Barrence Whitfield

Barrence Whitfield (born Barry White) came to Boston from New Jersey in the late ’70s to attend Boston University after fronting hard rock, disco, and even progressive rock bands. But he never sang any soul or R&B music until he met Boston musicians, including ex-Lyres guitarist Peter Greenberg, who shared Whitfield’s love of high energy soul and R&B music performed by artists like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Little Richard. In 1983, Barrence Whitfield & the Savages were born. The band, including Greenberg and drummer Howie Ferguson, were wild men on stage. Barrence would scream and croon soulfully in the same set, sometimes doing cartwheels and somersaults across the stage. Their debut LP, released in 1984, received extensive airplay on local Boston radio stations, and the band toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe in support of it. England went wild for Whitfield, especially after the BBC aired one of the band’s Boston shows. That performance made fans out of the likes of Robert Plant and Elvis Costello, among others. Whitfield released annual discs between 1985 and 1988, and more discs in 1993, 1995 and 2005. He continues to perform with various incarnations of The Savages and also fronts other roots rock bands. He remains one of the great screamers in the history of Boston pop music.

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