2001-2008
Home
Main
- About TFT
Friday Thing Archive
- Politics
- Media
- Culture and Society
- War On Terror
- People
- Places
- World
- Popped Clogs
- Music
- Books
- Film
- Etc
Help And Info
- Contact Details
- Advertising
- Jobs
- Privacy Policy
- XML Feed

Home > Popped Clogs

Popped Clog: Barry White

Barry White - father, singer, sex symbol, chronic overeater - has died. He was 58.

Alan Connor remembers the Walrus of Love.

5 June 2003

When I was under contract to Planet 24, I was once told that I had proved my TV onions and was to be allowed to do a proper couch interview, live on The Word. The guest was to be Barry White. This was in the days before kitsch was quite so strong, and certainly pre-Ally McBeal, and so I met the prospect with no little enthusiasm. Barry's people had only one perquisite: "please don't call Barry 'The Walrus of Love' - he hates it."

Alas, the anarchic iconoclasts at Planet 24 were too groovy to listen, and so one Friday evening, Barry was in his hotel room, channel-hopping and lighted on a trailer: 'on The Word tonight: The Walrus of Love himself'. He pulled out. Good
Sleepy, Grumpy, Doc...

Barry leaves behind eight children. They are...

- Deniece

- La nece

- Nina

- Shehera

- Barriana

- Barry Jr.

- Darrell

- McKevin (Would you like fries with that?)

It is to Barry's eternal credit that he managed to select three of the 10 worst names of all time.

for Barry. But bad for me, because the only person who was prepared to bang on at such short notice was Keith Allen. I wasn't a Loaded reader, and so primarily knew him as a minor figure from The Comic Strip Presents... . I had no idea why the fashionistas in the production team were so over-excited. But one look at Allen and I could tell why he was over-excited.

It was a shame. The editorial dudes had said they would allow me to arm-wrestle Barry on TV. There was no way I was touching Keith Allen. And now I'll never touch either of them.

Rest in peace. Here is your life.

Barry White is, for many, the sound of Philadelphia. And yet he was born, with a very squeaky voice in Galveston, Texas - the subject matter of the greatest ballad by Glen Campbell, greater even than his Barry White covering. Barry should have sung 'Galveston'. It would have been amazing country-soul.

It was in church that Barry found his love of music, through choir and organ. But it was in an LA prison, aged 15, for stealing tyres, that Barry heard 'It's now or never' and realised it could be his living - and his salvation. Known more now for his lugubrious baritone, Barry was also among the shit-hottest producers of the 1960s and 1970s. He also did a sideline in management, putting together three hot girls and calling them Love Unlimited. He even married one of them, the old dog.

And he was no mean instrumentalist. That's Barry that you hear on Bob & Earl's filthy 'Harlem Shuffle' (as sampled by the House of Pain), playing piano and, disputedly, producing this piece of aural filth. He went onto play drums for Earl in live shows too. He could play anything.

He also produced the Bobby Fuller Four, best known for 'I fought the law (and the law won)'. With Barry's demise, we miss another opportunity to find out why it is that the official cause of Bobby Fuller's premature death was drinking petrol - even though it's impossible to die this way. Re-open the Bobby Fuller
inquest!


http://www.del-fi.com/feature/bfdeath.html

One can only hope Barry re-acquires recognition for his lush inventive production, often in conjunction with Gene Page, an arranger who ought to be about a gazillion times better-known, for 'You've lost that lovin' feelin'', if nothing else).

At the moment, though, we remember him as a Voice. A voice which was very, very deep and which grunted and heavy-breathed its way across strings and disco beats. (Side-question: did Barry invent disco in 1973? Actually, the guy's dead, so let's not blame him for that.) A voice which women enjoyed very, very much, but with a body which their husbands considered no threat. But they should have. A friend of mine, when calculating how much she would have to be paid to sleep with various celebrities, said she would do Barry 'for a bun'.

