He’d spent most of the 1960s paying dues behind the scenes, but by 1974, Barry White was reaping the rewards for all his hard work. After scoring his first UK top ten hit in his own right in the summer with ‘Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Babe,’ the 7 December chart had the native Texan climbing to the summit with ‘You’re The First, The Last, My Everything.’
White had been working as both producer and manager for the female trio Love Unlimited since the late 1960s. He landed them a deal at Uni Records and helped them into the charts on both sides of the Atlantic in 1972 with the million-selling ‘Walkin’ In The Rain With The One I Love.’ It wasn’t until the following year that he started to record himself under his own name.
Signing himself, his production company and Love Unlimited to 20th Century Records, which was relaunching, Barry discovered the deeply romantic and string-laden sound which would serve him so well for many years. Both of his first two albums, I’ve Got So Much Love To Give and Stone Gon,’ went gold in the States and produced national and international hits, while his success as a producer continued with the instrumental ‘Love’s Theme,’ credited to the Love Unlimited Orchestra and featuring White conducting a 40-piece orchestra.
Then came the new album Can’t Get Enough, the near-title track hit ‘Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe’ and the phenomenon of ‘You’re The First, The Last, My Everything.’ Remarkably, this was a song with origins going back to 1956, when Peter Radcliffe wrote it as a country and western-style piece called ‘You’re The First, The Last, The In-Between.’ He demo’d the song, but couldn’t get any interest in it for nearly 20 years, until White had the imagination to record it as a romantic early disco piece.
The track reached No. 2 in the US, stopping behind Elton John’s cover of ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,’ and topped the R&B survey. British fans lapped up the song, taking the track to No. 1 exactly 42 years ago for a two-week run. Barry’s role as the new love man of soul music was well and truly confirmed.
Purchase ‘You’re The First, The Last, My Everything’ on Barry White’s Can’t Get Enough album here.
Follow the official Barry White Best Of playlist.