Today is the 69th birthday of Barry Alan Pincus of Brooklyn NY. He wrote a whole bunch of songs & along the way sold over 360 million records as writer, producer, arranger or conductor, up there with Sinatra, Michael Jackson or Bruce Springsteen.
Maybe Barry Manilow will never be ready to take a chance again. During a 2004 concert in NYC, just as he started to sing a duet with Brian d’Arcy James, Mailow joked to the audience: “Of course, we're not going to sing it to each other—that would be creepy.”
His own website diminishes the fact that he began his career in a gay bathhouse, despite the fact that he’s admitted ripping off his tuxedo & jumping into the bathhouse’s pool with lots of gay nude men. He blamed losing his inhibitions on the drinks & joints that had been passed to him. Manilow: “That’s such a bit of misinformation. There was just 1 bathhouse called the Continental Bathhouse & I worked there for 2 weekends with Bette Midler & that was it. I accompanied her for two weekends there & then we went on to a lot of nightclubs around NYC, Chicago & L.A. & she exploded like a year later. So it really wasn’t ‘gay bathhouses.’ I don't know where that came from.”
On the plus side, he canceled an appearance on The View because of Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s ultra-conservative stance. Manilow: “I strongly disagree with her views, I think she's dangerous & offensive. I will not be on the same stage as her.” When Manilow was being honored in Palm Springs for his AIDS awareness efforts, he stated: “I've had 4 personal assistants in my career since the ’70s, & 3 out of the 4 have died of AIDS. My personal assistants have always become my best friends. They are my brothers.”
Manilow complained that when the Reagans became his neighbors in Bel-Air: "I thought it was pretty hot, but the secret service was all over the place. I always know when they are coming home because of all the helicopters. If I am out there sunbathing in the nude, I go, shit, the Reagans are coming home.”
When Elizabeth Taylor asked him the early 1980s for help raising money to fight the disease he was there. Manilow: “Her friend, Rock Hudson, had died. She was the first one to try to make the public aware of this disease that was infecting everybody, & she was throwing a big dinner party. She called her entertainer friends, & they all turned her down. I don't know why. But I got the call & said, ‘Of course.’ But my band wasn't around. I just went there & played piano & sang for a good hour. It was the first one she had, & it was the first time I had ever done anything like that.”
I have never been, nor do I suspect that I will ever be, a Fanalow. Even with my egalitarian & encompassing musical tastes, I never did find myself on the Manilow journey. The closest to an exception was when I was working for ASCAP in NYC, circa mid-1970s. I was engaged in listening to 6 hours of commercial radio play & entrusted to identify all the music played: commercials, bridges, lead-ins, cues & songs. I would not listen to songs all the way through. I was paid a bonus for finishing more than the 6 hour tape. Yet, I was very taken with an AM radio hit. I knew the song in the first 3 notes, but I would listen all the way through. I began to think it would be an effective ballad in my own act. The song was Weekend In New England sung by Barry Manilow.
I think it is unfortunate that Manilow suffers from the same fear of fan rejection that Liberace did. It would have been fun to have him be an out & proud gay man. For 25 years, Manilow has lived with his "manager" Garry Kief in homes they share in NYC, Bel Air & Palm Springs. Could It Be Magic?