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Say the name Barry White and you'd be hard pressed to follow it with the name of any other recording artist with such a huge, cross-sectional following. He was at home appearing on Soul Train, guesting with a full band on The Today Show, and appearing in cartoon form in various episodes of The Simpsons. During the '70s, Dinah Shore devoted a full hour of her daily syndicated Dinah! show to White. While there was a period where Barry White wasn't releasing records or making the pop charts, he did stay active touring and appearing on other artists' records including Quincy Jones' "The Secret Garden (The Seduction Suite)," Regina Belle, and rap star Big Daddy Kane's "All of Me." It's surprising to find out that such an illustrious career almost didn't happen because White wasn't interested in being a recording artist.
Born in Galveston, TX, Barry White grew up singing gospel songs with his mother and taught himself to play piano. Shortly after moving from Texas to South Central Los Angeles, White made his recording debut at the tender age of 11, playing piano on Jesse Belvin's "Goodnight My Love." He made his first record when he was 16 with a group called the Upfronts. The song was called "Little Girl" on a local L.A. label called Lummtone Records. Later he worked for various independent labels around Los Angeles, landing an A&R position with Bob Keane, the man responsible for the first pop recordings by Sam Cooke. One of his labels, Mustang, was hot at the time with a group called the Bobby Fuller Four in 1966. White was hired for 40 dollars a week to do A&R for Keane's family of labels: Del-Fi, Mustang and Bronco. During this time, White flirted with the idea of being a recording artist, making a record for Bronco called "All in the Run of a Day." But he chose to stick with his A&R duties. One of the first groups he worked with was the Versatiles who later changed their name to the 5th Dimension. White's first big hit came from an artist familiar to dancefloor denizens -- Viola Wills, whose "Lost Without the Love of My Guy" went Top 20 R&B. His salary went up to 60 dollars a week. White started working with the Bobby Fuller Four. Bob Keene and Larry Nunes -- who later became White's spiritual advisor and true friend -- wanted to cut a female act. White had heard about a singer named Felice Taylor. They had three hit records, "It May Be Winter Outside," "I'm Under the Influence of Love," and "I Feel Love Coming On." They were huge hits in England. White started making 400 dollars a week.
When Bronco went out of business, White began doing independent production. Those were some lean times for White. Veteran arranger Gene Page, who would later arrange or co-arrange White's hits, helped him out, giving him work and non-repayable loans. Then three years later, Paul Politti, who also worked at Bronco, contacted him to tell him that Larry Nunes was interested in starting a business with him. Nunes had started cutting tracks for a concept album he was working on. Meanwhile, White had started working with this girl group who hadn't done any singing professionally. They rehearsed for almost a year. White wrote "Walkin' in the Rain (With the One I Love)" with lyrics that were inspired by conversations with one of the singers, Glodean James (who would later become White's second wife). White christened the group Love Unlimited.
Larry Nunes took the record to Russ Regan, who was the head of the Uni label owned by MCA. Love Unlimited's From a Girl's Point of View became a million-seller. Soon after, Regan left Uni for 20th Century Records. Without Regan, White's relationship with Uni soured. With his relationship with Uni in chaos and Love Unlimited contract-bound with the label, White decided he needed to work with another act. He wanted to work with a male artist. He made three song demos of himself singing and playing the piano. Nunes heard them and insisted that he re-record and release them as a recording artist. They argued for days about it. Then he somehow convinced White to do it. White was still hesitating up to the time the label copy was made. He was going to use the name "White Heat," but the record became the first Barry White album. That first album was 1973's I've Got So Much to Give on 20th Century Records. It included the title track and "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby."
White got a release from Uni for Love Unlimited and they joined him over at 20th Century Records. Then he had a brainstorm for another concept album. He told Regan he wanted to do an instrumental album. Regan thought he had lost it. White wanted to call it the Love Unlimited Orchestra. The single, "Love's Theme," went to number one pop, was a million-seller, and was a smash all over the world. The song earned him a BMI award for over three million covers.
For the next five years, from 1974 to 1979, there was no stopping the Barry White Hit Train -- his own Stone Gon, Barry White Sings Love Songs for the One You Love ("It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me," "Playing Your Game Baby"), Let the Music Play (title track, "You See the Trouble with Me"), Just Another Way to Say I Love You ("I'll Do for You Anything You Want Me To," "Love Serenade"), The Man ("Your Sweetness Is My Weakness," "Sha La La Means I Love You," "September When We Met," a splendid cover of Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are"), and Love Unlimited's In Heat ("I Belong to You," "Move Me No Mountain," "Share a Little Love in Your Heart," and "Love's Theme," with lyrics). He also scored a soundtrack for the 20th Century Fox film The Together Brothers, enjoying a resurgence on home video.
