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19 December 2016

Biography: Barry White

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Born in Galveston, TX, Barry White grew up singing gospel songs with his mother and taught himself to play piano. Shortly after moving from Texas to South Central Los Angeles, White made his recording debut at the tender age of 11, playing piano on Jesse Belvin’s “Goodnight My Love.” He made 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. Later he worked for various independent labels around Los Angeles, landing an A&R position with Bob Keane, the man responsible for the first pop recordings by Sam Cooke. One of his labels, Mustang, was hot at the time with a group called the Bobby Fuller Four in 1966. White was hired for 40 dollars a week to do A&R for Keane’s family of labels: Del-Fi, Mustang and Bronco. One of the first groups he worked with was the Versatiles who later changed their name to the 5th Dimension. White’s first big hit came from an artist familiar to dancefloor denizens, Viola Wills, whose “Lost Without the Love of My Guy” went Top 20 R&B. White started working with the Bobby Fuller Four. Bob Keene and Larry Nunes (who later became White’s spiritual advisor and true friend) wanted to cut a female act. White had heard about a singer named Felice Taylor. They had three hit records, “It May Be Winter Outside”, “I’m Under the Influence of Love” and “I Feel Love Coming On”. They were huge hits in England.

During the course of his career in the music business, White achieved 106 gold albums worldwide, 41 of which also attained platinum status. White had 20 gold and 10 platinum singles, with worldwide record sales in excess of 100 million. He is one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time. His influences included Rev. James Cleveland, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin,  Elvis Presley, Motown artists: The Supremes,The Four Tops and Marvin Gaye.

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