BARRY MANILOW CAN'T WRITE SONGS WITH LIVE-IN LOVE - SO SHE'S OUT
Barry Manilow, the superstar singer who penned and crooned the hit tune I WRITE THE SONGS, has realized that he can't write songs with a live-in girlfriend around. That's why he's decided to call it a day (and a night) with his sweet-heart, Linda Allen. She's moved out of the Bel Air home they had been sharing for a year.
"Barry needs to focus all his attention on his career," says a source close to the sensitive star. "He seems to have found that a woman and a career don't go hand in hand. He's redecorating his home, and one of the first things he moved out was Linda."
A friend adds: "The pressures of the business have put impossible strains on Barry. His album is behind schedule and he has his hands full with all the work going on at his house. It just seems like he doesn't really have the time to devote to a fullfledged relationship." Now music has become his mistress. Linda 43, went on a concert tour through England and Ireland with the 42-year-old singer-composer a few months ago. "Barry throught it was a good friend, but he soon realized that woman take up a lot of time."
"Linda's a bright, wonderful person - so is Barry - but sometimes the chemistry just isn't tight." Linda moved in with Manilow just in time for them to spend Christmas 1987 together. Now that the romance has died, she's moving back to New York City, her hometown.
She and Manilow tried to rekindle the relationship they had a few years ago, but it didn't work, says another intimate. "They'll always be friends because they've shared so many years of their lives as on and off lovers. But some-times people have to be smart enough to know when enough is enough."
"They gave it the old college try and it didn't work. So they're parting while they're still friends."
Manilow, who sings love songs to the woman of the world, once wrote a tune called, I NEVER WROTE A SONG FOR LINDA, then dedicated it to her. "Linda feels bad," says the friend. "She wanted it to work this time. She and Barry are soulmates. They understand each other. But he's a perfectionist. He thinks a man can have only one main interest at a time. The best thing is, they're perting friends. He'll always be there for Linda and she'll always be there for him, but the relationsip is over. It's a new year, time to tie up loose ends. It's too bad because everyone thinks they make a great couple."
Linda and Manilow have been involved several times during the last 10 years. "They move in together, they get a pet, they pledge undying love, then something goes wrong," says a Manilow source. "But they keep coming back to each other. Maybe this will just be another respite before they get another new pet and try it again. I think Barry realized when they were on the road that it was the beginning of the end. He needs a lot of space and private time. That's just how he is. Most woman want to be involved, and there's just no way Linda can be as involved as he is. That's their main problem. Linda is a writer/producer and very creative. But she can't put herself into the music world, and that's the downfall of a beautiful relationship." .
'I am a romantic. Maybe I am just either stupid or brave enough to say this is how I feel'
Just the name Barry Manilow conjures up images of something big, sticky and saccharine. His typical smash songs, such as "Could It Be Magic," have a billowy, cotton-candy melody with secret hooks that cling to the ear long after the music has stopped. But think what you will about Manilow - and few people are neutral on the subject - the guy has made (and lost) several mints over the past 15 years. Starting with "Mandy" in 1974, he hit the Top 40 with 18 consecutive singles. He has won a Tony (for his 1977 Uris Theatre show), an Emmy (for his TV special in 1977) and a Grammy (for "Copacabana" in 1979). Over the years, Manilow has demonstrated the rare ability consistently to please a crowd.
On opening night of his recently completed Broadway run at the Gershwin Theatre, be brought the adoring audience to its feet seven times, and more than a few touched fans dabbed their teary eyes with hankies.
Manilow has a new self-titled album out too. It's stacked with the grand paeans to love, loneliness and heartbreak for which he is best known. The technical quality is 1989, but the themes are vintage. The album is a big wet one for his legion of die-hard fans around the world. Hipper artists have come and gone, while "Mandy" keeps packin' them in.
Manilow, who started his current world tour two years ago, now plans to resume his travels by taking a whole new show around the globe. But it seems the ovations and platinum records are not enough these days. The songwriter's current challenge seems to be earning the "man" in Manilow.
. He showed up for two separate interview sessions wearing the same black cap. Shades of the Dark Knight. He might have made a more menacing specter if he weren't still a nice Brooklyn kid who seems somewhat astonished at his own good luck and success.
