Saturday, July 9, 2011


Bette Midler is best known today as a comedic actress and Vegas entertainer but when she first started her career, she was simply a dynamic singer. She got her start in New York, performing at a gay bathhouse (with a young Barry Manilow accompanying her on the piano), which is where I'm sure she developed her sense of style and humor.

This created interest in this brash performer and she released her debut album, "The Divine Miss M" in 1972 with Mr. Manilow as a co-producer and the musical arranger. The record featured many of the songs that she performed in her act and other classic material. Midler had top forty hits with, "Do You Want To Dance", "Friends" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (LP Version)" which made it to number eight on the charts. The album sold over a million copies and won her the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

One of my favorite songs is her take of "Superstar (LP Version)" (co-written by Leon Russell) with the best known version by The Carpenters in 1971. The song was originally written about a groupie longing for the return of a rock& roll superstar to her bed but it's been watered down since then.

I think Karen Carpenter's version is great but Miss M. made it like a completely different song as she slowed it down, with her vocals full of yearning and pain, making the song understated and brilliant.

Have a listen:

"Superstar" - Bette Midler (1972)

Here she is performing "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" live on one of her early televsion specials:


During a loving musical tribute while receiving this year's lifetime achievement award from BET, we were reminded of what an amazing ...