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If You Were Here With Me Tonight

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Published on May 10, 2011

Barry Manilow (born June 17, 1943)[1] is an American singer--songwriter, musician, arranger, producer, conductor, and performer, best known for such recordings as "Could It Be Magic", "Mandy", "Can't Smile Without You", and "Copacabana (At the Copa)." In 1978, five of his albums were on the best-selling charts simultaneously, a feat equalled only by Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Mathis. He has recorded a string of Billboard hit singles and multi-platinum albums that have resulted in his being named Radio & Records number one Adult Contemporary artist and winning three straight American Music Awards for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist. Several well-known entertainers have given Manilow their "stamp of approval," including Sinatra, who was quoted in the 1970s regarding Manilow, "He's next." In 1988, Bob Dylan stopped Manilow at a party, hugged him and said, "Don't stop what you're doing, man. We're all inspired by you." As well as producing and arranging albums for other artists, such as Bette Midler and Dionne Warwick, Manilow has written songs for musicals, films, and commercials. Since February 2005, he had been the headliner at the Las Vegas Hilton, and had performed hundreds of shows before he called time on his 5-year association, performing his last show on December 30, 2009. From March 2010, he has headlined at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. He has sold more than 80 million records worldwide. Manilow was born Barry Alan Pincus to Harold Pincus and Edna Manilow. His mother's family was Jewish, while his father, who was often known by the surname "Keliher," was born to a Jewish father and Irish American mother.[4] Reared in the community of Williamsburg in northern Brooklyn, Barry attended nearby Eastern District High School, from which he graduated in 1961. In the same year, he enrolled in the Juilliard performing arts school, while working at CBS to pay his expenses. It is believed to be at this approximate time that he adopted his mother's maiden family name for his own professional name. At CBS, in 1964, Manilow met Bro Herrod, a director, who asked him to arrange some songs for a musical adaptation of the melodrama, The Drunkard. Instead, Manilow wrote an entire original score.[5] Herrod used his composition in the Off Broadway musical, which enjoyed an eight year run at New York's 13th Street Theatre.[6] Manilow then earned money by working as a pianist, producer, and arranger. During this time he began to work as a commercial jingle writer,[7] an activity that continued well into the 1970s. Many of those he wrote and/or composed he would also perform, including State Farm Insurance ("Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there..."), and Band-Aid ("I am stuck on Band-Aid, 'cause Band-Aids stick on me!"). His singing-only credits include Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pepsi, Dr Pepper, and the famed McDonald's "You Deserve a Break Today" campaign.[8] Manilow won 2 Clio Awards in 1976 for his work for Tab and Band-Aid.[9] These jingles were a mainstay of his concerts for years as his "V.S.M.," or "Very Strange Medley." By 1967, Manilow was the musical director for the WCBS-TV series Callback, which premiered on January 27, 1968. He next conducted and arranged for Ed Sullivan's production company, arranging a new theme for The Late Show, while still writing, producing, and singing his radio and television jingles. At the same time, he and Jeanne Lucas performed as a duo for a two-season run at New York's Upstairs at the Downstairs club. Manilow's well-known association with Bette Midler began at the Continental Baths in New York City. [11] He accompanied her and other artists on the piano from 1970 to 1971, and Midler chose him to assist with the production of her first two albums, The Divine Miss M (1972) and Bette Midler (1973), and act as her musical director on The Divine Miss M tour.[12] Manilow worked with Midler for four years, from 1971 to 1975. In 1974, Bell Records released Manilow's first album, Barry Manilow, which offered an eclectic mix of piano-driven pop and guitar-driven rock music, including a song that Manilow had composed for the 1972 war drama Parades. Among other songs on the album were "Cloudburst", and "Could It Be Magic." The latter's music was based on Chopin's "Prelude in C Minor, Opus 28, Number 20", and provided Donna Summer with one of her major hits. (It was also covered by Take That in the 1990s, as an up-beat disco version of the song. Take That have since performed Manilow's original version in their Beautiful World Tour.) When Manilow's record company, Bell Records, merged with other labels, new entity Arista Records formed. Under the auspices of its head Clive Davis many artists were dropped. Davis was reassured by the Manilow acquisition after seeing him perform as the opening act at a Dionne Warwick concert. The partnership began to gain traction in 1974, with the release of Manilow's second album.

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