catholic heritage. His parents divorced soon after his birth and he was raised by his mother and maternal grandparents, who changed his surname to Manilow. He attended the New York College of Music and later studied Musical Theater at Julliard.
To pay his college expenses, Manilow took a job at CBS, where he met the label’s director Bro Herrod, who asked Barry to arrange songs for an off-Broadway musical adaptation of the melodrama The Drunkard. Manilow composed an original score, which Herrod used for the production’s entire eight-year run on New York’s 13th Street Theatre.
Between 1965 and 1970, Manilow worked as a writer and singer of commercial jingles. He composed and performed popular jingles for State Farm Insurance (“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there”) and Band-Aid, adopting a child’s voice for the latter. His singing-only credits in the jingle industry include commercials for the soda brands Dr. Pepper and Pepsi.
Manilow parlayed his jingle work into television, where he served as musical director on the 1968 talent show Callback, which aired on WCBS-TV. He then arranged a new theme for The Late Show starring Johnny Carson.
In 1969, Columbia/CBS vice-president Tony Orlando signed Manilow to front Featherbed, a studio-based pop project. The two Featherbed singles, “Amy” (b/w “Morning”) and “Could It Be Magic” (double-sided), appeared in 1971 on Bell Records, Columbia’s newly acquired subsidiary.
Manilow was spotted live by another up-and-coming talent, Bette Midler, who hired him as her pianist and music director at the Continental Baths. He produced her 1972 debut album The Divine Miss M and its 1973 eponymous followup, both released on Atlantic. The former earned him his first Grammy nomination for best producer.
In 1973, Bell Records issued Manilow’s self-titled debut album.
(more to come)
- Barry Manilow (1973)
- Barry Manilow II (1974)
- Tryin’ to Get the Feeling (1975)
- This One’s for You (1976)
- Live (1977)
- Even Now (1978)
- One Voice (1979)
- Barry (1980)
- If I Should Love Again (1981)
- Here Comes the Night (1982)
- 2:00 A.M. Paradise Café (1984)
- Manilow (1985)
- Copacabana (OST, 1986)
- Swing Street (1987)
- Barry Manilow (1989)
- Because It’s Christmas (1990)
- Showstoppers (1991)
- Singin’ With the Big Bands (1994)
- Summer of ’78 (1996)
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