Barry Manilow Reflects on Breaking an Elvis Presley Record (Exclusive)

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    Barry Manilow Reflects on Breaking an Elvis Presley Record (Exclusive)


    Barry Manilow is a man of many accolades — he’s sold more than 85 million albums, scored over 25 Top Ten hits, like “Copacabana 1985,” and he’s ranked the number one adult contemporary artist of all time. This year, he’s got another amazing accomplishment to celebrate: breaking Elvis Presley’s record for the most performances at the Westgate Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    Earlier this week, the 80-year-old was presented with a key to the Las Vegas strip as he played his 637th show at the Westgate. The special occasion beat Presley’s record for most concerts at the venue, set by his 636-date residency from 1969-1976.

    “It’s great. I mean listen, what’s [really] great is being in the same sentence as Elvis Presley,” Manilow told ET’s Denny Directo ahead of the big celebration on Sept. 23. “This is beyond just another singer. This was somebody who invented a style of music that wouldn’t have been there if he hadn’t done it, so this was a big [honor]. And it’s great that both of us were working on this stage.”

    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Although Manilow shared that he could feel the “energy of the king” when he first began performing at the venue, he quipped that it’s been long enough since 2005 — when he began his show at the Watergate — that the venue feels like home for him and his band. 

    The “Mandy” singer and his band of musicians have made their mark on the venue, putting on so many shows that they’ve even had chances to make changes to fit the singer’s mood. Still, Manilow said that every performance is like “the first time every time.” And the fans love to hear it!

    “That never gets old and I never take it for granted,” he said of his fans’ enthusiasm during the shows. “As a matter of fact, my stage manager and I stand in the wings, and every night, I say, ‘Is anybody out there?’ And I know it sounds silly, but I mean it because I never take it for granted.”

    Manilow decided to put his money where his mouth is when it comes to paying it forward in a show of gratitude. In honor of Presley’s legacy, all of Manilow’s shows at the Westgate from Sept. 21-23 saw proceeds donated to the following charities: Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, Manilow Music Project, Musicians on Call, Three Square, Victoria’s Voice and Youth Villages.

    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    The singer has a lot to be grateful for, including another year of wedded bliss to his husband, Garry Kief

    Manilow and Kief have been together since they met in 1978, and tied the knot at their home in Palm Springs, California, in April 2014. The singer largely kept his relationship with Kief under wraps and didn’t publicly come out as gay until 2017. The news of their marriage didn’t even break until a year after they got hitched.

    “When I met Garry my career was just exploding and that’s the most dangerous time for a young person who’s starting out. If you don’t have somebody to come home to, it’s rough to be by yourself in that hotel room,” Manilow told ET about his relationship with the CEO of Stiletto Entertainment.

    “Yes, everything is so exciting outside the hotel room and then you close the door and you’re by yourself in that hotel room, that’s when you can get yourself in trouble. That’s when you could really do some bad things. I was lucky enough to meet Garry Kief right around then and that’s what we need, when you’re going through something like that, you need somebody to be able to come home to and complain and cry and laugh and have somebody to celebrate with,” he added.

    “Without Gary, I don’t know whether it would have been as much fun or as beautiful as it has been for me.”

    The couple will have a lot to celebrate in the future, especially since Manilow’s upcoming Broadway production, Harmony, begins preview performances Wednesday, Oct. 18. The production’s arrival on Broadway has been 30 years in the making. 

    Harmony is centered around the real-life story of the Comedian Harmonists, a group of German singers who gained fame in the 1920s and ’30s. The group ran into trouble as Germany’s Nazi regime took power in the ’30s because it featured some performers who were Jewish, according to The New York Times.

    Manilow initially premiered the musical in California back in 1997, and intended to open on Broadway in 2004, but the run was canceled when its funding fell apart.

    The show has received a number of Off-Broadway awards nominations, including a 2002 Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Musical and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical.

    “The whole point of the show is to make sure that people remember this group called the Comedian Harmonists, because a few of them were Jews and a few of them were not, and the Nazis destroyed everything that they did,” Manilow explained to ET. “They were very big in the ’20s and ’30s — lot of records and 13 movies, and they just annihilated everything that they did. We didn’t know them until we started to listen to their stuff. They were comedians and harmonists, and they were really way ahead of their time. So, what I’d like is for people to finally know who these men are and let them not be forgotten.”

    Harmony begins preview performances Oct. 18, with opening night at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre slated for Monday, Nov. 13.

    Fans can check out the recently-announced string of new dates for Manilow’s Westage show in 2024, online.

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