New York (AFP) - Chart-topping singer Barry Manilow came out of the closet Wednesday at age 73, saying he kept silent on his nearly four-decade relationship with a man to avoid disappointing fans.
Manilow, best known for his love ballad "Mandy" and Latin-tinged pop number "Copacabana (at the Copa)"), confirmed his sexuality two years after gossip media discovered his marriage to his manager Garry Kief.
"I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything," Manilow said in an interview with People magazine.
After the interview was published Manilow was busy on Twitter rejoicing in the reaction, writing: "I am grateful to have wonderful fans supporting me."
Manilow at the height of his career had a devoted and largely female fan base, for whom his sexuality gradually became an open secret.
The Brooklyn native was briefly married to a woman he dated in high school, although he said in the interview that the relationship failed because he was too young to settle down, not because of his questions about his sexuality.
He said he met Kief, then a television executive, in 1978 and "I knew that this was it."
"I was one of the lucky ones. I was pretty lonely before that," Manilow said.
Manilow achieved his greatest fame in the 1970s, years before pop stars were comfortable in being openly gay.
Manilow in recent years has become a leading attraction in Las Vegas where he has had several running shows.
Later this month he releases his latest album -- "This Is My Town," consisting of songs about New York that include pop standards and original compositions.