photo's : Manilow's only marriage was to high school sweetheart Susan Deixler. It was quickly annulled. Singer Jeanne Lucas says she had to drag Barry out of gay bars between sets
Barry Manilow's former singing partner fell in love with him, but she could never win his heart because he preferred hanging out with gay buddies, she claims.
Jeanne Lucas, a vivacious blonde who performed with Manilow in the '60s, recalls how she fell for the crooner before discovering the shocking truth.
"Woman went nuts for him and Barry could charm the pants off any lady,"
Jeanne confides in Patricia Butler's new book Barry Manilow: The Biography.
"I trought I was the chosen one because I was the one he chose to really be with, work with, live with and whatever. I was miserable because Barry wasn't picking up on my vibes. I really couldn't understand why wasn't reciprocating."
But a friend explained the reason for her in no uncertain terms - he would NEVER be attracted to her.
Jeanne, who was fresh out of the Midwest, now admits in the bio, "I was naive. Even when she spelled it out, I found it hard to believe."
In Butler's book, Jeanne reveals that Manilow liked to hang out in gay bars when they were on the road.
"Wherever we would perform, I used to drop him off at these places - they were just store fronts - and you didn't know what was behind there," she says.
"Onstage, we were supposed to be America's sweet - hearts. But between sets, he would run across the street to a gay bar and I would go in there and grab him out and say, 'Are you crazy?' "
In the tell-all tome, Jeanne recalls, "One day, he said to me, 'When I visit people in that world, they know how to live, and they're very sophisticated, and they understand the arts, and they've got money and they know how to dress. I love that world. I want to live with that.' "
She concludes: "Barry loved the trappings."
Biographer Butler adds that when Manilow, now 55, was asked about his personal life, he told people that it was too boring to discuss. He has also denied that he's gay, pointing out that he's been married.
However, Butler says that Manilow's marriage to a high school sweetheart was annulled after just 18 months.
She quotes a cousin of Manilow's ex-wife, Susan Deixler, who claims that "the marriage was annulled for not being consummated."
The book says Manilow was immensely attractive to woman. According to Butler, Jeanne quickly fell under his spell.
"They worked together, traveled together and on a couple of occasions lived together," the author explains.
"Jeanne was attractive and intelligent and it was natural for her to assume with all they shared that any spark she felt between them would be mutual. The fact than this didn't seem to be the case was causing Jeanne much pain and confusion."
When Jeanne finally married someone else - actor Howard Hornig - Butler notes that Manilow was upset and refused to sing at the wedding.
"But he agreed to write her a song," Butler says. "And he bought her a piano for a wedding present."
He may be universally known for his rather cheesy, middle of the road hits such as Copacabana, but Barry Manilow – fast approaching his 60th birthday – still likes to keep up with current musical trends. He says he despairs of modern songwriting and prefers to listen to electronica instead.
"At the moment, I’m enjoying groups like Underworld, Basement Jaxx, Groove Armada and Dirty Vegas," admits Brooklyn-born Barry, who counts pop entrepreneur Simon Cowell as one of his closest friends. "I’ve got a list in iTunes that is filled with interesting, daring, rhythmical geniuses. It’s probably because songwriting as a craft, is done."
Manilow’s nostalgia for an era when classic songs were cut in studios across America has given him his first US No 1 album since 1977. The Greatest Songs Of The Fifties, which is out here on Monday, went straight in at the top spot when it was released Stateside last month and sees Barry following in a trend started by Rod Stewart who has been cashing in with his American Songbook series.
To record the new album, Barry teamed up with his old record company label boss Clive Davies who has known him since he worked his way up from a post boy to a headlining act.
Boasting tracks such as Are You Lonesome Tonight, Unchained Melody and What A Difference A Day Makes, it is the 58th album release of his career.
“What we’ve resorted to these days is badly crafted pop songs sung by singers who are insistent on doing vocal acrobatics,” berates Barry, whose trademarks are his year-round tan and distinctive nose.
“They do all that because there are no lyrics to sing. Something has to happen. If you’re doing idiotic lyrics like, ‘Baby, oh baby. Come back to me. Deee deee ter deee’, there is nothing to sing.
“Being a composer and being raised on great material, that kind of music turns me off because there is no song there. So I go off to the electronica world where they are taking chances. It may not be in the lyrics, but musically they are striking me. I’m afraid, though, I’m a bit too grumpy to go out and see bands like Underworld at festivals.”
Born Barry Alan Pincus in a New York tenement in June 1943 – his father was a Russian Jew, his mother Irish – Manilow started out as a commercial jingle writer before teaming up with Bette Midler as her producer and pianist. He then dominated the soft-rock scene in the ’70s with a string of Top 10 hits and multi-platinum albums.
