Barry White, born Barry Eugene Carter (September 12, 1944 - July 4, 2003), was an American composer and singer-songwriter.
A two-time Grammy Award-winner known for his distinctive bass voice and romantic image, White's greatest success came in the 1970s as a solo singer and with the Love Unlimited Orchestra, crafting many enduring soul, funk, and disco songs such as his two biggest hits, "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" and "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe."
Worldwide, White had many gold and platinum albums and singles, with combined sales of over 100 million, according to critics Ed Hogan and Wade Kergan. His influences include southern soul artists like Isaac Hayes, Clarence Carter, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin plus Motown artists The Supremes, The Four Tops and Marvin Gaye. Along with Isaac Hayes, White is considered by Allmusic.com as the first singer who played disco music before the actual period of the late 1970s.
Barry White was born Barry Eugene Carter in Galveston, Texas, and grew up in the high-crime areas of South Central Los Angeles. White was the elder of two brothers; his brother Darryl is 13 months younger. He grew up listening to his mother's classical music collection, and first took to the piano emulating what he heard on the records. His introduction to music later led to him playing piano on Jesse Belvin's hit single, "Goodnight My Love."
White recalled that, " I had a normal squeaky kid voice. Then as a teenager, that completely changed. My mother cried because she knew her baby boy had become a man."
During his teenage years, White and his brother got involved with crime and gang activity. At age 17, he was jailed for four months for stealing $30,000 worth of Cadillac tires.
White listened to Elvis Presley singing "It's Now or Never" on the radio, an experience he later credited with changing the course of his life.