Now 43, he felt the need at the callow age of 41 to issue a memoir of his roller-coaster ride called "Sweet Life: Adventures on the Way to Paradise." It is, a frank and charming account of the rise and fall of his fortunes, from the tribulations of growing up without a father (his dad - Harold Kelliher, a truck driver - and mother, Edna, divorced when Barry was 2) to his star-crossed days with Bette Midler (as her musical director and pianist) to the trauma of his mother's several suicide attempts (once after Barry eloped with his high school sweetheart at age 21; their marriage lasted one year). If the autobiography consistently tells his side and has a happy ending, well, that's his song. And he gets points for writing it without resorting to the common celebrity-ghostwriter technique.
Not long ago Barry got the nod to appear on Late Night with David Letterman - a pretty good barometer of cultiral hipness - and he came off well. In his Broadway show he even rendered an oom-pah-pah version of Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." Sitting in his Manhatten hotel room, Bruce he ain't, but like the canny cabaret cat he is, Manilow knows it is hard to lose when you can get them laughing.
Critics over the years have been pretty hard on you. How do you take it?
Well, I agree with all the criticism at first. I mean, I am as insecure as the next guy. So as soon as I read that I am a putz, I agree. You know: They found me out. I can't sing, I write terrible and all that other stuff. I can go from being this huge egomaniac to one person criticizing me and I just fall apart. But I can tell you that before a critic writes a putdown, I have already looked in the mirror and put myself down. But I compliment myself, too. One has to have a pretty big ego in order to survive in this business. Someone advised me to stare at myself in the mirror and accept all of my flaws and faults and, you know, sometimes that works.
What do you think is the greatest public misconception of Barry Manilow?
That I'm not cool. I always thought of myself as a very contemporary person and a musical snob. And when people started describing me as the new Wayne Newton or whatever, I was shocked. I couldn't believe they were talking about me. Maybe it is changing a hair. It really doesn't matter; I am what I am. Maybe there is a part of me that is all glitzy and all that other stuff. That's incomplete. People see this picture of a guy in a silly Copacabana jacket and they think that is me. But if I am unhappy about that perception, it is up to me to do something about that.
With your jazz albums you seems to make an effort to show that there is more to Barry Manilow than romantic ballads?
That's my job. I came out with "Mandy," but that doesn't mean that is the only thing I am capable of doing. People can't know everything about you from one piece of work or project because we're all made up of a million different pieces.
How did you come to write your autobiography at such a young age?
The original concept of my book was going to be like a little mosaic of anecdotes. But when it started turning into a bona fide autobiogrphy, I said, "What are we talking about here? I am not old enough." For a long time the book was called Who Gives a S---? I wasn't really behind it until the whole thing began to come togehter. But I kept writing and read the galleys as they came back and I kept saying, "Well, it's not Lillian Hellman, but it's not bad."
Why do you think that woman connect more with your music than men do?
I've always figured that was normal because since I am a guy I would just naturally have mainly a girl audience. But I am a romantic, not a rock & roller. Maybe I am just either stupid or brave enough to say this is how I feel.
You don't hide the fact that you are trying to touch people?
Hide? I am going at it 100 miles an hour. That's the only thing I want to do. I don't give a s___ if they tap their feet; I want to move them. The only reason I am in this business is to be near the magic. And if I can't have it thrown at me, I'll create it for other people. What always killed me were not just the cerebral moments, but the emotional moments as well.
How did you start bringing somebody out of the audience to sing "Can't Smile Without You" as a duet?
I have been doing that for like eight years, and it has never failed. I've had all sorts of things happen. In Japan I picked a person who couldn't understand English, but when the music started, she sang "Can't Smile Without You" in perfect English with my Brooklyn accent. It brought tears to my eyes.
Why do you think there is such a link between musicans and life's excesses?
Because you can get anything you want once you are the star. It is really up to you to be strong enough to say,"I don't need that; I don't want that." A lot of people aren't. I was offered anything I wanted, but I chose not to. I give credit to the fact that my stardom came late in life, and I had already formed my personality. If I was going to be a junkie at 19 or 20. My excesses came in other ways, but drugs never got me.
What's the effect of having gone broke earlier in your career? Do you feel stupid for having done it?
You got it. The first time I was able to forgive myself because I had taken all my money and invested it into my art. You've got to invest in yourself if you really want to make it. But the second time, it was a shock to me. I wasn't on top of my own affairs. I trusted people with all that money that had been coming in. I signed things away. From that moment on, I took responsibility for just about everything in my life. And I am back on my feet.
A few years ago your mother, Edna, was diagnosed as having cancer. How is she doing these days?
