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Soul Singer Barry White Dead at 58


Barry White's rich bass voice combined with throbbing musical arrangements that often included lush string sections earning him the nickname "The Maestro Of Love." The 58-year-old White died Friday in Los Angeles from complications of kidney failure and high blood pressure.

White's life story was a classic tale of a troubled youth raised in the Los Angeles suburb of Watts who became the romantic figurehead of the disco age.

Born in Texas to a single mother in 1944, White grew up in southern California, where he was exposed to gang violence on a daily basis. He committed petty crimes including burglary and auto theft. A five-month jail term in 1960 convinced him to change his life. White credits the Elvis Presley hit, It's Now Or Never, as the inspiration for his new lifestyle, one devoted to music.

White joined a soul group, The Upfronts, as bass singer. Shortly thereafter, he turned his attention to songwriting and producing.

Barry White discovered Love Unlimited, a female trio, and produced their 1972 hit song, Walking In The Rain (With The One I Love). A year later, he returned to performing with I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More, Baby. The song was a Number One R&B hit, peaking at Number Three on the pop chart.

Barry White came to be regarded as one of the pioneers of the disco phenomenon when he conducted The Love Unlimited Orchestra's hit, Love's Theme.

A 1974 album reached the top of the pop chart on the strength of the title track, Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe.

After recording more than a dozen albums in the 1970s, White's popularity and career waned in the following decade before he made a significant comeback with The Icon Is Love, the 1994 album that included Practice What You Preach, his first Number One hit in 17 years.

Barry White won Grammy Awards in the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best Traditional R&B performance for the title song from his 1999 album, Staying Power.

Later in the 1990s, White's songs were regularly featured on the TV comedy, Ally McBeal. He also made an appearance on the program, playing himself. In addition, White's voice was heard on episodes of the animated television series, The Simpsons.

In 1999, however, chronic blood pressure problems forced the heavyset performer to cancel several concert dates with R&B group Earth, Wind and Fire. The blood pressure ailment lead to kidney disease. White had been undergoing dialysis treatment and had been hospitalized since last September. In May, the singer suffered a stroke.

He is survived by his companion, Catherine Denton, eight children and several grandchildren. Soul singer Barry White dead at 58.

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