Barry White: His Life, Death, and Everything In Between

barry white
Barry White in 17 February 1974. Image from the Dutch Archives from Wikimedia Commons.

Barry White was one of the most popular American singer-songwriters in the 70s, equipped with a powerful voice anyone will recognize. He’s won two Grammy awards, released multiple albums, and changed the world with his deep, rich voice and Billboard hot hits known around the world.

His years of success contributed to an extensive net worth, valuable property, and an incredible legacy. In this article, we’ll talk about Barry White’s net worth, how he gained his wealth, his life, and where he is buried, along with other facts you probably don’t know.

Barry White’s Net Worth

Barry White was worth a decent amount of money when he passed away in 2003. He was rich to the value of $20 million, worth much more now than back then. His net worth doesn’t just include his salary – it also includes his awards and other success points throughout his life.

White earned his net worth through his iconic love songs and albums, along with his performances and various deals. He made quite the career throughout his time performing as a professional singer in the music industry. He’s still worth the same $20 million now as he was in 2003.

barry white songs
Barry White in Italia with Vittorio Salvetti in 1978. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

How Did Barry White Get Rich?

Barry White grew rich through several means. He was smart with his talent and made many streams of wealth in his life, securing a wildly successful standing in the music world.

The primary way Barry White got rich was through his music and recordings, and by producing a Motown girls singing group. He released an impressive twenty studio albums throughout his career, several of which were certified gold and platinum. 

He is well known for his ability to cross genres, producing hits in disco, hip-hop, rock, and soul while still maintaining a reputation for singing about love just as Frank Sintra did a decade before.

Another source of income came from performing for others and working as a composer for other artists. He appeared in many concerts while touring and sang along with other singers of the era in his many collaborations. He is an integral part of American music. 

Finally, Barry White earned cash by appearing in commercials for cars and doing voicework for various TV shows and movies. He voiced himself in “The Simpsons” and Brother Bear

Barry White’s Cars

There isn’t too much information out there about Barry White’s cars, probably because this singer was too busy penning his songs about heartbreak. However, Danny Koker is known for famously restoring White’s 1979 Stutz IV-Porte for the family. 

The vehicle appeared on the show “Counting Cars” on the History Channel. In the episode, Barry White’s estate commissions a restoration company to bring the car back to life.

Barry White’s House

Another portion of Barry White’s estate was his home. White had a high net worth, and his home matched. His final home was in Sherman Oaks. It was a 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom, three-million-dollar wonderland of a home.

The home had everything needed for exciting gatherings, from a private swimming pool to plenty of parking spaces. When he passed, the house went to the Barry White Estate.

Barry White’s Early Life

Barry White made quite the name for himself over his career, but he didn’t start as a big name. White grew up in Galveston, Texas, teaching himself to play the piano and singing gospel with his mom. 

Most of White’s young life was spent growing up with his brother in one of the rougher areas of South-Central Los Angeles. Despite his circumstances, he made it clear he had talent right from the start, playing piano on “Goodnight My Love” by Jesse Belvin at eleven and directing a choir for a Baptist church years later.

Unfortunately, White ran into some trouble in his younger years. Not only did he already have children, but he also stole tires at sixteen and spent seven months in juvenile detention because of the crime. While in confinement, he heard a song that urged him to turn his life around – “It’s Now Or Never” by Elvis Presley and this inspired him.

From that day forward, White pushed on and strove towards something better for himself. Unfortunately, his brother never escaped their childhood and died in a shooting in their childhood neighborhood years later over a meaningless dispute. 

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Barry White’s Career

Barry White’s first career move came as a singer for a band called the Upfronts. He was a songwriter, arranger, and producer, carrying these hats to several other small bands in the area. He tried to release two albums under the pseudonym Barry Lee, but those fell short. 

White assisted with the launch of the R&B group Love Unlimited in the seventies, falling in love with singer Glodean James from the group. Soon after, he received an offer for a solo track and produced the iconic I’ve Got So Much To Give album.

Soon after, White’s career took off. He released smash hit after smash hit, from ballads like “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” to “You’re My First, My Last, My Everything”. People adored his charged lyrics, deep baritone voice, and glorious accompanying music. They even went crazy for his more instrumental numbers, showing Barry’s lyrical talent wasn’t the only thing they enjoyed.

Throughout his career, White received 106 gold albums and 41 platinum. He sold millions of copies of his music and even brought in two Grammy awards which is more than almost any other African-American singer to date. 

Although his style of music began to die down in popularity in the eighties, White remained at the top of his game in the music business. He made a comeback after starring in an episode of The Simpsons, as himself, and releasing the wildly successful album The Icon Is Love. He kept his popular status throughout the nineties by releasing hit songs until passing away in 2003.

Before his death, Barry White reported his career had been inspired by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, and The Beatles

barry white album
Viersen, Germany – January 9. 2020: Close up of vinyl vintage record cover of soul singer Barry White (focus on cover in front). Image from Shutterstock.

How Did Barry White Die?

