Since Barry Manilow's rapid rise to super-stardom in the early 1970's, many writers and entertainment watchers have attempted to unravel the mystery of the man that his fans love, and his critics love to hate.
It took until nearly 30 years after Manilow's ascension to the pop-come-adult-contemporary throne for a lone, respected biographer to fill in the blanks left by Manilow's own 1987 autobiography, "Sweet Life: Adventures on the Way To Paradise."
Patricia Butler has pieced together a fuller, deeper story than any of those before her, with the help of many of Manilow's closest friends, relatives and former band members. While Butler captures the same portrait of a reluctant-but-overachieving star that others have painted, she takes this book substantially further, systematically peeling away at the layer of awe that has blinded many of her predecessors to garner deeper insights.
What results is a louder and more credible take on the topics that were previously only whispered and rumored.
We learn about the women in Manilow's life: his grandmother's quest to distance a young Barry from his father, his mother's repeated suicide attempts and bouts with alcoholism, Manilow's short-lived and possibly unconsummated marriage, and an awkward relationship with Karen Carpenter.
Butler offers stories and anecdotes from Manilow's friends and colleagues that paint an ego-driven perfectionist prone to temper tantrums. Through exhaustive interviews, she offers a variety of "that's-not-how-I-remember-it" clarifications that directly contradict the star's own account of certain events. ...
Yet this thoroughly enjoyable celebrity "outing" isn't an expose of Butler's design. Former band members, particularly long-time drummer Lee Gurst, handle the brunt of the dirty work as it relates to Manilow's sexuality.
Respectfully, though, Butler doesn't dwell too long on any of the "new" revelations, and in fact provides great balance in her account of Manilow's life and career. Appropriately, both the casual Manilow fan and the diehard fanatic will feel the pride of the icon's quick, enduring and unprecedented pop success. Against the backdrop of music history, Barry Manilow gets more respect in this book than one might rightfully expect.
Still, some of Manilow's predominantly female fan base will undoubtedly plug its ears in "La-la-la, I can't hear you" fashion, in attempt to drown out anything that might paint Barry Manilow as a mere mortal. Their loss. Because this book truly succeeds where others have not.
WATCH THIS SPACE FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND FEATURES COMING SOON! (No, really -- I promise!)