The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Veteran soul singer Barry White dies

Los Angeles, July 5 (Reuters): Veteran soul singer Barry White’s smooth bass voice stoked the romantic fires in music fans around the world for more than 30 years.

White died yesterday at the of 58, after a long battle with kidney disease, but his sensuous music will continue to provide a soundtrack for life’s passionate moments. His lushly orchestrated tunes, like Love Serenade and You’re the First, the Last, My Everything, sold millions of copies, and established his reputation as the love maestro. His music was as important as candelit dinners and sweet talking in setting the mood for lovers.

Bearded and overweight, White may not have conformed to the entertainment industry’s idea of a sex symbol, but he knew how to strike a chord with fans. His songs told “real stories of love and dealt with sex on an emotional level,” he said in his 1999 memoir, Love Unlimited: Insights On Life and Love.

A product of the ghettos of south-central Los Angeles, he had strong survival instincts. His last album, aptly titled Staying Power, won two Grammy Awards in 2000.

White was a deeply serious man. He had a head for business and enjoyed complete artistic control. He embraced civil rights causes and said that meeting Malcolm X was a highlight of his life. He also eschewed religion, telling Reuters in 1999 interview: “I don’t like stories, things I can’t prove.”

Born in Galveston, Texas, White was raised in the Los Angeles suburb of Watts, where he was exposed to daily gang violence. He burgled homes, stole cars, drank and fought. He became a father twice while still in his teens. While serving a five-month jail stint in 1960, he heard an Elvis Presley song that changed his life and he took the words of It’s Now or Never to heart.

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