IN a world where pomposity and put-downs are the norm, hitmaker Barry Blue has kept his feet firmly on the ground.
The music producer, writer and singer believes it is important to remain humble.
It is probably why he has enjoyed such success over many decades.
So far, his body of studio work has sold 30 million records across the globe.
And Barry is adding another string to his bow by making a new album, Songs From The Heart Book.
It will be released in the autumn, but is previewed with a new EP, Boy In The Moon, which is out today.
The EP includes the title song, previously a hit in Australia and New Zealand for New Zealand artist Margaret Ulrich; Escaping, which was a number one for pop-soul vocalist Dina Carroll; and new track Delicate Beauty.
“I see the album as a legacy to the songs I have written over 50 years, but which were recorded by other people,” Barry told me.
“They fell short because either the artist or management did not deliver them in the way I wanted.
“It is about wanting to leave something behind.
“An analogy I use is that my great-grandfather, who came to Britain from Russia, brought with him a mahogany sideboard, which my grandfather and then my father inherited.
“It is part of my great-grandfather, so this is something I am leaving for my kids and grandchildren.”
The 68-year-old’s songs have been covered or sampled by stars such as Gene Pitney, Celine Dion, Diana Ross and Andrea Bocelli through to Missy Elliott, Redman and Philip Bailey, of Earth Wind & Fire.
Barry also worked with fellow songwriter Rod Temperton, on Heatwave’s Boogie Nights, which sold three million copies, and, in the modern era, with The Saturdays and The Wanted.
“I have always said that an important characteristic is being able to stay down-to-earth,” Barry said.
“I have always been able to sleep at night, which hopefully means I have never done anything I regret.
“I also never got involved with all the drugs, sex and rock ’n roll — I was on the periphery.
“The drugs were always there, but I just got on with what I was doing, which was creating music.”
And, unlike many of his peers in the industry who go through wives every few years, Barry has been married to Lynda, the mother of his three children, for 46 years.
“I attribute my success to Lynda,” he enthused. “She has always been behind me in whatever I wanted to do.
“If there was a choice of buying a three-piece suite or spending the money on paying a studio to work on a record, she would encourage me to do the latter.
“Lynda has always been there to guide me along the path.”
His life began in the Maida Vale area of London, where he was born Barry Ian Green.
Barry’s father, Harry, died when he was three and he grew up with his mum, Renee, and half-sister, Sandra.
And it was Ron Roker, Sandra’s then-boyfriend, who encouraged his burgeoning music career.
“Ron was a songwriter and when he used to come over to the house, I took an interest in what he was doing,” added Barry, who is of Russian and Polish descent.
“He showed me how to play the chords on a guitar and, after I had saved enough money, I bought my own guitar.
“I am still very friendly with Rod.”
Barry first made his mark, albeit with his school band The Dark Knights, on Granada Television’s children’s talent programme Silver Star Show.
That led to him signing with record producer Norrie Paramor, whose assistant was Tim Rice.
Rice produced Barry’s first song Rainmaker Girl – which was a hit for Pitney in America.
Barry went on to become a bassist in Spice, a group which was the precursor of Uriah Heep.
However, wanting to sample life behind the scenes, he spent two years in A&R at the Bee Gees’ publishing company Abigail Music, under the group’s manager Robert Stigwood.
Barry recalled: “I started out as a gopher and was tasked with trying to keep the boys talking to each other because they had all fallen out.
“I also had to keep Maurice (Gibb) sober when Lulu, who was his wife at the time, was due to see him.
“I got on with all of them, though, especially Maurice as he was a real laugh. Robin was a bit more deep, while Barry was always the star.”
Barry began his professional career as a songwriter when he joined a group of them, which included Ron Roker and Lynsey de Paul, who was born Lyndsey Rubin in London to Jewish parents.
Barry had his first UK Single Charts songwriting credit in 1972, with de Paul, called Sugar Me, which was covered in America by Nancy Sinatra.
But he continued to perform, too, signing with Decca Records, with whom he released four singles, before moving to Bell Records in 1973, where he had five hit singles — the most famous being Dancin’ (On A Saturday Night), which he co-wrote with de Paul.
Barry, however, preferred to produce artists rather than perform himself.
He explained: “I wanted to write songs and give them to artists.
“I wanted to do what I wanted to do, instead of being told what to do as I knew what my capabilities were.
“I was much happier writing songs, producing records and doing everything myself, and then delivering it to a label, where I could say, ‘this is it, this what I want to put out’.
“Rod Temperton, who wrote Thriller and other mega hits, was the same. He was another who would not be persuaded by other people telling him what to do.
“It is very rare that you find someone as gifted as him.”
Barry’s career was on an upward trajectory in the 1970s, writing Kiss Me Kiss Your Baby for Brotherhood of Man, which was a huge hit in Europe and paved the way to their Eurovision Song Contest win in 1976.
He also co-wrote Devil’s Gun, which was the first record played at the opening of New York’s famous Studio 54 club, while perhaps his biggest success came with the multi-racial band Heatwave, with whom he produced the songs Boogie Nights, Always and Forever, Mind Blowing Decisions and The Groove Line.
“Boogie Nights starts with a jazz part, which I was determined to do,” Barry recalled.
“In those days, music was formulaic, so with a funk act they would be asked to do certain things, but I wanted to make sure this record with different.”
Barry, who has also produced Bananarama, Darcus Knight and Toto Coelo, and written for Louise, Danni Minogue and Pixie Lott, believes there are no real stars today, mainly because music is far more disposable.
“Records are much cheaper to make, so there is an over-abundance of mediocrity,” he said.
“Back in the 70s and 80s, if you had a good song and it was recorded well, you had to be pretty good.
“Today everyone thinks they are an artist or songwriter because they can make a song in their bedroom.
“Sure, there are people like Adele, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay, but they are few and far between.
“I am hoping that people will go back to learning to write lyrics and songs.
“The one positive is that today you do not have to look like a star to be successful because, back in the day, you wouldn’t have got an Adele or Sheeran because of the way they look.”
The way music is consumed has completely changed since Barry started his career in the industry, too.
“It has affected everyone in the music business, for sure,” he added.
“A plus is that record companies are earning vast fortunes when people stream back catalogues, but the royalties have not elevated the way technology has.
“Today, a record can be made and, even if it is played a million times on Spotify, the writer will earn around £100 out of it. It is ridiculous.”
Barry, whose son Jordan works in A&R, describes himself as “not religious in any way”, but is a staunch Zionist and frequent visitor to Israel.
“The BDS movement is just antisemitism,” the grandfather-of-six claimed. “I support Israel in any way I can.
“I know governments have their problems, but what Israel has done for the world is phenomenal and that is why people are jealous, but then again humans are.”
Despite approaching 70, he is not thinking about retirement.
In fact, if his forthcoming album is a success, he is planning on taking it on the road with musicians he has worked with before.
“It has definitely been the right time to do it, although I should have done it earlier,” Barry said.
“Making it has been the highlight of my career.”
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