Barry Manilow is the first to admit that he's never been one to share his private life with the public. Headlines about his secret marriage to manager Garry Kief in 2014 forced him to come out as gay in 2015, but he hasn't discussed his sexuality or marriage much since -- until now.
The 73-year-old singer opened up to People magazine for a rare interview inside his Palm Springs home, where he lives with Kief and where they tied the knot. Manilow told the magazine that when the pair met in 1978, "I knew that this was it," adding, "I was one of the lucky ones. I was pretty lonely before that."
Despite being in love with Kief, who serves as Manilow's manager and acts as President of Barry Manilow Productions, Manilow admitted that he was concerned about how fans would react upon finding out that he was gay. "I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything," Manilow said.
Fortunately, as he points out, the reaction was opposite. "When they found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy. The reaction was so beautiful -- strangers commenting, 'Great for you!' I'm just so grateful for it."
The support inspired Manilow to get more personal than he ever has before, even acting as People's latest cover star. Referring to Kief as "the smartest person I've ever met in my life," he also revealed that it hasn't always been easy being in a relationship as a superstar. This was especially true early on, when they were in the car after one of Manilow's concerts and fans were shaking the car.
"He was like, 'I can't handle this. It's not for me,'" Manilow recalls. Yet, Kief let love win, and the two have now been together for almost 39 years. "I'm glad he stayed."
Manilow's People cover story will hit newstands on Friday (April 7).