Barry Manilow: State Farm Jingle Was 'My Greatest Hit'

Singer also talks about how his partner 'saved my life'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2023 10:05 AM CST
Barry Manilow: My Partner 'Saved My Life'
Barry Manilow arrives at the 76th annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11, 2023, at the United Palace theater in New York.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

When Barry Manilow publicly came out as gay in 2017, he described the reaction from the public as "beautiful." But there would've been a very different reaction had he come out much earlier. "Back in the '70s it would have killed a career," according to the singer, who sat down with CNN's Chris Wallace for a "career-spanning interview," per the BBC. "The public was not ready for anybody to come out" and "I just didn't want to talk about my personal life anyway," Manilow said during an episode of Who's Talking to Chris Wallace aired exclusively on Max, per the Guardian. Around that time, Manilow met and began a relationship with his manager, Garry Kief, whom he would later marry. Kief "actually kind of saved my life," the singer said, per Mediaite.

"As my career exploded, it was just crazy," the 80-year-old told Wallace. "Going back to an empty hotel room, you can get into a lot of trouble if you, you know, you're alone night after night after night." "It was pretty lonely until I met Garry," he continued. "And then it was fun." With Kief, "I didn't have to go back to those empty hotel rooms. I had somebody to cry with or to celebrate with," he said, per the BBC. Manilow also spoke of his annulled marriage to high school sweetheart Susan Deixler. The couple stayed together for a year following their 1964 wedding and "we had a very nice marriage ... but I was away every night making music as a young musician would be," he said. "I couldn't be the proper husband." "I really did love her," he added. "But the gay thing ... was pretty, pretty strong."

Manilow also revealed that he came up with the concept for his 1985 hit "Copacabana" while recovering from what he initially described as his "first nervous breakdown" at Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana hotel in 1970. It wasn't a true nervous breakdown, but his mental health was suffering as he was forced to perform in the public eye, he said. He noted he'd spent his early career writing music for commercial jingles, including some familiar tunes you may not associate with the superstar. For instance: "I am stuck on Band-Aid brand, 'cause Band-Aid's stuck on me" and "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there." Manilow joked that the State Farm jingle is "my greatest hit," though it made him only $500, per Mediaite. "As a composer, they buy you out and that's it," he said. (More Barry Manilow stories.)

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