Barry Alan Pincus changed his name to Barry Manilow, and turned himself into a popular pop singer and songwriter, with his elaborate ballads of romantic love. Born on June 17, 1943 in Brooklyn, NY, Manilow started playing music at a young age, and got his big break in the 1970s.
Barry Manilow has always had a keen interest in jazz and Broadway tunes, thanks to his stepfather. He lived in a poor neighborhood in Brooklyn, where he was born to a lower-class family. When Barry was just two years old, his father left the family, and his mother later changed her name to Barry’s. The young Manilow started playing the piano and the accordion when he was still a child, becoming an exceptional musician. He later studied advertising at City College of New York but later joined New York College of Music (now part of New York University) and Juilliard School of Music for further music classes.
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Manilow worked in the mail room at CBS to fund his schooling, and started doing jobs for the local TV station for the network. He ended up being the music director for a talent show in 1967. By the early 70s, he had worked on an Off-Broadway show with his compositions and arrangements, and had jingles for national commercials broadcast on television. Manilow met Bette Midler as a piano accompanist in nightclubs, and became her music director. He went on to co-produce her first two albums.
Between 1973 and 1974, Manilow released his first album Barry Manilow (later renamed Barry Manilow I). The eclectic collection of songs initially sold poorly, but Barry Manilow II (1974) was a huge success thanks to the florid ballad “Mandy,” which hit the top of the Billboard charts. Following this string of popular albums were other hits like “I Write the Songs” (1975), which although he did not write, was a sentimental song. Then came “Looks Like We Made It” (1976) and “Copacabana (At the Copa)” (1978), both disco-influenced songs that were Grammy Award winners for best male pop vocal performance. An excellent entertainer, Manilow was often performing around this time. Manilow has been awarded two Emmys for his work in television specials, both awarded in the late 1970s. He also was given a special Tony Award for a concert that he put on on Broadway in 1976-77, which sold more than three million copies of the live album that it was associated with.
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