Barry White

Before the advent of rappers, soul singer Barry White was singing hit

songs about sex with excitement and candor. The portly soul man had

huge pop and soul hits in the '70s with such titles as "I'm Gonna

Love You Just a Little More Baby" and "I've Got So Much to Give."

Barry White was born 55 years ago today in Galveston, Texas.

The husky-voiced singer made his debut at 8 years old in a church

choir. He soon became the church's organist and part-time choir

director.

When he was 16, White sang and played piano for the Los Angeles soul

band the Upfronts. In 1963, with his musical skills still developing,

White co-arranged Bob & Earl's hit "The Harlem Shuffle," covered in

the '80s by the Rolling Stones.

In 1966 White became an A&R man for Mustang Records. He discovered the

female singing trio Love Unlimited (including his future wife Glodean

James) and produced their million-selling 1972 single "Walking in the

Rain With the One I Love." The following year, White made his national

recording debut with "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby," a

sexy song that went all the way to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100

and topped the R&B chart.

In 1973 White scored on both charts with "Never, Never Gonna Give Ya

Up" (RealAudio excerpt)

and "I've Got So Much to Give." In addition, White wrote two big hits,

the #1 "Love's Theme" and "Under the Influence," for the Love

Unlimited Orchestra.

White topped the pop chart in 1974 with "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe"

from his #1 LP Can't Get Enough. He also scored a #2 pop and #1

R&B hit with "You're the First, the Last, My Everything."

His guttural singing style and provocative lyrics perhaps went their

farthest on 1977's #4 smash "It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me,"

from the platinum-selling Barry White Sings for Someone You Love.

He had R&B hits during the next year with "Playing Your Game, Baby"

and "Your Sweetness is My Weakness."

White's career slowed in the early '80s. He had minor hits with Glodean

James, including 1981's "I Want You." Six years later, White rebounded

with the top-20 R&B hit "Sho' You Right." In 1990 White enjoyed a #1

R&B hit and minor pop hit with "The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)."

The track featured Al B. Sure!, James Ingram and El DeBarge and was

included on Quincy Jones' Grammy Award-winning Back on the Block.

In 1991 he had a #2 soul hit with "Put Me in Your Mix" (the LP of the same

name featured a duet with Isaac Hayes) and was featured on Big Daddy

Kane's hit, "All of Me."

White's true comeback, however, was 1994's The Icon is Love

(featuring production by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis), which made the

top 20 of the Billboard 200 albums chart. It spawned the #1 R&B

and top-20 pop hit "Practice What You Preach."

This year White issued Staying Power, but he was forced to

cancel some supporting dates due to exhaustion.

Other birthdays: George Jones, 68; Donald "Gus" Backus (Del-Vikings),

62; Anthony Bellamy (Redbone), 59; Maria Muldaur, 56; Colin Young

(Foundations), 55; Tony Stevens (Foghat), 50; Gerry Beckley (America),

47; Neil Peart (Rush), 47; Barry Andrews (King Crimson, XTC), 43;

Brian Robertson (Thin Lizzy, Motörhead), 43; John "Norwood" Fisher

(Fishbone), 34; and Larry LaLonde (Primus), 31.