radio review

For thousands of people, today is very special. On 17 June 1946, Barry Alan Pinkus was born in New York. The artist normally known as Barry Manilow has hit 50. In Happy Birthday Barry from Gary (Radio 2, Saturday), Gary Wilmot acknowledged this fact. Gary had good reason to be grateful to Barry, having spent months playing the lead in the sultan of schmaltz's musical, Copacabana. Here he repaid his debt. "We've invited along some party guests," he chirped. "Some old friends of Barry, some fans, and we'll be hearing from Barry himself, telling us of his rise from Brooklyn to Broadway to Hollywood to the world. So, with the candles gently flickering on the cake, and the root beer on ice, let's join the celebrations!"

There was an uneasy moment when Gary first referred to Barry's Brooklyn roots. "He is, without doubt," he said, grappling for the appropriate superlative, "one of the biggest stars to emerge from that part of New York." This didn't sound that impressive. But Gary had come to praise Barry, not bury him. "Could it be magic?" he asked. "It most definitely is," he answered, "when it comes from the pen of Barry Manilow."

All the same, this was a curiously apologetic celebration. It didn't actually let anyone have a go at Barry, but the guests sounded like defence witnesses. "It's sort of embarrassing to reveal you're a fan," remarked one - and that was Manilow himself. A Times reviewer was wheeled out to tell how surprised he'd been to enjoy a Manilow concert; and Gloria Hunniford (why?) explained that, though Barry once took criticism badly, he'd now developed a sense of humour - although how he'd survived without one, working with Bette Midler for four years, beats me.

Bette met Barry when he accompanied her weekly gigs at a men's Turkish baths. She said she'd thought Manilow's melodies were great but "there was something about the lyrics I couldn't quite get a handle on" - fair comment on the man who rhymed "Her name was Lola" with "she was a showgirl".

Bette was a big influence. But it's to Barry's stepfather that the world owes most thanks. Thank you for leading your 13-year-old stepson to a piano but, more importantly, thank you for consigning his accordion to the dustbin of history.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?