Erotic, but never sleazy, Barry has one of the most distinctive voices in the history of soul music. He started working as a producer in the 60s, before his deep and sensual tones found their natural home on the disco grooves of the 70s. An icon for lovers everywhere.
Barry White, the legendary R&B singer whose smooth, deep baritone set the standard for romantic crooners for years to come, died Friday after a lengthy battle with numerous health problems. He was 58.
White passed away at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Friday morning, according to a spokesperson for the late singer. White suffered kidney failure last fall and had a stroke in May. He had been waiting for his health to improve in hopes of undergoing a kidney transplant.
"His generous nature, courtly manners and timeless music made him the most giving and sought-after human being I’ve ever known,” White’s longtime manager, Ned Shankman, said.
White’s voice - at once booming and tender - seemed an extension of his imposing presence. The singer’s large frame seemed matched only by his charisma and his talent. His career spanned more than three decades, but he is perhaps best known as the velvet voice behind such classics as “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” and “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything.”
White’s first foray into music came at age 16 when he recorded the song “Little Girl” with the group the Upfronts. He later worked as an A&R rep (with the 5th Dimension and the Bobby Fuller Four) and as a producer (putting together Love Unlimited). Soon White began working on demos of his own, which eventually yielded his first album, 1973’s [I]I’ve Got So Much to Give[/I].
White then joined forces with Love Unlimited, rechristened it the Love Unlimited Orchestra, and began to churn out a string of hits that made him one of the most successful R&B artists of the ‘70s. Songs like “It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me,” “You See the Trouble With Me,” “I’ll Do for You Anything You Want Me To” and “Love Serenade” established White and Love Unlimited as the music of choice for many a romantic evening through the disco era.
The ‘80s brought a handful of less successful albums and eventually a hiatus for White. However, he re-emerged in the ‘90s with the albums [I]The Man Is Back, The Right Night & Barry White[/I] and [I]Put Me in Your Mix[/I]. Despite his early success, White would not win his first Grammy Award until 2000, for his album [I]Staying Power[/I].
White was preparing a “duets” album for release on Def Soul later this year.
White is survived by eight children: La nece, Deniece, Nina, Shehera, Barriana , Barry Jr., Darrell, and his stepson, McKevin. He is also survived by his companion (and the mother of Barriana), Catherine Denton.
Report from MTV News
A few words about Barry White
Born on 12 September 1944, Galveston, Texas, USA. Raised in Los Angeles, White immersed himself in the local music fraternity while still very young, playing piano on Jesse Belvin’s hit, “Goodnight My Love”, at the age of 11.
Barry made several records during the early 60s, under his own name, as “Barry Lee”, and as a member of the Upfronts, the Atlantics and the Majestics. However, he found a greater success as a backroom figure, guiding the careers of, amongst others, Felice Taylor and Viola Wills.
In 1969 White put together Love Unlimited, a female vocal trio made up of Diane Taylor, Glodean James (his future wife) and her sister Linda. He also founded the Love Unlimited Orchestra, a 40-piece ensemble to accompany himself and the singing trio, for which he conducted, composed and arranged. Love Unlimited’s success in 1972 with “Walkin’ In The Rain With The One I Love”, featuring White’s gravelly, passion-soaked voice on the telephone, rejuvenated Barry’s own career, during which he scored major US hits with “I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby”, “Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up” (both 1973), “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe” and “You’re The First, The Last, My Everything” (both 1974) all of which proved just as popular in the UK.
With these, the artist established a well-wrought formula where catchy pop/soul melodies were fused to sweeping arrangements and the singer’s husky growl.
The style quickly verged on self-parody as the sexual content of the lyrics grew more explicit, but although his pop hits lessened towards the end of the 70s, he remained the idolatry subject of live performances. The singer’s last major US hit was 1977’s Top 5 “It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me”. The following year he graced the UK Top 20 with a cover version of Billy Joel’s “Just The Way You Are”. He later undertook several recordings with Glodean White, but experienced a fallow period before returning to the UK Top 20 in 1987 with “Sho’ You Right”. The subject of critical approbation, particularly with reference to his large frame, White’s achievements during the peak of his career, in securing gold and platinum discs for worldwide sales, should not be underestimated. The UK singer Lisa Stansfield has often voiced her approval of White’s work and in 1992, she and White re-recorded a version of Stansfield’s hit, “All Around The World”. During the 90s, a series of commercially successful albums proved White’s status as more than just a cult figure.
Discography: I’ve Got So Much To Give (20th Century 1973)***, Stone Gon’ (20th Century/Pye 1973)***, Can’t Get Enough (20th Century 1974)****, Just Another Way To Say I Love You (20th Century 1975)***, Let The Music Play (20th Century 1976)***, Is This Whatcha Wont? (20th Century 1976)***, Barry White Sings For Someone You Love (20th Century 1977)***, Barry White The Man (20th Century 1978)***, The Message Is Love (Unlimited Gold 1979)***, I Love To Sing The Songs I Sing (20th Century 1979)**, Barry White’s Sheet Music (Unlimited Gold 1980)**, The Best Of Our Love (Unlimited Gold 1981)**, with Glodean James Barry And Glodean (Unlimited Gold 1981)***, Change (Unlimited Gold 1982)**, Dedicated (Unlimited Gold 1983)**, The Right Night And Barry White (A&M/Breakout 1987)**, The Man Is Back! (A&M 1989)**, Put Me In Your Mix (A&M 1991)***, The Icon Is Love (A&M 1994)**, Staying Power (Private 1999)***.
Compilations: Barry White’s Greatest Hits (20th Century 1975)****, Barry White’s Greatest Hits Volume 2 (20th Century 1977)***, Heart And Soul (K-Tel 1985)**, Satin & Soul (Connoisseur 1987)***, The Collection (Polydor/Mercury 1988)****, Satin & Soul Vol. 2 (Connoisseur 1990)**, Just For You 3-CD box set (A&M 1992)***, All-Time Greatest Hits (PolyGram 1995)***, Boss Soul: The Genius Of Barry White (Del-Fi 1998)***, Soul Seduction (Spectrum 2000)***, The Ultimate Collection (Universal 2000)****.
Bibliography: Love Unlimited: Insights On Life & Love, Barry White with Marc Eliot.
Filmography: Coonskin aka Streetfight (1974), Why Colors? voice only (1992).