Barry Manilow, whose parade of high-spirited hits from Copacabana to Mandy made him one of pop music’s most beloved showmen, has spoken out in detail about the support of the secret lover who later became his husband.

The Brooklyn-born singer, 80, revealed how Garry Kief, the star’s manager, whom he finally married in 2014 after a clandestine relationship lasting more than 35 years, “saved my life” during his rise to peak fame in the late 1970s.

“As my career exploded, it was just crazy. And, you know, going back to an empty hotel room, you can get into a lot of trouble if you, you know, you’re alone night after night after night,” Manilow, whose real name is Barry Pincus, told the host of Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace, streaming on CNN Max.

“But I met Garry right around when it was exploding. And I didn’t have to go back to those empty hotel rooms. I had somebody to cry with or to celebrate with,” he said.

Manilow continued: “I wish that young people, that they don’t have to go back to those hotel rooms by themselves because you get yourself in trouble. I never did. But it was pretty lonely until I met Garry. And then it was fun.”

While the singer has previously acknowledged his longtime secret relationship with Kief, most notably in his coming out interview with People magazine in 2017 after decades of hiding his sexuality, he has always been very guarded about further details.

The interview with Wallace opens a window into the dynamic between the couple, including how Kief was a part of his decision to announce the relationship publicly, but how they found talking about their private life “creepy”.

“I think [coming out] was a non-event for me. Really, Garry and I’ve been together for so long it just never dawned on me it’s ever going to come out,” he said.

“In the 70s, you know, you didn’t. It wasn’t the same as it is today. Now being gay is no big deal but back in the 70s it would have killed a career. The public was not ready for anybody to come out,” Manilow said.

He went on: “And frankly, it was just too personal. I just didn’t want to talk about my personal life anyway. I never did that. I was happy talking about music. But talking about my personal life was just kind of creepy to me. So I never did. When we came out, I think everybody knew that Garry and I were a couple all those years.”

Manilow also spoke about difficulties following his 1964 wedding to his high-school sweetheart Susan Deixler. The couple stayed together for one year, and the marriage was annulled in 1966.

“We had a very nice marriage, it was great, but I was away every night making music as a young musician would be and it just, it wasn’t good for me and it wasn’t good for her,” he said.

“I couldn’t be the proper husband. I was just away making music with a band. I wrote an off-Broadway musical called the Drunkard. And I was having a ball. I just couldn’t be a husband.”

He has previously said that he was in love with Dreixler, and that the failure of their marriage was not related to his being gay.

“I was out making music every night, sowing my wild oats. I wasn’t ready to settle down,” Manilow said in the 2017 interview.

The singer celebrated his 80th birthday in June, but says he has no plans to retire from a career that has spanned a half-century, with more than 50 albums, 15 number one singles and more than 85m records sold.

He is currently in the 14th year of a residency at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino and has announced concert dates through December 2024.

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