Of course, Barry became taboo for a while, parodied by New Order over some sheep noises on 'Fine time' and, save for a Simpsons guest appearance where he proved himself a decent-enough actor, not really mentioned much. In the media, that is. People still listened to his records. I've not tried it myself, but I'm told his really is a *genuinely* good make-out soundtrack. Don't try it tonight, though. It'll just seem creepy. Go for Alexander O'Neal or Isaac Hayes. Or Toploader.

It really took Ally McBeal to propel the re-releases that are necessary for a critical reappraisal. It was only after McBeal that Barry had a whiff of a Grammy, say - and the industry's reawakened interest didn't go a lot further than re-releases to people who don't much like music. When Universal bought out all of Polygram's labels, Barry all but got lost in the squeeze.

Still, he was a happy man. He'd got his autiobiography-cum-love-guide written (having been a relationship counsellor at 14, this was presumably less arduous than it sounds). During the failure of his health, he lived in San Diego, on the water, with his special lady. And whatever he made on his hundred-million dollar sales. By his early 50s, he was already a great-grandfather three times over. How so? Eight kids, down the ages, with different ladies. Barry, you old dog.

You'll be sorely missed.



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

Subscribe to The Friday Thing for free


 ABOUT THE FRIDAY THING
Bad words ahead The Friday Thing is a weekly email comment sheet. Casting a cynical eye over the week's events, it is rarely fair and never balanced.

A selection of articles from each week's issue appear online, but to enjoy the full Thing, delivered by email every Friday - as well as access to almost five years of back issues - you'll need to subscribe. It's absolutely free.

READERS WRITE
"Razor-sharp comment and gossip." - The Sunday Times

"Hilariously cynical..To describe it as 'irreverent' is to do the newsletter an injustice." - The Observer

"Sharp, intelligent, opinionated, uncompromising and very, very funny. Just like 'Private Eye' used to be." - Alec McKelland

"Wicked" - Channel 4

"Ace" - Time Out

"'We rise once again in advocacy of The Friday Thing. We realize that some of you may be unwilling to spend [your money] on plain-text comment, but you're only depriving yourself." - The Minor Fall, The Major Lift

"Subscribing to this at the beginning of the year was undoubtedly one of the better decisions I've made. Superlative, and utterly marvellous. I look forward to Fridays now, because I can't wait for the next issue. Fucking fucking brilliant." - Meish.org

"Featuring writers from The Observer, Smack The Pony and The 11 O'Clock Show... will continue to attract new subscribers sight unseen" - NeedToKnow

"The Friday Thing is so good it's stopping me from doing a bunk of a Friday afternoon." - Annie Blinkhorn (The Erotic Review)

"So now" - The Evening Standard

"Damn it, you rule. May you never, ever back down." - Paul Mayze

"Ace" - PopJustice

"Snarky" - Online Journalism Review

"Can you please stop making me laugh out loud... I'm supposed to be working, you know!" - Tamsin Tyrwhitt

"Your coverage of stuff as it spills is right on the money." - Mike Woods

"Popbitch with A-Levels." - Tim Footman

"In an inbox full of trite work-related nonsense, TFT shines from under its subject heading like the sun out of Angus Deayton's arse." - Nikki Hunt

"A first rate email. It's become an integral part of my week, and my life would be empty and meaningless without it (well, *more* empty and meaningless anyway)." - Mark Pugh

"Genius, absolute bit of class. And you can quote me on that." - Lee Neville

"If you're hipper than hell, this is what you read." - MarketingSherpa

"The most entertaining email I've had all week. Great tone." - Matthew Prior

"A massive and engrossing wit injection." - idiotica.co.uk

"I wouldn't know satire if it bit me on the arse. But I did like the Naomi Campbell joke." - Matt Kelly (The Mirror)

"Has had an understandably high profile among people who know about these things." - Guy Clapperton (Guardian Online)

"Satirical sideswipes at the burning issues of the day." - Radio 5 Live

"Puerile and worthless... Truly fabulous... Do read the whole thing." - Stephen Pollard

The Friday Thing 2001-2008 - All Rights Reserved