Barry Manilow’s “Dream Duet” with John Denver Actually Happened

Barry Manilow’s latest album “My Dream Duets,” which includes unexpected pairings with his musical heroes, is an instant success as it debuted at #4 on the Billboard pop album charts making it his 15th Top 10 album.  Thanks to modern technology, Manilow was able to perform duets with legendary deceased performers he wished he had the opportunity to record with such as Whitney Houston, Jimmy Durante, Andy Williams, Judy Garland, Jimmy Durante, Sammy Davis, Jr., Mama Cass, Dusty Springfield, Frankie Lymon and John Denver.

One of the ‘dream duets’ on his album actually did happen on a Manilow TV special with guest John Denver.  On the CD, they sing the Denver standard “Sunshine on my Shoulders,” which is one of the highlights of the recording.  In real life, they sang a wonderful Everly Brothers hits medley which included their classics “Bye Bye Love,” “Cathy’s Clown,” “Let it Be Me,” “Till I Kissed You,” “Bird Dog,” “Wake Up Little Susie” and “All I Have to Do Is Dream.”

Check out that medley here:

Manilow has said his new record label Verve, asked him to record a duets album, which has been a popular and successful concept in recent years by such artists as Ray Charles, Elton John, Smokey Robinson, Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand and others. The trend of recording with other artists in different studios and sounding like it was sung together began with Frank Sinatra with his massively successful “Duets” and “Duets II” albums.

Manilow felt the concept had become perhaps cliché and was looking for a new way to make the idea fresh.  A light bulb went off and the idea of doing duets with performers he wished he had a chance to record with while they were alive was born.  Today’s technology allowed him to delete the backing vocals and music of the original recording and then add current orchestrations and Manilow’s voice.  A typical first response is that the concept seems odd and impossible to work…but it ends up being a unique and magical album.

More than 30 performers made the initial list, including his dream duet of “Strangers in the Night” with the late Frank Sinatra.  That was the one that got away, as the Sinatra Estate refused permission as they were planning several special events and recordings to celebrate Sinatra’s 100th birthday this year.  However, fans can still hear Manilow’s take on Sinatra’s standards on his 1998 CD “Manilow Sings Sinatra.”

Manilow is sure to perform some of his ‘dream duets’ on his upcoming “One Last Time” tour which will include Nationwide Arena in Columbus on March 1 with special guest sax great Dave Koz. He has already performed “What a Wonderful World” on the “Today Show” with Louis Armstrong on a large video screen.  Manilow did the same on QVC with “I Believe in You and Me” with Whitney Houston recently.  Check out that performance below.

For more information on Barry Manilow’s “One Last Time” concert at Nationwide Arena on March 1, go to the website


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