Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow may not be the coolest musician ever, and his coming out as gay was about the least surprising admission since Nathan Lane came out, but when it comes to influence and sustained success as a musician, one cannot argue that Barry Manilow deserves to be inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  Lest anyone say that Barry Manilow was not a rock musician–he was an immensely popular artist during the rock & roll era and there are plenty of acts that are not rock acts that are inducted these days [1].  When it comes to influence as a producer and songwriter as well as immense popularity in terms of chart success and album sales as a musician with a mostly female fan base, Barry Manilow clearly has met any reasonable standard for popularity and influence that one could have.  How many people have sold seventy-five million albums over the course of a career?  How many have nearly fifty top 40 hits?  I don’t care what genre you perform in, if you have numbers like this you deserve to be in Cleveland, regardless of how uncool you may be.

Barry Manilow’s Influence

We may take Barry Manilow’s influence in several different ways.  As a philanthropist he has been noted to donate money as well as musical instruments to those who have suffered disaster, and he is certainly noted as a humanitarian.  His music has been used to deter juvenile delinquents in Australia [2].  In addition, he is noted as a performer and a songwriter and producer for such acts as Bette Midler.  He has written notable jingles, including the State Farm jingle, as part of an early advertising career.  He has written successful scores for Broadway as well as numerous pop and rock hits.  In terms of his success, his first ten studio albums went platinum or higher in the United States, and several more later ones did as well.  Eight of his compilation albums have gone at least gold, as well as three of his live albums.  Three of his hits went to #1 on the mainstream charts:  Mandy, I Write The Songs, and Looks Like We Made It, and numerous other songs of his hit the top 10 (including the classic “Copacabana”) as well as the top 40 from 1974 to 1983 [3].  Of course he was dominant on the Adult Contemporary charts for a long time even after his songs ceased being mainstream hits.  Again, regardless of how cool Barry Manilow is thought of as an artist, he has the lasting success and reputation to make him worthy of induction in Cleveland, and without a question his songs would be welcome to listen to for those who like classy songs sung well.

Why Barry Manilow Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

He has sold 75 million albums, made a boatload of enduring hits that are still played on the radio, has had successful tours and Vegas residencies lasting long after his mainstream career declined, and has been influential on Broadway and in jingles as well as in songwriting and producing for artists like The Monkees and Bette Midler.  He is known as an excellent writer as well as an interpreter of the songs of others.  If you want awards, you can look at his RIAA award for album sales or his stack of Grammys.  There might be a lot of critics who would make fun of him, but one cannot deny his success and that it has lasted over the long haul.  People still like hearing him sing and still buy his albums and his songs remain perennial easy listening and adult contemporary classics.  Any of these achievements alone would be enough for induction, and to have all of them makes it obvious.  His songs are certainly inescapable if you have a taste for showy but tuneful music.

Why Barry Manilow Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

It’s easy to see that a group of rock critics might not think he’s cool enough to make it.  He was never a particularly macho musician and was long rumored to be gay before confirming it after it went public.  Is being uncool and gay enough to make one impossible to induct in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, regardless of hit singles and popular albums and influence on other acts?  Should it be?

Verdict:  Put him in already, while he’s still alive.

[1] See, for example:





[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Manilow#cite_note-62

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Manilow_discography

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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