If producing hit after hit on the pop singles charts, as well as more than a score of highly-placed chart albums is any measure, then Barry Manilow surely is the Hitmaker of the Year for this year, as well as many of the last 15 or more. He is one of the very few major artists of superstar status to remain with the same record label for virtually his entire career (he recorded an album for another company in the mid-80’s but soon returned to Arista.)
Manilow has written literally hundreds of songs, including the material for more than 20 albums, and through the years of his career, he has won Grammy,
Emmy and Tony Awards, as well as an Oscar nomination.
In 1974, Manilow actually enjoyed his very first hit, “Mandy,” which was soon followed by “It’s a Miracle.” The tunes became the first of an unbroken string of hits for the young tunesmith and singer from Brooklyn. His prodigious output from then on had the unique result of making Manilow a favorite of virtually all contemporary music show circuits. He has appeared in small to medium size clubs, theaters, arenas of up to 20,000 capacity, Las Vegas and Atlantic City hotel supper clubs and on Broadway in sustained runs. Few other performers have had the opportunity to bring their music to such a broadly-based overall audience.
From a very early age, Manilow’s devotion to music had come into focus. At seven, he was taking accordion lessons and at the same time was tinkering on a neighbor’s piano. Later, he attended New York College of Music and Juilliard, while earning a living by working in the CBS mailroom. During his tenure at CBS, he was asked to arrange a group of songs for a musical adaptation of the melodrama, “The Drunkard.” Instead of arranging the tunes, he wrote an entire original score and the musical ran off-Broadway for eight years.
During those initial years of his quickly developing career, Manilow arranged and conducted the recording of a new theme for the CBS “Late Show” program. He also became active in writing, producing and singing in numerous radio and TV commercials. In the spring of 1972, Manilow met Bette Midler and soon became her musical director, arranger and accompanist. He co-produced her first album, the Grammy-winning “The Divine Miss M.,” as well as her second LP, “Bette Midler.”
Manilow began touring for the first time in 1974 and since then has enjoyed a string of 25 consecutive top 40 hits. In 1978, five of his albums were on the best-selling charts simultaneously, a feat equalled only by Frank Sinatra and Johnny Mathis.
For over 15 years, Manilow has been active as producer not only of albums but of Broadway andTelevision music productions. He has also toured the world as well and continues to this day his energetic schedule of performing, writing and producing.
This past year, for instance, saw the wind-up of the “Barry Manilow on Broadway” tour, which produced a number one music video documenting his much acclaimed performance. During the Christmas holiday season of 1990, Manilow’s “Because It’s Christmas” album reached the top slot of Billboard’s Christmas chart. The album was also certified gold.
Manilow is also socially conscious and active despite his pressured schedule. He has served as National Chairman for Youth and Voluntarism for United Way and contributed his song, “One Voice,” from the double platinum album of the same title, to be used as the national theme song for United Way of America. In February of 1988, Manilow was named Humanitarian of the Year by the Starlight Foundation, the international organization which grants wishes of chronically and terminally ill children. He was cited for his gift of music and for his many contributions to the children of the world. He has also served on the
Board of the Betty Clooney Foundation for Persons with Brain Injury.