Barry White Survived Gang Life And Prison, Became Love Song Legend

By | February 13, 2020

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Barry White. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Barry White told us "I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More, Baby," "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe," and "You're The First, The Last, My Everything." Nicknamed “the walrus of love,” White spoke the language of romance like few other performers and delivered his tender sentiments in a deep soulful voice. He claimed his seductive lyrics were paeans to his wife Glodean, and his lush arrangements made him the epitome of cuddly, soulful love in the '70s. But this king of the bedroom ballad walked a long road to rise to his position, and could have followed the same path as his brother who spent much of his life in prison. Instead, music saved him.

Early Music Exposure

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Jesse Belvin, on whose recording a young Barry White played piano. Source: (

Barry White was born into music. While he was born in Galveston, Texas, he moved to Los Angeles while he was young. His mother, Sadie, was a piano teacher and taught him how to harmonize when he was only four. She sang “Silent Night” and he sang the harmony. However, despite this early exposure to music, he never learned how to read or write music. Despite his inability to read and write music, he was playing the organ and singing with his church and he mastered other instruments as well. By the age of 11, he appeared in his first recording: he played the piano on Jesse Belvin’s hit “Goodnight My Love.”