Remembrance Day for Barry White, the Icon of 'Lurve', the legend with a 'Signature voice'!
by Elizabeth Menon

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Remembrance Day for Barry White, the Icon of 'Lurve', the legend with a 'Signature voice'!

Barry White, the soul legend, instantly recognisable by his seductive, husky rumbling Bass is remembered today, Friday the fourth of July, on his eleventh Remembrance Day! 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 at the age of 58 years.

He suffered a severe stroke in May 2003 while awaiting a kidney transplant that forced him to retire from public life and his fans the world over prayed for him, but he died at the Cedars Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles, at around 9:30 on the morning of Friday, 4 July 2003, and we still miss him and his great music! Barry White was born Barry Eugene Carter on 12 September 1944 in Galveston Texas in the US and bid farewell eleven years ago on this day, the anniversary day of the United State's Declaration of Independence on Fourth of July from Britain (1776)! And it was a very special day for Barry, as that was the anniversary of the day he married Glodean James, on 4 July 1974 – Glodean was the lead singer of the group Barry had produced in 1972, 'Love Unlimited'!

The name Barry White, the multifaceted legend, brings many emotions, love and passion topping the list, as his husky voice was enough to turn even those who hated music, and of course, the 'Giant of a Presence' at his concerts was inimitable! He was equally adored for his role as the Lyricist, Musician, Record Producer, and he played the Piano, Harpsichord, Keyboards, Drums and Recorder. It has been reported that the speakers at the BBC Studio were vibrating while Barry was singing during an interview! He grew up in Galveston, listening to his mother's collection of classical music, symphonies, sonatas, melodies. His mother gave him piano lessons and he took up piano from the age five after hearing his mother play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”, and he started singing in a Baptist choir from an early age. But during his teenage years, he was involved in gang activity for which he was in jail for four months – Elvis Presley’s “It's Now or Never”, that he listened to on the radio while in jail, according to Barry White, changed the course of his life, and I am sure his fans worldwide would be grateful to the great Elvis Presley and his beautiful song, which in deed is inspiring -- it was 60 years ago, on 5 July 1954, that Elvis Presley recorded his first song, "That's Alright Mamma", in the Sun Studio in Memphis, and 'Rock Music' was born, rather the 'God of Rock Music' was born! Barry's squeaky voice changed overnight to the rumbling bass that shocked him and his mother, but his mother smiled at him and told him with a smile, “My son is a Man now” – and that is the voice we too love still!

Barry White formed the girl-group 'Love Unlimited' in 1972 and its first album, 'From A Girl's Point of View We Give to You...Love Unlimited', selling around a million albums, was the start of many long titled albums and singles! The classic soul ballad, “Walking in The Rain With the One I Love”, was on the Hot 100 Pop chart and the R&B chart – it is a real treat to listen to Barry's voice answering the phone call of the female lead in the song and one never had enough of listening to that – and Barry married the lead singer, Glodean, the one with the golden voice in 1974! He formed a 40 piece orchestral group, the unmistakable distinctive 'The Love Unlimited Orchestra', for which he conducted and composed. 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, including the albums, “Rhapsody in White, Satin Soul, Forever in Love, Midnight Groove, My Sweet Summer Suite,etc”. He is credited with bringing in the disco sound in the 70s, seamlessly combining R&B music and Classical music, but very popular with the younger generation too, as his hits are played constantly at the discos!

He wrote, composed, conducted and produced most of his singles and albums. Many of his singles followed, climbing the charts, “I've Got So Much to Give, I'm Gonna Love you Just a Little More Baby, Never Never Gonna Give Ya Up, Can't Get Enough of Your Love Babe, You're the First,the Last, My Everything, What Am I Gonna Do With You, Let the Music play, It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me, Your Sweetness is My Weakness, Sho' You Right, Super Lover, etc! It was in 1978 that he reached the Top 20 of UK's Singles chart with a cover version of Billy Joel's “ Just The Way You Are”, a song that makes every other song appear less, more so when you watch him sing, and that was only a start!

He continued to make songs and made a big come back in the 90s with “The Secret Garden” and many albums followed, “Put Me in Your Mix, The Icon Is Love, etc” – “Practice What You Preach” topped R&B's singles chart and was nominated for a Grammy and reached UK's charts that was accompanied by big Concerts at various venues in the UK! And I feel lucky to have had the pleasure of shaking hands with the great man at his Concert in Sheffield Arena! His duet with Tina Turner, “In Your Wildest Dreams” in 1996 and a duet with Chris Rock followed. “Staying Power” was his last album and the single of the same name “Staying Power”reached the charts and won him two Grammy Awards for Best Male Vocal Best Traditional R&B Vocal performances in 1999! His Autobiography, called 'Love Unlimited' was released in the same year. I remember the time when Barry White was invited to join the ranks of such greats as W. B. Yeats, David Lloyd George, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in being invited to speak at the prestigious Oxford Union Debating Society, in 2000. And he talked about the subject that he loved most, “Love or 'Lurve' as he says it” and the students thought he was brilliant! Luciano Pavarotti, the great Italian operatic tenor, invited Barry to sing with him for his annual charity concert “Pavarotti and Friends,”, a great honour in deed! He was posthumously inducted into the 'Dance Music Hall of Fame' at a ceremony held in New York, and he was awarded the 'Hollywood Walk of Fame' at Hollywood Blvd. in the category of recording on September 12, 2013, which would have been Barry White's 69th birthday!

He was very humble in spite of all his vast credentials, perhaps an eye opener for all those who suffer from an illusion of grandeur at times, ridiculing all else! Barry White and his music will always be remembered – his music was as smooth as silk -- he was bigger than life and his beautiful words and the sensual music would inspire people for eternity! 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! ‘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!
 Barry, we love you!

© E Menon



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