Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil were upset when "Only in America," a song they'd written with the team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and originally conceived for and recorded by The Drifters as a cynical broadside against racial prejudice, was re-worked by Leiber and Stoller into a uncontroversial hit for Jay & the Americans.
Born Barry Imberman, in Brooklyn, New York, man was half of a prolific song writng duo along with his wife, Cynthia Weil.
Mann and lyricist Cynthia Weil operated a publishing company called Dyad Music. Mann's first hit single as a writer was "She Say (Oom Dooby Doom)," a Top 20 song for The Diamonds in 1959. Mann co-wrote the song with Carole King's then husband, Gerry Goffin.
In 1961, Mann had his biggest hit to that time with "I Love How You Love Me," written with Larry Kolber and a No. 5 single for The Paris Sisters, and seven years later, a top ten hit for Bobby Vinton. Also in 1961, Mann himself hit the Top 40 as a performer with a novelty song co-written with Goffin, "Who Put The Bomp," which parodied the popular doo-wop genre. The song made the Top 40.
Despite his success as a singer with "Who Put the Bomp," Mann spent most of his time writing songs for others. He met his wife and lyricist when both were staff songwriters at Don Kirshner's and Al Nevin's Aldon Music, near the famed composing-and-publishing factory, the Brill Building.
Mann and Weil, who married in 1961, helped pioneer the more socially conscious side of the Brill Building-era songbook with hits such as "Uptown" by The Crystals, "We Gotta Get out of This Place" by the Animals, "Magic Town" by the Vogues and "Kicks" by Paul Revere & the Raiders.
As of May 2009, Mann's song catalog lists 635 songs. He has received 56 pop, country, and R&B awards from Broadcast Music Incorporated, and 46 Millionaire Awards for radio performances numbering over one million plays. The song "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," co-written with Weil and Phil Spector, was the most played song of the 20th century, with more than 14 million plays.
Mann has composed songs for films, most notably "Somewhere Out There," co-written with Weil and James Horner, for the 1986 animated hit An American Tail. Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram, who performed the song as a duet over the film's closing credits, saw their version released as a single, which reached No. 2 on the Billboards charts and became a gold record.
"Somewhere Out There" won two 1987 Grammy Awards, as Song Of The Year and Best Song Written for a Motion Picture or Television. "Somewhere Out There" was also nominated for a 1986 Oscar as best song, but lost to "Take My Breath Away" from Top Gun.
Mann's other film work includes the scores for I Never Sang for My Father and Muppet Treasure Island, and songs for National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Oliver and Company.
In 1987, Mann and Weil were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. They were also named among the 2010 recipients of Ahmet Ertegun Award from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.