Barry White was overweight for the entirety of his adult life, contributing to underlying health issues under the surface. He was also a smoker. Some sources report him smoking as much as 150 cigarettes a day, or about 7 to 8 packs. All did not benefit his body.

White took a break in 1995 after almost collapsing after a concert. That same year, he had a stroke from high blood pressure and was in a coma for four days. It was the beginning of a downhill spiral for White.

He toured with the Disco band Earth, Wind, & Fire in 1999 but had to cancel due to exhaustion and ongoing health struggles. He performed his last concerts in the 2000s before his hospitalization in 2002 for severe kidney failure.

White needed a kidney replacement. As he underwent dialysis, he experienced a severe stroke in May of 2003. He could no longer go outside and suffered multiple seizures after that point.

Due to White’s health, he couldn’t receive the transplant. He suffered severe cardiac arrest and died at age 58

Where Did Barry White Die?

Barry White died on July 4th, 2003, in Los Angeles. He passed away at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center under the care of medical professionals. 

Where Is Barry White Buried?

Barry White is not buried in a physical location like many other artists. Instead, his body was cremated. His loved ones chose to scatter his ashes from a boat along the California coast to provide a unique dedication to the late singer.

Scattering ashes is more popular nowadays than ever, with many people following suit after they have passed away. White had a deep connection to California, so it was only fitting that his ashes would be scattered along the coast of the place he loved. 

There was a small funeral onboard. Many were in attendance, including ex-wife Glodean James, Michael Jackson, the White children, and other family members and friends.

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Barry White’s Wife

Barry White had multiple relationships throughout his life, which did lead to some drama. He sang about love and had plenty of it in his life.

White’s first wife was Betty Smith, who was his childhood sweetheart. The pair married in the early 60s and were separated by 1969. In his autobiography, she is only referred to as Mary. The duo was married at just 19 years old.

Next, Barry White married Glodean James. Not only were the duo married, but they were also artistic collaborators, producing items like the 1981 album James & Glodean. In 1988, the pair decided to separate. However, they did not officially divorce and were still technically married until he died, although they carried on with separate lives.

His final relationship was with Katherine Denton, his partner until he died. He had a massive family and never put together a will to structure his wealth after his death, leading to extravagant drama between family members after he passed away.

Barry White’s Children

barry white jr
LOS ANGELES – APR 29: Barry White Jr at the 2017 Radio Disney Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater on April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA. Image from Shutterstock.

Barry White created a large family in his lifetime. They all carry on his legacy. He had multiple children by multiple women over the years he lived. It’s assumed he has at least nine children that we know about.

White had two children with his first wife by the time they were sixteen, ending up with four. One of the sons from his first marriage, Darryl White, sued in 2017 after reporting being cut off financially from the estate.

The singer also had four children with his second wife, Glodean James. One son, MacKevin, worked in White’s publishing administration. The second, Barry Jr., was White’s manager and played in the Love Unlimited Orchestra. His daughter, Shaherah, worked as his assistant.

White fathered a daughter with Gurtha Allen, though his daughter did not learn White was her father until her teenage years. Eventually, she received help from him and changed her last name to White. She sued the estate in 2016 after she stopped receiving money.

Katherine Denton claimed her infant, whom she gave birth to after his death, was the child of White, but a paternity test proved she wasn’t. Many childhood claims, unfortunately, were for the sake of money after White’s passing.

Barry White Collaborations

Barry White was a number-one musician and inspiration to many others and has been known to write songs for many popular artists still performing today. Because of his ability to write for any genre, it’s not uncommon to see his compositions continue to pop up in the punk, folk, and rap industries today.

Artists like Rihanna, Eminem, Drake, and Lady Gaga have even sampled some of his songs over the years. While most of these samples aren’t available on streaming services like Apple Music or Spotify, they can be found with a quick Google search. Most streaming services do have Barry White’s original music, however, featuring his famous baritone voice. 

His most famous collaborations were duets with Tina Turner on the song “In Your Wildest Dreams” and Chris Rock on the song “Basketball Jones” both of which appeared on the Space Jam movie soundtrack. 

Barry White also famously collaborated with Lisa Stansfield, Viola Willis, and 5th Dimension as a recording artist. 

Although he wasn’t inducted in life, Barry White was added to the Dance Music Hall of Fame in 2004 after his death. 


Barry White was a legend in the music world. No matter who you are, it’s easy to recognize the crooning, deep voice left behind by the icon. Barry White listeners everywhere mourned the day this songwriting genius died and no vocalist will ever rise to take his place. 

Although White is gone, his soulful music and lyric legacy remain forever. He was one of the greats in classic music history. He forever made his mark on this earth thanks to his fun pop songs and memorable love ballads. As can be seen, by Barry White’s net worth, he will be missed, but his legacy lives on. 

So don’t forget to add at least one Barry White song to your next playlist, chances are you can find one in the exact genre you were looking for! 

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Written by Hope Davis

Long-time music lover Hope became a full-time writer in 2020 after being laid off from her regular job due to COVID-19. She now spends her time traveling the world to see her favorite bands while writing about them!


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