BARRY WHITE (1944 – 2003)
'The walrus of love'.
Barry White was born in Galveston, Texas, but raised in Los Angeles. He was involved in the local music community while still very young, playing piano on Jesse Belvin's hit 'Goodnight My Love' at the age of 11. Barry recorded his first record when he was 16 with a group called the Upfronts. The song was called 'Little Girl' on a local L.A. label called Lummtone Records. Barry made several records during the early 60's, under his own name, as Barry Lee, and as a member of the Atlantics, the Majestics as well as the Upfronts.
Following on Barry worked for various independent labels around Los Angeles. He was also a producer and road manager for Bob and Earl. Barry took an A & R position with Bob Keene, the man who first recorded Sam Cooke. He was hired for 40 dollars a week to do A&R for Keene's other labels, Mustang and Bronco. Barry recorded a record for Bronco called 'All In The Run Of A Day.' One of the first groups he worked with was the Versatiles who later became the 5th Dimension. Barry found a great success as a backroom figure, guiding the careers of, among others, Felice Taylor, recording 'It May Be Winter Outside,' 'I'm Under the Influence of Love,' and 'I Feel Love Coming On', and Viola Wills.
In 1969, he put together Love Unlimited, a female vocal trio made up of Diana 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 his voice on the telephone, rejuvenated Barry's own career. The hits followed including 'I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More', 'Never, Never Gonna Give You 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 popular in the UK and the USA alike. Barry had a major hit in 1978 with Billy Joel's song 'Just The Way You Are'. He later undertook several recordings with Glodean White before returning to the UK Top 20 in 1987 with 'Sho' You Right'.
Barry's achievements during the peak of his career, in securing gold and platinum discs for worldwide sales is impressive. In 1990, he was a featured vocalist on the Quincy Jones project 'Back On The Block', contributing to the song 'The Secret Garden'. Lisa Stansfield has often voiced her approval of Barry's work and in 1992, she and he re-recorded a version of Stansfield's hit 'All Around The World'. In 1999, Barry returned with 'Staying Power' containing the popular 'Which Way Is Up'. He, also, took a cameo role in the television series Ally McBeal, where his recordings were pivotal to many of the series storylines. Barry's godson is the singer and songwriter Chuckii Booker.
In 2002, Barry was admitted into hospital and underwent kidney dialysis following kidney failure after suffering years of high blood pressure. Barry had suffered two strokes, the latest of which occurred in May 2003. Barry White, who had suffered kidney failure from years of high blood pressure, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, Los Angeles, around 9.30am local time, on the 4th of July 2003, said his manager Ned Shankman. He was 58.
Barry White, singer, songwriter and record producer: born September 12, 1944 – died July 4, 2003.