One of his nicknames was “Mr. Love. “Because with his velvety, vibrating voice and his soulful cuddly songs, he provided countless couples with the ideal musical background for romantic hours for two in the seventies. As disco music in the late 1970sousted soul from the charts, he decided to take a “compulsory break” of around 20 years and only made an impressive return in the 1990s with his old hits’ newly arranged cover songs. We’re talking about the “King of Soul”, Barry White. But his comeback was short-lived. The pianist, producer, songwriter, and singer with the soulful, unmistakable voice, who composed the intricate rhythm and string accompaniments for his songs himself, died of kidney failure at only 58.
Barry White was born on September 12, 1944, Born in Galveston, Texas, under Barrence Eugene Carter’s name, the maiden name of his mother, Sadie Carter. His father was Melvin White. Young White spent his childhood in Watts, a suburb of Los Angeles, where his mother worked as a piano teacher. From here, he learned to play the piano and discovered his love for music at an early age.
At the age of eleven, he accompanied Jesse Belvin to his song “Goodnight My Love” on the piano. And if it had been up to his mother, the gifted boy would have become a celebrated pianist.
But in puberty, completely different interests came into play. According to his biography, at the age of 14, Barry White experienced his voice break twice in a row – once to tenor and then to deep bass. And like so many teenagers, his head was full of nonsense at this time: At 15, he left high school prematurely without graduating. At the age of 16, he stole car tires with friends and ended up in prison at 17, serving a five-month sentence. During this time, Barry White later said in an interview. He heard the song “It’s Now or Never” by Elvis Presley on the radio and then decided to At the beginning of the 1960s, he began to put this idea into practice – in the first few years under the name “Berry Lee”. Among other things, he was a member of the bands “The Majestics”, “The Atlantics” and “The Upfronts”, although the successes were still very subdued. When he founded his first own band, the “Love Unlimited”, and supervised it as a producer, the response was already much greater. The songs for the female vocal trio all came from his pen, as well as the arrangements. He only acted as a background singer. He married one of the singers of that time, Glodean James, in October 1975. The group’s biggest hits were “Walkin ‘In The Rain With The One I Love” and “From A Girl’s Point of View.” The latter song, in particular, brought the breakthrough and sold over a million times. The versatile musician also published instrumental titles under the name “Love Unlimited Orchestra,” for example, “Love’s Theme” (1973), for which he even received a prize, the BMI Award, for the first time.
But despite all his successes, he was not satisfied artistically. He was stuck with “Love Unlimited” in a contract with MCA to have preferred to get out of today rather than tomorrow. He then decided to write songs for others. When an acquaintance, Larry Nunes, heard a demo tape with him, on which he sang and accompanied himself on the piano, the latter urged him to record the song himself and publish it under his name. And so, after some back and forth, his first album, “I’ve Got So Much To Give,” was released in 1973 on 20th Century Records – now under the name Barry White.
From 1973 to 1975, Barry White wrote a total of eleven albums and produced hit after hit. With the song “I Love to Sing The Songs I Sing,” he fulfilled his record deal with 20th Century Records and switched to CBS Records, the then industry giant, as a new distribution partner. At the same time, he founded his record label, “Gold Unlimited,” under which he released albums of his musical protégés. The “King of Soul” was at the height of his career. But at the end of the 1970s, the era of the soul was over for the time being. The disco fever had broken out, and so was Barry.
White retired from the stage and dedicated himself to his job as a songwriter and producer. In 1983 he suffered a private stroke of fate – his brother Darryl was shot dead during an altercation. In the early 1990s, he changed the record label again and went to A&M. “The Icon Is Love” was released there in 1994 and suddenly catapulted him back into the hit Olympus, as he knew him from the 1970s. With “Practice What You Preach,” he went platinum, and in 1996, he sang the song “In Your Wildest Dreams” in a duet with Tina Turner. He also refreshed other of his hits with new arrangements and other artists. He made headlines, among other things, through his guest appearances in the TV series “Ally McBeal”. In 1999 he brought “Staying Power” onto the market and was honored with two Grammys.
Nobody suspected then the overweight musician has suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes all his life. In 2002, he announced that he needed a kidney transplant to survive. During dialysis, he suffered a stroke in May 2003 and was paralyzed on one side afterward. He also had speech disorders, so that he had to give up his career as a singer.
On July 4, 2003, Barry White died of kidney failure at the age of 58 after waiting in vain for months for a donor kidney at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. His ashes were buried in the ocean off the coast of Santa Monica, California. Barry White had received more than 100 gold records in his short life and sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. In 2004 he was posthumously inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame.