Barry White, the singer, was born Barry Eugene Carter in Galveston, Texas on September 12, 1944, and grew up in South Central Los Angeles. White was the older of two children. His brother Darryl was 13 months younger than Barry. He grew up listening to his mother's classical music collection and first took to the piano, emulating what he heard on the records.
White has often been credited with playing piano, at age 11, on Jesse Belvin's 1956 hit single, "Goodnight My Love." However, in a 1995 interview with Larry Katz of the Boston Herald, White denied writing or arranging the song. He believed the story was an exaggeration by journalists.
While White and Belvin lived in the same neighborhood, Belvin was 12 years older than Barry White. He also stated that he had no involvement with Bob & Earl's 1963 hit single "Harlem Shuffle", a song he is credited with producing and in his 1999 autobiography, White confirmed the song had been produced by Gene Page, who had worked with him on many of Barry White's 1970s successes.
Barry White Music Collection
White's voice deepened suddenly when he was 14. White recalled: "[As a child], 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."
Gang life and jail sentence
His brother Darryl was murdered in a clash with a rival gang, and White himself was jailed—at the age of 16—for stealing $30,000 worth of Cadillac tires.
While in jail, Barry 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.