By Matt Clizbe
Barry Manilow had the spotlight shift to his often intensely private personal life this week when the 73 year old Brooklyn native opened up to People.com about his 40-year long relationship with husband/manager Garry Kief. In this candid exclusive Barry discussed having a long time fear that he would disappoint his fans if they knew he was gay. 29 traditionally recorded studio albums and 80 million records sold make it quite clearly that their is nothing to be disappointed about when it comes to Barry Manilow. To explain why, this week’s TBT salutes the remarkable success of his breakthrough single “Mandy.”
Fans know Barry Manilow best for songs like “Can’t Smile Without You,” “I Write The Songs,”“Copacabana,” and most notably “Mandy,” but his now timelessness five decade long career as a performer actually began with him as uniquely well rounded student at the New York College of Music and later Juilliard, where he was making a name for himself as a composer for theater, commercial jingles, and TV. After getting a job at WCBS-TV in 1964 to pay living expenses, he grew to be a prominent part of the CBS family, as one of its series music directors. A great example of this is when he arranged music for Ed Sullivan’s production company, and composed a theme for CBS’ The Late Show.
Contributing to music for productions put him on the path to artistry through collaborations with multi talented stars Tony Orlando and Bette Midler in the early 70s. Working with them expanded his role as a musician, and sparked his relationship with Arista Records’ predecessor Bell Records prior to a pivotal buy out by label head and mentor Clive Davis. Manilow’s hands on work with Medler and Bell Records lead him to having his own self-titled debut album for Bell in 1973. After Bell Records was acquired and turned into Arista, label head Clive Davis suggested that the longtime composer switch things up, and find a new energy by trying his hand at well performed covers.
By 1974 the freshly formed Arista Records reissued Manilow’s second album Barry Manilow II in hopes of getting the singer the breakthrough he needed to thrive under the new management. For that reissuing however, Davis insisted on the condition that Manilow try covering a 1972 British hit by Scott English called “Brandy,” and that he change the American version’s name to “Mrandy.”(Clive Davis was hoping to avoid comparisons to 70’s pop rocker’s Looking Glass, who were signed to his former subsidiary label Epic Records during his time heading up Columbia Records for CBS.) In spite of some initial resistance, Manilow agreed and the rest was history.
The rearranged “Mandy” was like magic for Manilow and his music career. It went on to become his first number 1 song, and started a trend that saw this otherwise remarkable composer finding great success as an artist that sings the songs of others. From then on, that little bit of magic was all he needed to find his way and become an unstoppable force in the music industry. Following “Mandy”, Barry Manilow released 56 other singles, and although he has slowed down on touring to focus on his personal life and spending time at home, he is set to release album number 29 called This Is My Town through with the Verve Music Group on April 21st.
So, In honor of Barry Manilow’s remarkable career that could never disappoint no matter who he loves, we celebrate “Mandy.” Enjoy!
From: Barry Manilow II