remember the day I decided to come to Hollywood. It was very unexpected. As a young man, I did not get along well with teachers. They never had all the answers, and still they tried to bully us into thinking they did. I went to school in southeast Los Angeles, and on my eighteenth birthday, as I was getting ready to go to school -- my clothes had all been laid out the night before -- something inside me said, "You're not going to school anymore. You're going to Hollywood."
I was combing my hair in the mirror, and my mother saw me, and I said, "I'm not going to school."
She said, "Are you crazy? This is your last semester. You're so close to graduation."
I said, "I'm going to Hollywood." And that's what I did. I hitchhiked to Hollywood. Landed where Rossmore turns into Vine. There is a statue there, and I stood there and looked at that statue for ten minutes before I finally turned around and started walking up Vine. I got up to Hollywood Boulevard, and I saw the Capitol Records building, which always represented Hollywood to me, and I stood there staring at the building for three hours. I was looking at the cars, at the people, everything. What can I say, it inspired me. I went home that night, and four days later some guy asks me to sing bass with a group called the Up Fronts.
I was concerned with rehearsing new dance steps, and unfortunately, the others in the group were more concerned with drinking wine. After that, I swore I'd never be in another group.
From 1960 to 1971, I struggled. I was the kid they saw coming, the kid with holes in the soles of his shoes. You could hear me coming two blocks away. That's how badly my shoes flopped.
Hal Davis at Motown used to give me clothes to wear. One of Stanley Goldstar's musicians once brought in a coat for me to wear that he said he wore in the war. I wore that coat, even conducted in it, and Stan said to me, "If you ever explode, Barry White, you're gonna scare people." He had tears in his eyes, he felt so sorry for me. Even my wife felt sorry for me.
In 1970, things started changing. I met three girls from San Pedro who didn't know a thing about the business, and I named them Love Unlimited. Nineteen seventy-one rolls around, and Larry Nunes gives me some money to begin rehearsing with the girls. We make a master, we bring it to Russ Regan and he freaks. We put out an album, Walking in the Rain, and it's a smash. We go on the road and misery sets in.
I didn't mind the small clubs, and the lousy conditions, but I resented being in a club where pimps hung out. I thought the music I was creating would touch a higher intellect.
Well, the record was a hit anyway, and when we came off the road, I made a call to Sammy Davis Jr.'s, office because he had expressed an interest in Love Unlimited opening for him in Las Vegas. A few days before my meeting with Sammy, I went into my office on Sunset, and I started fooling around with the intro to one of the songs. Then another song, and another song, and soon I canceled the meeting with Sammy. I was so excited when I went into the studio. I knew I needed to find a singer to sing these new songs. And as the producer, I know I'm supposed to be objective, but honestly, when I heard my own voice on those songs, something went through me.
What happened as a result of that was incredible. I suppose everyone has to pick their own subjects to talk about in music. Mine just happened to be about love. When a man is making love and about to climax, the last thing he thinks about is war, the last thing he thinks about is how he can blow up a nation. If there's one thing in this world we can all tune into, it's making love. Everybody does it. Fleas fuck. Flies, snakes, everybody is into lovemaking. It's the most powerful element that men and women possess, and for some reason, most of us don't know how to use that power.
But people did use my music to make love. Women used the music to get their man to relate to them better. "Talk to me, baby. Tell me what's on your mind."
Men used the music to get their women in the mood to make love. Either way, Barry White was the one artist who was actually in your bedroom with you at that sacred, sensuous moment of your life.
I've had guys walk up to me on the street and say, "Barry, I feel like you've been watching me get off." A lot of babies have been named Barry. If there was a Barry boom in '74, I was the one responsible for it.
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