June 6th, 2011
03:39 PM ET
Barry Manilow sings about the pleasures and pitfalls of fame on "15 Minutes," his upcoming CD that was inspired by a certain blonde pop princess.
"The thing we started to think about was when Britney Spears was being hounded by the paparazzi," Manilow tells the L.A. Times of his concept for the album. "They were driving her crazy. She couldn't have a life without them pulling up next to her car and following her and driving her crazy to the point where, that was around the time she shaved off her hair. I think they actually helped to drive her crazy. We all looked at it in horror… and I said, 'Is this what happens these days?' So it seemed like a thing to be writing an album about."
Manilow, whose new disc drops June 14, also drew inspiration from the young talent he worked with as a mentor on "American Idol."
"What I saw was a lot of young people becoming famous very quickly, overnight," he says. "I've done three 'American Idols,' and it was an amazing thing to watch these young, talented people becoming household names within months. And I remember when I got hit with it, with 'Mandy,' that I was an adult. And yet when 'Mandy' hit, it knocked me for a loop. It turned me into a person I didn't like."
The singer-songwriter admits he began treating people badly.
"I felt I was being demanding. I felt like I was not treating people kindly. But most of all I didn't like where I found myself," he says. "I remember this night in Florida about five years, four years into my beginning of this trip—I don't like the word 'celebrity'—my fame trip. And I was outside in a rocking chair looking at the stars, and I realized that everybody in my house that I was renting on a beach in Florida I was paying. Everybody around me I was paying. My friends had seemed to have disappeared. And this craziness becomes a job, a job that I'm grateful for and that I like, but it's not my life. I had to rethink everything."
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