MY LIFE AS A FANILOW

I’ve been a fan of Barry Manilow ever since I first heard “Mandy” on the radio back in 1974. But what really cemented my love for Barry as a performer was seeing him that year on the PBS show, “Soundstage,” which was his TV debut. It was my first glimpse into his humor and showmanship, and with the release of his great second album, “Trying To Get The Feeling,” I truly became a fan for life.

During Barry’s tour to promote “This One’s For You,” I got my first chance to see him live at a concert in Reading, PA. A few minutes into the show, annoying feedback came roaring out of the speakers. Manilow immediately began a comical strip tease to amuse the audience. The audio problem was soon fixed, and I believe it led Barry and his band to put on an extra special show, which would become the first of six Manilow concerts I would attend over the years.

After I moved to Los Angeles and started working at dick clark productions, I had a chance to work as a production assistant on Barry’s TV movie, “Copacabana,” but only for one day. I didn’t get near Manilow that day, although I did have a chance to talk to co-star Estelle Getty for a while.

Over the next few years, I saw Barry in concert twice more at the Universal Amphitheater, once on New Year’s Eve and again during a great show where he projected his various album covers on a screen and brought audience members up to use a remote to stop on an album. Whatever album it was, Barry would do a selection of songs from it. We were lucky enough that one of the albums was “Barry Manilow Live” and Barry played the great but rarely heard “Studio Musician.”

A few years later, I finally got my chance to talk to Barry when he did a roundtable interview with a number of journalists to promote his “Here At The Mayflower” album. Naturally I took along a pile of items to get autographed after the interview. First I passed Barry a copy of his autobiography, “Sweet Life.” While he signed it, he said, “I hope I don’t see this on E-Bay.” But when I next gave him a concert program from 1978, he knew I was a real fan.

When Barry settled in at the Las Vegas Hilton for his “Music And Passion” shows, I knew I would have to go. I went on my birthday three years ago and got a chance to go backstage after the show. It was a small meet and greet, just four people in all alone with Barry in the green room. Barry told us how happy he was to be playing in Vegas, because it meant he could fly home to Palm Springs every night and be in bed in time to catch “The Tonight Show.”

One of the guys at the meet and greet was a performer in “We Will Rock You,” the Queen show at Paris Las Vegas, so talk turned to the chances of success for the various Broadway transplants opening on the Strip. Soon our time with Barry was over, and I paid for not carrying a camera, missing my chance to get a photo with Barry.

I saw “Music And Passion” again for my birthday last year. The friend I took was a hard rock fan, yet Barry won her over. She really enjoyed herself and admitted he was a great performer.

Now Barry is playing Staples Center here in L.A. on Valentine’s Day. I’ll be missing this one, but if you have a chance to go, I highly recommend it.

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One Response to “MY LIFE AS A FANILOW”

  1. Foxx Says:

    I remember my introduction to Barry was the movie Copacabana. After watching, my sister bought the album. We play acted to the song all the time.

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