Great! You know, lung cancer - every time she gets a pain we panic. But she is in the greatest shape she has ever been in. She had radiation treatments and she's in remission. I got her this book "Love, Medicine & Miracles," by Bernie Siegel, and that is the Bible for her. She does what it says and she is a lot better. Of course you never know with cancer, but we cross our fingers.
Did she smoke?
All her life.
Do you smoke?
No. Not for 12 years now.
What is life like between you and Linda Allen, with whom you live?
She's a set designer for movies. It seems to me that we are both gone at the same time and we are back at the same time. I don't know whether it is just luck or what, but it's been happening like that for the last four years or so.
What's she like?
Linda is a great girl. We have been together for a long time. She is funny; she's smart; she is pretty. I don't know how I have changed her life, but she has made me more solid and given me much more security. She represents other things to me than showbiz and music.
How do you feel about coming back to New York City, where you grew up?
I think New York has changed for the worse. I mean, my memories of New York are fantastic, but when I get here it is not what I want. People are rude. It stinks. People are crammed up against each other. The traffic is so negative, obnoxious and noisy. I used to call it energy; now it is not so much energy as pressure. It makes me crazy.
What do you read?
I play a game with myself. I try to have read the Top 10 books on New York Times best-seller lists. I don't always make it because there are a lot of ladies' books on it that I just can't get, like Danielle Steel. I just loved "The Bonfire of the Vanities" by Tom Wolfe. "The Prince of tides" by Pat Conroy was one of the few books in my life that actually made me cry. Now I'm slowly going through "The Power of Myth," based on Joseph Campbell's interviews with Bill Moyers.
You're not seen out much in Hollywood. Whom do you hang out with?
It's not my thing. I can't name you a list of people that you would know. I hang out with my close, close, close friends. They are not stars. I guess the closest I might come to a star would be like Melissa [Manchester].
How about Bette Midler?
I co-wrote a song for her for the movie Oliver & Campany called "Perfect Isn't Easy, but It's Me." It was fun to be with her in the studio, and we still talk. She called when my book came out, and when my mother came down with cancer I called her and said, "Okay, how do I get through this?" I am a big admirer of her as a human being and as an artist.
Straight talk. Honesty. Commitment. Great qualities. I admire them; I envy them; I aspire to them. I hope I picked up some of them from her. She is committed to everything she decides to do. I have never seen her lie, never. And especially in her heart.
What about religion?
I was raised Jewish, but I never really connected with it. Recently I have gotten more and more curious about the spiritual part of life. I believe in God, and I am trying to become a more spiritual man, but the Jewish religion turned me off for so many years, learned was that if I wasn't good, God would punish me. I was trained in the school of wagging their finger at you and discipline.
Why would anybody want to worship some entity that was going to punish them, anyway? That really never made sense to me. So I sort of let the whole thing go. When I hit 40 I asked myself all of those same questions about the meaning of life that I heard everybody else asking themselves, and I had no answers. I have been into meditating these days, and there is a peacefulness I am after. I got to the point where I could say I am okay as a person, but then you say there has got to be something that transcends the cult of personality. I mean I am on this little spiritual path looking for stuff.
What are you afraid of?
I am not crazy about the crawlies. I might even say I have a phobia about crawlies.
Yeah. I was raised around too many of them. I am kind of a cleanliness freak.
What is your house like in Los Angeles?
You know my new next-door neighbor is Ronald Reagan.
Some ritzy neighborhood?
I thought it was pretty hot, but there is Secret Service all over the place. I always know when they are coming home because of all the helicopters. If I am out there sunbathing in the nude, I go, "S---, the Reagans are coming home." But, who knows, maybe they will invite me over for dinner one night.
Whom, among your peers, do you really admire?
Sting is my hero. I mean, if you mention my name to him, he'd probadly give you ten put-downs about Barry Manilow. But it doesn't matter because I just know that he is a hero. He is an inspiration to all of us and to me especially. I just keep yelling "hurray" for him.
Let's talk about some others. How about Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice?
I think they are just horrible. I don't like what's happened to Broadway and I blame them for it. I would much rather have seen Broadway go in the direction Stephen Sondheim was trying to kick us all in instead of going in the direction of Disney on Ice.
He's my favorite singer. Don't tell Sinatra. I connect with him because of the heart. There's no bulls---.
She's not the most beautiful woman in the world, and yet she makes me believe that she is gorgeous sometimes. She is not the greatest singer, but she pulls it off. And she isn't the best musican, but she pulls it off. She bases her career on chutzpah and I give her a pat on the back for that.
