|Barry White: The Barry White Story
Before viewing the “Barry White Story” I had a vision of Barry White as the king of the slow jam that people made babies to – I had no idea that he was a very successful writer, producer, and A&R man before his singing career took off. These are just a few of the nuggets included in this very succinct but interesting biography of the late Barry White.
Clocking in at under an hour, “The Barry White Story” covers his life and entire career from birth to death. The film is narrated by White himself, and intercuts performance video with interviews from peers such as Smokey Robinson and Taboo from Black Eyed Peas. The comments from his children and ex-wife, Glodean James, are particularly powerful. James was one of the members of Love Unlimited, a group White discovered and produced. White’s career ascension is fascinating: having just been released from prison, he journeys to Hollywood to try to land a spot in the music industry. What happens from there is incredible and almost unbelievable. It wasn’t just luck, however; the man was immensely talented. He was an innovative arranger, one of the first to utilize orchestration within R&B, and a prolific writer and producer. He also was proficient on many instruments. It seems like there was nothing he couldn’t do.
The mixing and producing segments with Jack Perry, White’s musical director, are also incredibly insightful. Perry sits at a mixing board several times during the presentation and deconstructs songs into pieces, giving the viewer insight into the creative process. All of this adds to the legend of White’s genius.
The final chapter of the film is dedicated to White’s death, truly a tragic and sad ending for such a legend. After White’s stroke, his business manager – who had power of attorney – and his girlfriend essentially cut White’s family out of his life. The pain and anger that his family went through, including only being able to visit him when his girlfriend allowed, and having to endure the false claims that the girlfriend had given birth to Barry White’s child after his death, are details that make this a really interesting story arc.
In the end, I wanted more. This is a very well done, tight little package with about 18 minutes of additional footage included as bonus material. There is so much more to the man then those great pipes, I could have watched more about him. This was a really insightful and entertaining piece.
~ R. David Smola