Barry Manilow on Bette: Transcript from Larry King May 2002

KING: Now, the first time I saw you…


KING: You were playing piano for about Bette Midler.

MANILOW: Where, New York or L.A.?

KING: It was New York. You played a song, she’d sing, you’d stand up. OK, band,

MANILOW: I was conducting.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) conductor and arranger, Barry Manilow. When did you come
front on the stage? MANILOW: On the third or fourth year that I was with Bette,
I got an offer to make my own album. Don’t ask me how. I wasn’t pushing myself
as a singer.

KING: You didn’t sing with Bette.

MANILOW: Not at that time. But I was pushing my song writing. I wanted other
people to record my songs. And I got an offer to record my own songs as a
singer. And I did, I accepted it, because nobody else seemed to be recording my

And I made this first album. They said, we’ll give you the first album deal if
you go out and promote it, like on a tour, like put a band together and
actually go out on the road. And I was conducting for Bette, so I asked Bette
if I could open her second half, and then I could conduct for her, for the
whole show, but I would also be able to promote this album as singing three
songs before her second act.

She graciously said that I could.

KING: It was nice, by the way. Didn’t have to do that.

MANILOW: It was beautiful of her to do that. It was the beginning. I thought
these people would go out for orange juice when I came on. They should have.
They really should have. Bette was so unbelievable.

To have her piano player come out and say now I’ll do three songs, they
shouldn’t have stayed. But they did, and they were so beautiful to me, always.
They were so gracious. They never heckled, you know, never yelled we want
Bette, they were great.

KING: Are you a writer who sings?

MANILOW: I’m a writer who sings. That’s great. Although I have made quite a
career as a performer, and I think I have gotten better at it, but I was never
really comfortable doing it. I’m still comfortable behind the piano as a

KING: When you do an album, since you are also an arranger, do you work well
with arrangers, or do you arrange your own?

MANILOW: I lay out all the songs that I sing. Then I ask the
orchestrator/arrangers to write it out for the musicians. I used to do that for
Bette, but I stopped doing it for myself.

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