If I said Mr. Romance, you could probably think of several artists. Nat King Cole, Jerry Butler, Ben E. King, even Marvin Gaye. A lot of single Black males use to say that once turned off the lights, light some candles and put Marvin on the turntable, you could not go wrong. The music would do the rest.
Well, I am not referring to Marvin. I am referring to a man who did not want to become a recording star. Mr. Barry White made a career from singing romantic songs.
As I sit here I can not think of perhaps two songs that were not romantic, “Let The Music Play,” and “Oh What A Night For Dancing.”
It has been rumoured that Barry’s first recording was playing piano on Jesse Belvin’s big hit “Goodnight My Love.” Barry has stated that although both he and Belvin lived in the same neighbourhood, the age difference meant that they would not have travelled in the same circles.
Barry focused his attention on the A&R (Artist and Repertoire) side of the business. One of his first groups was called The Versatiles. They would later change their name to The 5th Dimensions.
While working as an A&R man, Barry had a vision of promoting an all-female group. That is how “Love Unlimited,” was created. Not only did he create the group, but he also wrote and produced their first major hit “Walking In The Rain (With The One I Love).”
Remember up to this point, Barry had only recorded one song and that was at the age of 16. After promoting Love Unlimited, Barry had a falling out with the record label and decided to part ways with Uni Records a minor label for RCA Records. The girls still had an active contract so they had to stay.
Barry during that period wrote and recorded a demo of three songs, but he was without anyone to sing and record the songs. It was here that a good friend convinced him to record the songs himself. The rest is history.
Let’s listen to Barry White singing “Never Gonna Give You Up.”