Growing up with a tough upbringing, music was Manilow's only solace. At the age of seven he learned to play the accordion and the piano, and after sampling a taste of the music world, he decided he wanted to be in it. By the year of his barmitzvah he was singing.
Manilow, who grew up in a Jewish family in Brooklyn, started his career by writing the entire original score of a musical adaption of The Drunkard – even though he was only asked to arrange songs. The musical ran for eight years at an off-Broadway venue.
It was his friendship with Bette Midler that really sent him on the path to stardom, when she hired him as her pianist and musical director. He seized the opportunity to showcase his music at one of her shows in 1972, was scouted and offered a record deal.
After a few false starts, he reluctantly recorded the pop tune Mandy in 1974. The song became a number one hit.
It is still one of his best known records, closely followed by Could It Be Magic and Copacabana.
Now, at 67, he has released several greatest songs albums and is still making music.
What the JC said: Barry Manilow appears at the top of a ramp and slowly descends through clouds of dry ice like a heaven-sent angel in a white suit. There's a massive roar from a near-hysterical audience as they rise to their feet to welcome the "man who writes the songs"…Barry is rich and famous beyond the dreams of the Jewish kid from Brooklyn, who always wanted to make it in showbiz. He has sold over 50 million records, and, no less remarkably, has managed to stay wrinkle-free. And for countless fans from Golders Green to Guatemala – overwhelmingly, women fans – he is an obsession.
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