His studio band included such luminaries as guitarists Ray Parker, Jr. (pre-Raydio, co-writer with White on "You See the Trouble With Me"), bassist Nathan East, Wah Wah Watson, David T. Walker, Dean Parks, Don Peake, bassist Wilton Felder of the Crusaders, Lee Ritenour, drummer Ed Greene, percussionist Gary Coleman, and later keyboardist Rahn Coleman. His hit streak seemed, well, unlimited. Then it all derailed. Russ Regan and another ally, Hosea Wilson, left 20th Century Records and White was left with management that he thought of in less than glowing terms.
White left after fulfilling his contract with two more album releases, Love Unlimited Orchestra's My Musical Bouquet and his own I Love to Sing the Songs I Sing. White signed a custom label deal with CBS Records. At the time it was touted as one of the biggest deals ever. He started a label called Unlimited Gold. The roster included White, Love Unlimited, the Love Unlimited Orchestra, Jack Perry, and a teenaged singer named Danny Pearson who charted with a song called "What's Your Sign Girl." He also did a duet album with Glodean James called Barry & Glodean. Aside from the gold album The Message Is Love, most of the albums weren't huge sellers. After eight Barry White albums, four Love Unlimited albums, four Love Unlimited Orchestra albums, constant touring, and dealing with the rigors of the music industry, White decided to take a break.
Then in 1992, White signed with A&M, releasing the albums The Man Is Back, The Right Night & Barry White, and Put Me in Your Mix (which contains a duet with Issac Hayes, "Dark and Lovely"). The Icon Is Love became his biggest-selling album since the '70s releases, going multi-platinum. It includes the platinum single "Practice What You Preach." The production lineup includes Gerald Levert and Tony Nicholas, his godson Chuckii Booker, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and White and his longtime friend Jack Perry. While some later efforts buried his vocals in whiz-bang electronic effects, on The Icon Is Love, White's deep steam engine baritone pipes are upfront in the mix. Staying Power followed in 1999, showcased in the best tradition of soul music where the focus is the singer and the song. The album earned White two Grammys. White's career took him from the ghetto to international success with 106 gold and 41 platinum albums, 20 gold and ten platinum singles, with worldwide sales in excess of 100 million.
White, who suffered from hypertension and chronic high blood pressure, was hospitalized for kidney failure in September of 2002. He was undergoing dialysis treatment, but the combination of illnesses proved too much and he died July 4, 2003 at a West Hollywood hospital. By the time of his death, Barry White had achieved a near-universal acclaim and popularity that few artists achieve and even fewer within their own lifetime.
Wikipedia:This article is about the American record producer and singer-songwriter. For the US Ambassador to Norway, see Barry B. White.
Barry White (born Barry Eugene Carter; (1944-09-12)September 12, 1944 – July 4, 2003(2003-07-04)), was an American composer and singer-songwriter.
A 3-time Grammy Award-winner known for his distinctive bass-baritone voice and romantic image, White's greatest success came in the 1970s as a solo singer and with the Love Unlimited Orchestra, crafting many enduring soul, funk, and disco songs such as his two biggest hits, "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" and "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe".
During the course of his career in the music business, White achieved 106 gold albums worldwide, 41 of which also attained platinum status. White had 20 gold and 10 platinum singles, with worldwide records sales in excess of 100 million, he is one of the world's best-selling artists of all time.
His influences included Rev. James Cleveland, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley plus Motown artists The Supremes, The Four Tops and Marvin Gaye.Smith, Steve (September 20, 2013). "Barry White Gets Walk of Fame Star". San Gabriel Valley Tribune. Retrieved 2014-01-06.
Barry White was born Barry Eugene Carter in Galveston, Texas, and grew up in the high-crime areas of South Central Los Angeles. White was the oldest of two brothers; his brother Darryl was 13 months younger. He grew up listening to his mother's classical music collection, and first took to the piano emulating what he heard on the records. His introduction to music led to him playing piano on Jesse Belvin's 1956 hit single, "Goodnight My Love."
White recalled that, "[As a child] I had a normal squeaky kid voice. Then as a teenager, that completely changed. My mother cried because she knew her baby boy had become a man."
Gang life and jail sentence
His brother Darryl was murdered in a clash with a rival gang, and White himself was jailed – at the age of 17 – for stealing $30,000 worth of Cadillac tires.
While in jail, White listened to Elvis Presley singing "It's Now or Never" on the radio, an experience he later credited with changing the course of his life.Barry White Bobby Bennett and Sarah Smith, The Ultimate Soul Music Trivia Book: 501 Questions and Answers about Motown, Rhythm & Blues, and More, Secaucus, NJ: Carol Pub. Group, c. 1998. "Obituary: Barry White". BBC News. July 4, 2003. Ivor Casey Blog Barry White with Marc Eliot, Love Unlimited, New York: Broadway Books, 1999, p. 22.
