Barry Manilow (born Barry Alan Pincus in Brooklyn, New York on June 17, 1943) is an American singer and songwriter. Manilow dominated the 1970s soft rock scene with a string of top ten hits and multi-platinum albums. Despite the frequent barbs from critics and lampooning by comedians, Manilow’s fans and music soldier on as evidenced by the Number Three debut of his 2002 greatest hits album Ultimate Manilow.
Early in his career, Manilow worked as a pianist, producer and arranger, accompanying Bette Midler among others. Manilow’s major solo hits include “Mandy” (1974), “Copacabana (At The Copa)” (1978) and “I Write The Songs” (1975). Manilow’s Copacabana has also been turned into a stage musical that ran for two years in the West End, and toured the US in 2000 and 2003.
Manilow’s recorded work, spanning from 1971 through 2005, has gone through several distinct phases. He first made a series of demo singles, both under his real name (although born Barry Pincus, he had it legally changed to Manilow), and under a pseudo-group name of Featherbed. His first album was released by Bell (later Arista) records in 1973, and contained an eclectic mix of piano-driven pop, big band remixes and guitar-driven rock. His second album, called Barry Manilow II (Bell/Arista, 1974) contained the hit song “Mandy”, and began a string of hit singles and albums that lasted through the rest of the 1970s, and into the early 1980s.
After the landmark Concert at Blenheim Palace in August of 1983, Manilow started to venture into a jazz-driven style, starting with the 1984 album 2:00 am - Paradise Cafe. The album was recorded with jazz greats Sarah Vaughan, Mel Torme and Gerry Mulligan. Manilow would return to the genre in 1987, with the release of Swing Street. The techno-jazz-inspired album contained performances with Dianne Schuur, Phyllis Hyman, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, and Tom Scott.
From 1985 to 1986, Manilow was involved with the pop album Manilow [RCA, 1985], and began a phase of international music, as he performed songs and duets in French, Italian, Portuguese and Japanese, among other languages.
In the 1990s, Manilow recorded a succession of “event” albums, guided by Arista’s President, Clive Davis. From 1991’s Showstoppers, a collection of Broadway tunes, to a big band album (Singin’ With the Big Bands, Arista, 1994), a 1970s collection (Summer of ‘78, Arista, 1996), the decade ended with Manilow recording a tribute to Frank Sinatra [Manilow Sings Sinatra, Arista, 1998].
After the start of the new millennium, Manilow left Arista records for Concord Records, a jazz-oriented label in California, and started work on the long-anticipated Here at the Mayflower album. The album was another eclectic mix of styles, almost entirely composed and produced by Manilow himself. In 2004 he released both a live album (2Nights Live!, BMG Strategic Marketing Group, 2004), and a soundtrack album of his musicals scores (Songs from Copacabana and Harmony), (Concord, 2004). Two Christmas albums, many live albums and compilations have rounded out a very large body of music.
Manilow appeared as a guest judge and arranged music for American Idol on April 24, 2004, the year in which he also embarked on his “One Night Live! One Last Time!” final tour. Some fans were unhappy that Manilow charged his fans $1000 to meet him after the show, but ticket sales were robust, landing Manilow’s tour into the Top Ten club for box office grosses in 2004.
Although not all Manilow’s hits were written by him (the most notable instance, ironically, being “I Write The Songs”, actually written by lyricist Bruce Johnston), he co-wrote, with lyricist Bruce Sussman, a musical, Harmony, which was originally scheduled to preview in Philadelphia in 2003. After financial difficulties and a legal battle, Manilow and Sussman won back the rights to the musical. It is currently unknown when the musical is slated to reach Broadway. His song Mandy is actually a cover of a punk song of the same name that he recorded in his own style.
On the heels of his “Farewell” tour, Manilow opened a standing show in Las Vegas in 2005 at the Las Vegas Hilton, now renewed into 2007. “Manilow: Music and Passion” is a hybrid multi-faceted production that features contemporary hi-tech music and effects intermingled with the classic entertainment values of Las Vegas legends like Sinatra, Presley, Davis, and Martin.
Barry Manilow’s unparalleled career is made up of virtually every facet of music, including performing, composing, arranging and producing. A 2002 Songwriter’s Hall of Fame Inductee, Manilow has triumphed in every medium of entertainment. He has received Grammy, Emmy and Tony Awards and has been nominated for an Academy Award. Years ago, Rolling Stone magazine proclaimed Manilow “the showman of our generation.” If ever an entertainer embodied that accolade, it is indeed Barry Manilow.
After having recorded six critically acclaimed albums of songs written by the greatest songwriters of all time - from Gershwin to Bacharach, Manilow returns at last to his true passion - songwriting. Manilow teams up once again with lyricist Enoch Anderson for this astounding new work.
Inspired by the Andy Warhol quote that “in the future, everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes,” this energetic and exciting guitar-driven pop album explores the perils and pinnacles of fame’s double-edged sword. More than two years in the making 15 Minutes was released June 2011.
“Fame and success are something we all strive for, and yet when we get it how do we behave? That question jumps out at us daily from magazine covers, TV news and online gossip sites. In my world of entertainment, I’ve watched perfectly decent and talented people achieve the success they’ve been striving for only to crash and burn as their star rises. It happens in every walk of life, not only in the entertainment field; in sports, in politics and in daily life when the assistant manager gets promoted at the grocery store. It’s something that continues to fascinate us, and for me it represented an exciting musical journey to explore,” explained Manilow.
Making a guest appearance on 15 Minutes is young Nataly Dawn, lead singer of the white-hot group Pomplamoose. Her rendition of “Letter from A Fan” is both innocent and eerie.
Produced by Manilow and Michael Lloyd, 15 Minutes is a captivating tale of someone who achieves fame, blows it and begins again.