R&B legend Barry White, whose deep voice was a calling card during his thirty-year career, died of kidney failure on July 4th in Los Angeles; he was fifty-eight.
Born in Galveston, Texas, on September 12, 1944, White got his start singing, playing organ and conducting a choir in church. His professional career began in 1960 when he joined L.A. R&B ensemble the Upfronts, which was followed by a stint as an A&R man and producer for Mustang Records.
By 1973, White had launched a solo career. That year, he scored his first charting hit, “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby,” which climbed to Number Three. His love songs were a staple of Seventies radio, with “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” topping the pop charts in 1974. White hit the Top Forty ten times in the decade, in addition to landing numerous hit singles on the R&B charts and selling millions of albums.
Though the hits dried up in the early Eighties, by the Nineties, White enjoyed a rekindled popularity, starting with the pop-charting “The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)” (from Quincy Jones’ Back on the Block). White’s lush arrangements, pillow-talk lyrics and rumbling baritone pushed him towards icon status in the Nineties, with an appearance on The Simpsons and in 2000 a recurring role on Ally McBeal. His latest release, 1999’s Staying Power, won a pair of Grammy Awards.