Barry White, The Icon of ‘Lurve’
by Elizabeth Menon
A voice, once heard and never forgotten: the velvety smooth voice of Barry White belongs there! His celestial voice has the capacity to take his listener to an entirely different world filled with happiness and sheer bliss. Barry White chose ‘ Fourth of July’, the most important day in the history of America to bid fare well to his adoring fans and family- one expects no less from a man who is larger than life! Barry White died on a Friday morning (04.07.2003) at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. It was a great loss to music lovers all over the world and of course, to his loving family. That distinctive soul sound, that husky growl with the velvety chocolate edge has influenced many lives since the early 70s. He was nicknamed ‘The Walrus of Love’, though he would have liked to be called ‘The Dove of Love’. He gave the world and his fans, ‘LURVE’ and he referred to women as ‘Ladies’! Music lovers everywhere remembers the icon of 'Lurve' on the fourth of July, the day he bid his untimely farewell.
Barry White was born in Galveston in Texas, on 12 September 1944. He played piano at the age of 11 and made records under his own name, ‘Barry Lee’, as a member of the group ‘Up fronts’. He once said at an interview that Elvis Presley was his inspiration to follow a music career. Barry was behind bars for four months when he was growing up in South Park neighbourhood and he heard Elvis’s ‘Now or Never’ and that song changed his life forever. He formed ‘Love Unlimited’ in 1969, with Diane, Glodean and her sister Linda- he later married Glodean. The unmistakable distinctive ‘Love Unlimited Orchestra’ was founded by Barry White for which he conducted and composed and his first International hit was the ‘Love’s theme’, in1973. ‘Walkin’ in the Rain with the One I love’, I am Gonna love You just a little more’, ‘Never never Gonna give you up’, ‘You see the trouble with me’, Sho’ you Right’, ‘Just the way You are’ are few of the melodies that melted the hearts of millions all over the world.
Barry has been held 'Responsible’ for the 70’s population explosion in the US! When asked about this at an interview, Barry laughed and growled in that husky velvet voice, “Not me personally, but my music”! Marine experts claim that even sharks have succumbed to his music! He was a great success with the students at Oxford University, when he gave a lecture there in 2002 on the future of music. He regained his popularity in the 90s, with his powerful melody, ‘Practice what you preach’ and the album that accompanied. It’s a well-known fact that Barry’s music has changed the lives of many, from all walks of life at trouble times -- even married couples claim that Barry’s music has saved their lives!
His concerts broke all records and the fans were treated to the most spectacular soul sound. He ‘Sang to his audience’ at his concerts and the melodies like ‘ You are the First, The Last, My Everything’ and ‘Just the way You are’, were given standing ovation and the response from the adoring fans broke all sound barriers. I feel honoured to have witnessed the 'Barry White Magic' at the breathtaking concert in Sheffield, UK, which I would keep in a special corner in my heart and so will, all those who have been to one of his concerts! ‘The Lurve God’ is no more, but his husky growl, that velvet smooth soul sound, will live forever. He believed in the only subject on Planet Earth, 'Lurve’' and one hopes that ‘Lurve’ will save the world, as Barry believed!