I wrote Barry Manilow a fan letter in 1979. He never wrote back. Bastard. Still….I was, and still am, a Barry Manilow fan. I loved his music when I was a kid. While my musical tastes have changed a bit since way back in the 70’s, I still enjoy listening to him now and again for the memories.
The Early Years
Barry Manilow was born Barry Alan Pincus on June 17, 1943 in Brooklyn, New York. Pincus? I’ll bet he got beat up a lot on the playground. Today is Barry’s 75th birthday. Happy Birthday! Anyway, Barry went to Julliard after high school which is a pretty cool music school. He must have been good to get in there, or maybe they just took everyone back in the 60’s. Miles Davis went to Julliard for a second in the 40’s before going out on the road with Charlie Parker. It’s a very prestigious music school and I think it’s way cool that Barry attended there.
The teen magazines tried to make Barry Manilow a teen idol/heartthrob/sexy boy in the 70’s. That was not good. What were they thinking? As hard as I try, I can’t find one single thing physically sexy about him. I liked his music as a kid, but I preferred my teen idols to be hunky boys like Leif Garrett, Matt Dillon, John Schneider, and other younger kids. Barry graduated high school in 1961. That’s before most of us were even born. He was already in his 30’s when he became popular in the 70’s. Teen idols should be teens (or close to it).
Side note: Barry has always reminded me of my mom’s best friend, Lynne. They kind of look the same. She was a P.E. teacher and kind of reminds me of Jane Lynch from Glee.
I took my big sister Lori to a Barry Manilow concert for her 30th birthday. She was a very sick girl and died just three years later, so I’m really glad we could share that time together. It was a VERY entertaining concert and we had a great time. It’s one of my best memories with her….other than running over Barbie doll heads and boobs with our bikes when we were younger.
- Barry was married for a second in 1964. The marriage was annulled.
- He played accordion as a child. He got beat up a lot, huh?
- Barry played piano for Bette Midler.
- Before he became famous, he wrote jingles for State Farm, McDonalds, Dr. Pepper, Stridex, and others. He does a little jingle of these on his Live album from 1977.
- Looks Like We Made It knocked Shaun Cassidy’s Da Doo Ron Ron out of the top spot in 1977.
- Mandy was originally titled Brandy. Or maybe Sandy or Candy. I think that’s dandy.
- Mandy ousted Elton John’s Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds from the number one spot in 1976.
- Barry was a good friend of Donna Summer. I loved her.
- I Write the Songs was recorded by Captain & Tennille and David Cassidy before Barry had a hit with it.
- In 1978, Barry had five albums on the best-selling charts. Not many other artists have achieved that. Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, and Bruce Springsteen are three of only a handful who have had five albums simultaneously on the best-selling list.
- Barry has sold sixty gazillion albums. Something like that. I think it’s over 80 million at this point.
- My favorite Barry songs are Even Now, When October Goes, Weekend in New England, and Somewhere Down the Road. I think those are my favorites because of the great memories they give me of summers on the farm in Turtle Lake, North Dakota.
- Suzanne Somers is a good friend of Barry’s.
I wrote the following a few years ago: “Some people think Barry is gay. Whatever. It’s really nobody’s business except for his….but it sure is fun to talk about. I think he may be asexual. He’s so into his music. I doubt there’s anything more important to him than music.” Barry officially came out in April of 2017. Good for him but sad that anyone has to keep that a secret. He married his boyfriend in 2014 after having been together since 1978. That’s a long time to keep a secret.
Even if you’re not a Fanilow, I’m sure you’ve heard Barry’s music. “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” Barry wrote that. “I am stuck on Band Aid cause Band Aid stuck on me.” He wrote that too. He wrote a lot of jingles that you’ve probably heard before.
Barry created the Manilow Music Project which helps arts and music programs suffering from the effects of budget cuts. He’s raised a lot of money for new instruments and music for the poor ghetto schools at risk of being cut. Very awesome.
I’ve seen Barry on American Idol and he seems like a great teacher. I think he should mentor kids in his free time. I wonder if American Idol ever considered him as a full-time judge. Wouldn’t he be wonderful as a judge on that show?
Barry has been doing shows in Vegas since 2005. He was supposed to launch his brand new show, “Manilow Las Vegas – The Hits Come Home” last Thursday [6/14/18], but he was hospitalized with a bronchial infection. I think he has been released as of this writing and the show is scheduled to premiere next weekend instead. What a trooper.
Barry Manilow is a part of my childhood. He’s part of some great memories I have with my deceased sister. Who knows. He may also be part of my future. My name is Tammy, and I’m a Fanilow.