Despite more than 30 years in showbusiness, Barry has managed to keep his private life exactly that, but he is now poised to reveal all in a documentary. Since his early success, he has meticulously filled boxes with cassette recordings of conversations with colleagues, family and friends. Eventually, they took up so much space that he had to move them to a warehouse with enough room to store all his memories. Two decades ago Barry penned an autobiography and there have also been a couple of unauthorised books along the way. So maybe now is the time for Barry to put the record straight.
“I’m working on a lot of ideas of things to do with these tapes,” he admits. “Every part of my life has been recorded, but I don’t think a second book is the answer. I’ve been saving it all up and it’s all there in the warehouse.”
Buried away among his collection are tapes of conversations with Barry’s grandad who inspired him as a youngster and encouraged him to become an entertainer. Another, more unlikely, figure who looms large in Manilow’s life is the X Factor judge and pop supremo Simon Cowell. The pair became close pals in the ’90s when Cowell resurrected Barry’s career in the UK with remixes of Copacabana and Could It Be Magic.
“There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for Simon,” confirms Barry. “Anything he asks, I’ll do.”
Cowell also helped Barry became a household name to a new generation when he appeared as a guest judge on Simon’s American Idol show, and Manilow says working with potential new stars was inspirational.
“At first, when I was talking to these children, it was like I was talking Chinese,” says Barry. “But I think eventually I helped every single one of them. It was like I was taking a masterclass. By the end of a week they were hugging and kissing me when their arrangements came through.
“I gave them context and asked them to think about who they were singing to. Was it a girlfriend, a boyfriend, their grandfather or a friend? They had to be taught to interpret songs. Even Simon looked at me and said, ‘What have you done to these people?’”
Barry is midway through a recently-extended multi-million dollar contract which will see him perform hundreds of concerts at the Las Vegas Hilton through to next year. But ask him who he is singing to when he’s performing heart-wrenching ballads such as Are You Lonesome Tonight and he clams up and says, “You know I couldn’t possibly tell you the answer to that.
“There’s always been the Barry Manilow in capital letters and the Barry Manilow with regular letters. What I mean by that is the star in capital letters is a celebrity, the public figure and the corporation. Then there’s the human being and that’s what one must learn how to deal with.”
Oh well, maybe we’ll just have to wait for that documentary after all.
Born Barry Alan Pincus, the singing superstar and one-time composer of advertising jingles, who appears on Saturday's National Lottery show, says his life is a soap opera. But is it one in which music and passion are always the fashion?
What are you currently enjoying on television?
Nothing. I hardly watch TV, except fot the headline news. Ever since "Laverne and Shirley" went off the air, TV has become a vast wasteland.
What is your first memory of television or radio?
There was a television show in the States called the "Howdy Doody Show" when I was a kid. I had a crush on the girl who played the role of the princess.
Who do you find sexy on TV?
Kirstie Alley. She's got a new sitcom, "Veronica's Closet," that's on here in the States [and on Thursdays Sky 1 in the UK]. She's sexy and funny. Two great attributes.
What is your favourite radio programme?
There's a station in the States called National Public Roadio or NPR. Their format is more varied than any other radio station. You can hear anything from interesting interviews to the Spice Girls. It doesn't aim for one age group or style. Very eclectic. Much like your own radio stations, which I love.
Where will you be spending your millenium party?
Most likely on stage. I'm not sure where it will be. London would be nice.
If you could live in a soap opera, which would it be?
My life is a soap opera: if I wrote it all out no one would believe it! I don't think I need to be in another one.
Who would you vote for to be the first president of the earth?
What a terrible gig to offer anyone! Someone with a great sense of humor, no doubt. How about my young nephew, Jordan? He's so loving and innocent, maybe his decisions would be productive.
What would your first act as world leader be?
I would tear down all of the borders on earth. Hopefully that would end all separation between people.
What's the strangest thing you've ever done?
I tap-danced on my third television special. It was really strange. I was awful!
Where do you see yourself in ten years' time?
I imagine that I will still be making music.
What would you be doing if you weren't singing?
I would probably try writing stories.
What would you most like to change about yourself?
I'm too skinny. Most people hate me for having this problem!
What is the most ludicrous piece of gossip that you have either read or heard about yourself?
There was an article in one of the rags that said I had climbed up on my roof with a garden hose in order to put out a fire. Not too likely!
What do you think you are most likely to make headline news for in the future?
Singing "Copacabana" for the three millionth time.
Who would you most like to duet with?
Dusty Springfield. She is still the most soulful singer on the planet.
What is the most embarrassing fan mail/item you've ever received?
Some girl sent me a roll of toilet paper. On each sheet she had written, "You are my singer, you are my song." I was flattered, but toilet paper? I took it as a compliment.
Who would you like to play you in a film of your life?
That's easy. Barbra Streisand, of course. She played a man in Yentl, she comes from Brooklyn and we've got the same nose!