He was the best of his kind. One time I had the chance to sing "Only the Lonely" with the original Nelson Riddle charts and it was one of the thrills of my life. That night at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion I had an out-of-body experience.
While you were idolizing Nelson Riddle, a lot of people were into Elvis?
Never got into it.
Not musical enough. Springsteen has trouble holding my interest too, because he is not musical enough. I just never got into the rock & roll thing as much as other people did. I know a lot of people will hang me for saying that, but being the musical snob that I am, I can take just so much of four chords.
You're not identified with social issues as a performer.
No, things like "We Are the World" are not me. By the way, they never asked me. Groups are just not my thing. But I did "I Made It Trough the Rain." You should see the letters.
What is your favorite city?
Paris. You know, if I hadn't become a pop singer, I would have been happy playing the piano in some bistro in Paris. But when I retire I'll probably join the rest of my Jewish cohorts down in Miami. I have a glorious mansion on a hill in Bel Air overlooking this canyon with mountains and sky. That's fine for now, believe me. But eventually I want to move to the ocean. I want to be an old fart and rock on my deck overlooking the ocean.
by Carl Wayne Arrington, photography by Timothy White
Now Frank Sinatra's dead, you're No 1 crooner. How do you cope?
Stardom can make you go out of control. You spend the first few years being an idiot. But if you don't do drugs, drink or lose all your friends, you get yourself back. For me that period didn't last that long, but I certainly made a lot of enemies. Now I have a lot of fans - the greatest, most loyal bunch in the world. I get fan attention everywhere I go, but it's never a problem. I love them.
Is your girlfriend Linda Allen jealous?
Linda is the greatest pe min I have ever met. She knows I love her very much. She understands completely. Linda tends to be on the road a lot working on movies but we make as much time for each other as we can.
Do you think you'll marry?
I was married once at 21 but it lasted less than a year. I was raised around unhappy marriages - my mother, grandparents, relatives. I guess it was inevitable mine would fail. I left because I felt I was suffocating. Now I'm happy but I don't want a wedding. Marriage is just a piece of paper and I don't think I need it.
Why have you never had any children?
I love kids but raising them is a big responsibility and my career is so demanding. Growing up with a young mother was fun. If I had a kid now I'd be one of those older parants and I don't think that's such a good idea.
Do you have any fears?
The biggest fear is that one day I will lose all my money. I grew up in a really tough part of New York. I was an only child raised by my mother. Things were very hard. If you asked a taxi driver to take you to my childhood home now, he'd drive off. There's always a little voice at the back of my head saying: 'Watch what you're spending. You're going to go broke and end up back in Brooklyn.'
But you're very rich now, aren't you?
For years I wasn't. I'd been making hits for a decade and was convinced I had a fortune. I never bothered to look at my accounts until one morning I was told I only had $11,000 (about £8000) in the bank after selling 50 million records. I was the victim of bad business advice, but luckily I could start again. But money has its problems. I once rented a beautiful house in Florida. I was looking at the ocean when I realised I didn't have anybody around me who I wasn't paying to be there. There was no one to talk to, no one to share with. I had the money and success but little else.
Was that the lowest point in your life?
No. My mum tried to kill herself three times when I was younger. I thought it must be my fault. I felt helpless and terribly sad because I loved her like crazy. She was my black-haired beauty. She eventually died from cancer in 1994. I still miss her.
Are you happy with your looks?
Growing up was a gawky, skinny kid with buck teeth and a big Adam's apple. I was someone the girls never asked out. I think I turned out OK but I'm nothing to write home about. But I've never doubted I was hip. I'm the hippest person you will ever meet.
Do you get upset when people make fun of you?
The ridicule I get from some quarters about my music - and me personally - still hurts. It's hard to put up a shield when people call you 'marshmallow' or 'talentless' and say you can't sing. I write nice songs but I admit I'm only a fair singer. You can hear my mistakes, but there's a more human element in a song if my voice cracks. It's realistic.
How is it you're friendly with Prince Charles?
I was the first American to be appointed an ambassador for his charity The Prince's Trust. I didn't really realise what it was but I knew it was a great honour to be asked. Now I know his aim is to help kids in neighbourhoods who need it most. I can relate to that.
You've been performing for over 25 years. What keeps you going?
The key to success is to say to yourself: 'Don't do it for the applause and don't do it for the money.' You've got to go back to why you want to do it - and the only real reason I do it is for the music.