ContentsMusic career1.1 The 1960s1.2 The 1970s as producer1.3 The 1970s as solo artist1.4 The Love Unlimited Orchestra1.5 The 1980s1.6 The 1990s
After his release from jail, he left gang life and began a musical career at the beginning of the 1960s in singing groups. He first released "Too Far to Turn Around" in 1960 as part of The Upfronts before working for various small independent labels in Los Angeles. He also recorded several singles under his own name in the early 1960s, backed by vocal groups the Atlantics (for the Rampart and Faro labels) and the Majestics (for the Linda and Jordan labels).
Bob Keane of Del-Fi Records – the man who discovered Ritchie Valens – hired him as an A&R man in the mid-1960s, and White started working with the label's artists including Viola Wills and The Bobby Fuller Four, as a songwriter, session musician, and arranger. He discovered singer Felice Taylor and arranged her song "I Feel Love Comin' On", as well as "Harlem Shuffle" for Bob & Earl. Both records became big hits in the UK. He also wrote "Doin' the Banana Split" for TV bubblegum act The Banana Splits in 1968.
The 1970s as producer
In 1972, he got his big break producing a girl group he had discovered called Love Unlimited. Formed in imitative style of the Motown girl group The Supremes, the group members had gradually honed their talents with White for two years previously until they signed contracts with Uni Records. His friend Paul Politi hooked him up with music industry businessman Larry Nunes, who helped to finance their album. After it was recorded, Nunes took the recording to Russ Regan, who was the head of the Uni label owned by MCA. The album, 1972's From A Girl's Point of View We Give to You... Love Unlimited, became a million album seller and the first of White's string of long-titled albums and singles.
White produced, wrote and arranged their classic soul ballad, "Walking in the Rain with the One I Love", which climbed to #14 in the Billboard Hot 100 Pop chart and #6 on the Billboard R&B chart in late 1972. This single also reached #12 in the UK chart. White's voice can clearly be heard in this piece as he plays the lover who answers the phone call of the female lead.
Soon after, Regan left Uni for 20th Century Records. Without Regan, White's relationship with Uni soured. With his relationship with Uni over and Love Unlimited contract-bound with the label, White was able to switch both his production deal and the group to 20th Century Records. (They recorded several other hits throughout the 1970s, "I Belong to You", which spent over five months on the Billboard R&B chart in 1974 including a week at #1 and "Under the Influence of Love", which hit #3 on the Billboard Pop album charts. White married the lead singer of the group, Glodean James, on July 4, 1974.)
The 1970s as solo artist
White wanted to work with another act but decided to work with a solo male artist. While working on a few demos for a male singer, he made three song demos of himself singing and playing, but Nunes heard them and insisted that he re-record and release them himself as a solo recording artist. After arguing for days about it, White was finally persuaded to release the songs himself although he was initially reluctant to step out in front of the microphone.
He then wrote several other songs and recorded them for what eventually became an entire album of music. He was going to use the name "White Heat," but decided on using his given name instead. White was still hesitating up to the time the label copy was made. It eventually became the first solo White album, 1973's I've Got So Much to Give. It included the title track and his first solo chart hit, "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby", which also rose to #1 on the Billboard R&B charts as well as #3 on the Billboard Pop charts in 1973 and stayed in the top 40 for many weeks.
Other chart hits by White included "Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up" (#2 R&B, #7 Pop in 1973), "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" (# 1 Pop and R&B in 1974), "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" (#1 R&B, #2 Pop in 1974), "What Am I Gonna Do with You" (#1 R&B, #8 Pop in 1975), "Let the Music Play" (#4 R&B in 1976), "It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me" (#1 R&B, #4 Pop in 1977) and "Your Sweetness is My Weakness" (#2 R&B in 1978) and others. White also had a strong following in the UK, where he scored five Top 10 hits and a #1 for "You're the First, the Last, My Everything".
The Love Unlimited Orchestra
In 1973 White created The Love Unlimited Orchestra, a 40-piece orchestral group to be used originally as a backing band for the girl-group Love Unlimited. However, White had other plans, and in 1973 he released a single with "Love's Theme" (written by him and played by the Orchestra), that same track reached #1 on the Billboard Pop charts. Later, in 1974, he made the first album of the Love Unlimited Orchestra, Rhapsody in White, containing "Love's Theme". White is sometimes credited with ushering in the "disco" sound, seamlessly combining R&B music with classical music. Some also regard "Love's Theme" as the first hit in the actual "disco era".
Barry White would continue to make albums with the Orchestra, achieving some successes such as: "Rhapsody in White"; "Satin Soul"; "Forever in Love"; "Midnight Groove"; "My Sweet Summer Suite", Remake of "Theme From King Kong". The Orchestra ceased to make albums in 1983, but continued to support Barry White as a backing band.
