I admit it... I'm a huge Barry Manilow fan. I've attended more various concerts than I can remember, but none compare to what Barry Manilow brings to his stage show. He is truly, the consummate showman. I've taken (dragged) people with me to see him and every single one of them left the show as a new fan.
"Sweet Life" is Barry's autobiography, written in 1987. He could easily update this book as his career has soared even more since it was written. Barry was raised by his grandparents and mother and didn't meet his father for many years. Growing up in Brooklyn, NY was not always easy for this scrawny kid, but his loving home was his refuge.
He was drawn to music at an early age, fascinated by the older performers of his parent's time more than the pop music that was heard on the radio. He was intrigued by the sounds of big bands and orchestras and wondered how they made such amazing music. He'd listen to a Chicago radio station late into the night, getting his fix of the music he loved.
He attended Julliard and worked any job to make a living. He married his high school sweetheart, but music was his real passion and the marriage was short-lived. Writing jingles was a way to make money and it came easy to him. Some of those commercials are still well known today, such as McDonald's "You Deserve A Break Today", State Farm's, "Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm Is There" and "I am Stuck On Bandaid", among others.
Barry's talent became well known in NYC and he was called upon to play piano for many performers. Among them was a young, raw, wild, brash woman named Bette Midler. Their collaboration was magical - Bette singing and performing in front and Barry, hidden behind his piano. They were as different as day and night. But, they made a great team. One night, Barry got a shot at singing during one of Bette's shows. The crowd went wild and Barry was soon on the path to a career he never could have imagined. It wasn't what he had dreamed of doing, but he was successuful and continued on. When "Mandy" became his first hit, life would never be the same.
Like many young people who make it big and suddenly have money to spend, Barry was no exception. He soon ended up broke while with his band, thousands of miles from home. They had no choice but to play their way back across the country.
His talent as a songwriter and arranger is well known. He's written for and performed with some of the biggest names in show business. He now performs in Las Vegas, tired of the exhausting tours that kept him from home for much of his life. Occasionally, he will do a few shows on the road, but the long tours are over.
As a fan, I was fortunate to see him perform dozens of times in various cities in the US and the UK. Every single show was different. He's a perfectionist and music is his life.
This book tells much more of Barry's journey on the way to "Mandy" and what followed in the years to come. It's very interesting and entertaining. No one jokes more about Barry than Barry himself. If you are a fan of his, do yourself a favor and read this book.