About Barry White
Barry White was born in 1944 in Texas, but grew up in a crime-flooded district of Los Angeles. One of his brothers was murdered by a rival gang member and Barry himself was jailed for theft at the age of 16. During his 4 months in jail, listening to Elvis Presley’s "It's Now or Never" changed the course of his life.
He turned his back on gang life and started working on his music career. Barry White sang in various groups and worked as A&R, songwriter, session musician and producer. In 1972, he discovered and produced the girl group "Love Unlimited". Their classic soul ballad "Walkin' in the Rain with the One I Love" became his first million selling single as a writer and producer. His signature voice can be heard on the song as the lover answering the phone. In 1974, he married lead singer Glodean James.
When Larry Nunes, a business man Barry was working with, heard a few songs that Barry had written and recorded as demos for another male singer, he convinced the Barry to re-record the songs and release them himself. Barry was very reluctant about the idea, but his first album turned out to be the first step into a huge career as a solo artist. The title track, "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby", quickly rose to the top of the Billboard R&B and Pop charts and was followed by many hits. His dark, soft and passionate voice made him famous as the "King of Soul" and his exquisite lyrics earned him the telling nickname "Mister Love".
The "Love Unlimited Orchestra" was created by Barry White in 1973. Originally put together as a backing band for Love Unlimited, it soon took another turn when the instrumental single "Love’s Theme", written by Barry, reached #1 of the Billboard Pop charts. It was followed by the orchestra’s first album, Rhapsody in White, and many more. The new way in which he seamlessly combined R&B with classical music is often credited to be the beginning of the disco era with "Love's Theme“ as the first disco hit.
Although his career took a hit with the end of the disco era in the 80s, he still maintained a very loyal following and the 90s brought another big boom for Barry. Thanks to a 1970s nostalgia and famous tv performances on "Ally McBeal" and "The Simpsons“, he reached the top once again with refreshed hits known from the 70s as well as new songs and won his first of three Grammys with the album "Staying Power" in 1999.
With his death in 2003, the world lost a big musical genius and pop icon. His music, however, is immortal. With 20 gold and 10 platinum singles as well as worldwide record sales in excess of 100 million records, Barry White remains one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Since all of his songs are about love, rumour has it that the incomparable Maestro is responsible for two thirds of today's population in the USA and the "Sea Life Aquarium" in London is still using his songs to encourage sharks to mate. The BBC obituary, referring to Barry White by his nickname, "The Walrus of Love", recalled a quote about "the rich timbres of one of the most distinctive soul voices of his generation […]: 'If chocolate fudge cake could sing, it would sound like Barry White.'"
Bear-strong and lowered
An authentic Barry-White-Show at the Pavillon
A Barry White Show without Barry White? How is that supposed to work? This is what soul fans must have been wondering when they first discovered the poster with a person not unlike Barry White. „Barry White Show – A Tribute To The Maestro with Sire and the Pleasure Unlimited Orchestra“, it said. So it’s a cover band. Thousands of them are out there, trying to emulate their idols as authentically as possible at scoring sprees and district festivities every weekend, be it AC/DC or Westernhagen. It can be done, but with Barry White it gets tricky. First of all, you have to find somebody who can sing like the must buzzing soul baritone voice of all times. Secondly, you have to put together an orchestra that can conserve the symphonic soul of the legendary Love Unlimited Orchestra with the same glamour, glory and, on top of that, funk. Despite all the doubt, the Pavillon is filled well (seated audience!). The audience, mostly female passed 50, is excited.
When the incredibly emphatic, growing string intro of the instrumental hit „Love Theme“ from the year 1973 starts, even White experts wonder: Is that coming from the record? No, on stage there really is a string quartet that knows exactly what this intro must sound like. And leads over to the rest of the band that consists of another 14 musicians. Indeed: The interplay of the horns, the two guitarists, the pushing pulse of the rhythm section – that is suspiciously close to the original sound. And wins the grace of the pessimists that expect a lukewarm infusion of the disco epoch.
And then a deep, very, very, very deep voice sounds from the off: „Ohhhhh, baby.“ With galant steps he sashays onto the stage: Sire, the best Barry White clone of the world. Sings like Barry White. And also looks just like him. A bear of a man. Round belly, loosely fitting satin suit, pony tail, cheek beard. And this the ladies world ecstasizing smile. What could go wrong anymore? The audience is electrified from the first second. Hit follows hit: "You’re The First, the Last, My Everything", "Ecstasy", "Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe", "Playing Your Game, Babe" and for the encore, of course, "Let the Music Play". Every time it gets faster, that is: disco fox compatible, (almost) the entire auditorium is on their feet.
The Pleasure Unlimited Orchestra, lead by the [...] US drummer James Simpson, plays the soundtrack to the blow-dried wave and bell bottom dominated youth of the target group. For two hours, it takes them into a world where only love matters. He liked the idea of babies being made to his music, Barry White once said. Here it shows: He didn’t have this thought without reason.
Source: Hannover Allgemeine Zeitung | No. 255
Date: Monday, 2nd of November 2015
Author: Bernd Schwope