After six years White left 20th Century in 1979 to launch his own label, Unlimited Gold, with CBS/Columbia Records. Although his success on the pop charts slowed down as the disco era came to an end, he maintained a loyal following throughout his career. Despite several albums over the next three years he failed to repeat his earlier successes, with no singles managing to reach the Billboard Hot 100 except for 1982's "Change," climbing into the Billboard R&B Top 20 (#12). His label venture was exacting a heavy financial cost on White, so he concentrated on mostly touring and finally folded his label in 1983.
After four years he signed with A&M Records, and with the release of 1987's The Right Night & Barry White, the single entitled "Sho' You Right" made it to the Billboard R&B charts, peaking at #17.
In 1989 he released The Man Is Back! and with it had three top 40 singles on the Billboard R&B charts: "Super Lover", which made it to #34, "I Wanna Do It Good to Ya", which made it to #26, and "When Will I See You Again", which made it to #32.
A 1970s nostalgia fad allowed White to enjoy a renewed wave of popularity in the 1990s. After White participated in a Quincy Jones record entitled Back on the Block, on the song titled "The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)", which topped the R&B chart in 1990, he mounted an effective comeback with several albums, each more successful than the last. He returned to the top of the charts in 1991 with the album Put Me in Your Mix, which reached #8 on the Billboard R&B Albums chart and the song by the same name reached #2 on the Billboard R&B singles chart.
In 1994 he released The Icon Is Love, which went to #1 on the Billboard R&B album charts, and the single "Practice What You Preach" gave him his first #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart in almost 20 years. The album was nominated for a Grammy in the Best R&B Album category, but lost to TLC's CrazySexyCool.
In 1996, White recorded the duet "In Your Wildest Dreams" with Tina Turner. 1996 also saw the release of Space Jam and its soundtrack, on which White had a duet with Chris Rock, called "Basketball Jones," a remake of Cheech & Chong's "Basketball Jones" from 1973.
His final album, 1999's Staying Power, resulted in his last hit song "Staying Power," which placed #45 on the Billboard R&B charts. The single won him two Grammy Awards in the categories Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance.
His autobiography, Love Unlimited, written with Mark Eliot, was published in 1999 by Broadway Books.Old, Pete. "Barry White Discography". Barry White Unlimited FanClub. Retrieved March 16, 2012. allmusic ((( Barry White > Biography ))) "Doin' The Banana Split" at Discogs.com. Retrieved February 16, 2013 Staying Power – Barry White | Awards | AllMusic "Barry White", FilmBug.
Over the course of his career, White sometimes did voice-over work for TV and movies. He voiced the character Bear in the 1975 film Coonskin and also played the character Sampson in the movie's live-action segments.
He appeared as himself in a couple episodes of The Simpsons, and most importantly the episode "Whacking Day" in which Bart and Lisa used his famously deep bass singing voice, played through loudspeakers placed on the ground, to lull and attract snakes. White was a fan of the show, and had reportedly contacted the staff about wanting to make a guest appearance.
He played the role of a bus driver for a Prodigy commercial in 1995, and he also portrayed the voice of a rabbit in a Good Seasons salad dressing mix commercial, singing a song called "You Can't Bottle Love."
In addition, he did some work for car commercials, most famously for Oldsmobile, and later on, Jeep.
He also provided voice over for Arby's Restaurant commercials on TV and Radio to promote their 'Market Fresh' menu.
His voice can also be heard in Apple's first iBook commercial.
He made three guest appearances on the comedy-drama TV series Ally McBeal, as his music was often featured on the show in dream sequences.
Illness and death
White was overweight for most of his adult life – weighing 375 pounds according to Casey Kasem – and suffered from related health problems. In 1995, he was admitted to a hospital as a result of high blood pressure. In August 1999, White was forced to cancel approximately a month's worth of tour dates due to exhaustion, high blood pressure, and a hectic schedule. In the fall of 2002, he was hospitalized with kidney failure, attributed to chronic diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure.
While undergoing dialysis and awaiting a kidney transplant in May 2003, he suffered a severe stroke, which forced him to retire from public life. At around 9:30 a.m. (PDT) on July 4, 2003, 29 years to the date that he married Glodean, White died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at the age of 58. His remains were cremated, and the ashes were scattered by his family off the California coast."Singer Barry White dies", BBC, July 5, 2003. "Barry White (1944–2003) – Find A Grave Memorial". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
On September 20, 2004, he was posthumously inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame at a ceremony held in New York. On September 12, 2013, which would have been White's 69th birthday, he was posthumously awarded the 2,506th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6914 Hollywood Blvd. in the category of recording. The show Counting Cars paid tribute to White by restoring the last car he owned for his widow, Glodean.Andrew Barker, "Barry White to Receive Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame", Variety, 12 September 2013. Retrieved February 4, 2014