Dionne Warwick’s solo career began whilst she was still at college and singing background on demo records for songwriters and producers.It was during one of those sessions that she first met Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
Burt Baharach; I met Dionne at a rehearsal for a background group that was going to sing behind The Drifters. I think the song was song that I wrote with Bob Hillard called Mexican Divorce. And there were four girls in the group. They were brilliant, they made a great sound. You had Dionne, her sister Dee Dee, her cousin Myrna and her aunt Cissy. They just made a splendid sound, I mean they were so musical, they all are, but Dionne kind of stood out….. it was just the way she looked, those great high cheek bones. She just had a look like maybe something very special.
Hal David; Well Dionne wanted to sing and asked to do some demo records for us; and we invited her up to ‘Famous Music’ where Burt and I had an office. And then she sang for us. She was just unbelievable. I’ll never forget seeing her, I mean she always had that great face and she came up and she was wearing torn jeans; and she wasn’t wearing make up and her hair wasn’t fantastic, but her face was fantastic, with those great high cheek bones. And then she started to sing and you know, she was magical….she is magical.
Burt Bacharach; She was special, it was like, we had ‘a home run’. We took her into the studio and made a demo, I think it was the song ‘Make It Easy On Yourself”. She was good.
Hal David; The head publisher at Famous Music, Eddie Warpen, sent it off to Jerry Butler …and Jerry Butler loved it and came to the studio to record it and Dionne heard the record and she was ‘heartsick, angry, angry heartsick. She said ‘thats my song, thats my song, how can you give that to Jerry Butler?’ We had to explain, that’s how it goes with publishing, we were making demos with her and this was supposed to be a commercial record. Well she was very angry…so we went ahead and got her a recording contract, with Scepter Records, where Dionne had so much enormous success.
Hal David; And we sat down to write songs just for Dionne..and the first one we wrote for her and the first one we recorded for her, was ‘Don’t Make Me Over’ which turned out to be, not only her first ‘hit’, but also a world class ‘hit’.
Dionne Warwick; I was still in school and my mother was very adamant about the fact, ‘you will finish your education’…and it was sort of a ‘pre-graduation’ gift. ‘Dont Make Me Over, my first record
Hal David; I don’t ever remember being so excited about a singer, especially a singer doing my songs, as I was about Dionne. I didn’t know, because one doesn’t know, that its going to be a big hit or not. But I knew I wanted to be with her forever…
‘Marie Dionne Warrick’ was born in Orange, New Jersey into a gospel-music family. Her father, was a gospel record promoter for Chess Records and her mother managed the Drinkard Sisters, a gospel group consisting of her relatives. She started singing in the choir at the age six at the St Luke’s Methodist Church in Newark. New Jersey. After graduating from high school in 1959, she earned a music scholarship to the Hartt College of Music in Hartford, Conneticut. As a teenager, she formed a singing group called the Gospelaires with her sister Dee Dee , Myrna Utley, Sylvia Shimmerwell and Carol Slade.
Cissy Houston (Aunt); Music was so much a part of our family because every time we had Thanksgiving Dinner, it was usually at Dionne’s house, her mother was my older sister, and we all came together and before we left, we were all singing, everybody was singing and we all had such a good time. So music was embedded in us and that was just one of the things we did.
Dee Dee Warwick (sister); My Grandfather was a Minister, his son, my father was a Deacon at the church, my mother’s father also was a Deacon and my grandmother was a missionary and a nurse there and a mother of the church, so I mean where else could we go….?
Cissy Houston; Dionne was in my choir, and Dee Dee, both of them were in my choir and she could sing, she couldn’t help but sing, everything around her was singing, you know what I’m saying. Her mother sang first in church, and Dionne sang in the church, but she didn’t really want that church thing….she wanted this….you know…she wanted a career….
Following the success of Don’t make me over, Scepter Records released Dionne’s first album filled with many of the original Burt Bacharach and Hal David’sdemo songs and Dionne left college to embark on a full time singing career. After only her first single, the former background sing had become a star and within two years went from hit record to hit record to hit record. She became the first black female artist to record twelve consecutive top 100 singles. Classic Burt Bacharachand Hal David songs such as Anyone Who Had aHeart and Walkon By made Dionne, America’s top-selling female artist.
Mary Wilson (The Supremes); The song Don’t Make me Over was out and I recall just falling in love with the song first of all because it was such a soul-full song and obviously her voice was something unique and different at the time. Because there weren’t a lot of solo females at that point, so she brought a whole new trend to the foreground, in terms of rock and roll or pop.
Freda Payne (singer) ;When I first heard her voice I thought she has a good sound, a nice commercial sound, easy listening, the songs are good…and I thought this girls got it!
Burt Bacharach; You know, she’s got that magical voice, she’s always had it, its immediately recognisable, you know its her. You know its Dusty, you know its Dionne, you know its Aretha, and you know its Gladys. There are some voices like that and there are other voices that you say ‘Who is that? Sounds great but who is it?
George Duke; I truly believe, the first song that really kind of ‘messed me up’ was ‘The Look of Love’ because that was a big hit, it was part of a film, so I was drawn in to the melody. But it wasn’t just the composition, the composition was amazing, but the performance and the voice that went with that was such a marriage, that I had never heard anything quite like that.This was a new kind of black act as far as I was concerned, I mean I had heard Smokey Robinson, some funk, some other kind of things, but I had never really heard this kind of song done by a black artist.
Quincy Jones;Her records are just like brush strokes, like on my face with a feather, the touch was so fresh and different and the backgrounds and Dionne’s interpretation. It was just like I said a very natural fit of her and Burt’s songs. Because they were really different from anything that was out there.I mean “Alfie” give me a break you know, what.s more beautiful ? And I think Burt worked on that song for thirteen weeks
Sir Michael Caine; Thats my girl, I remember when I first started, I made a picture called ‘Alfie’ and Burt Bacharach wrote the song and she went to number one with it, ……but I was already a fan of hers long before that.
By this time, the songwriting team ofBacharach and David had become synonymous with the songs that Dionne Warwick sang.
Dionne Warwick; We were truly partners, we were known in the industry as a ‘Triangle Marriage’that worked. Simply meaning that each one of us brought our expertise to the table, Burt his melody, Hal his lyrics; and me, the ability to bring that to the listening ear.
Hal David; The three of us became a trio, I think that was quite clear, we had so much success together.I think we influenced the way Dionne sang and I think Dionne influenced the way we wrote. I think it would have been impossible for it not to have happened. I don’t think it happened consciously, I just think it happened. It was ‘Osmosis’.
Burt Bacharach; Dionne was like this most fluid singer, that the more I recorded for her, the more we wrote for her, the more I could take her to places musically, that in somebody else’s hands, somebody else singing. It would have been laboured, under duress. I mean I could point to the song ‘Promises Promises, Dionne floats though that. Somebody else, they could be struggling….and they usually were..But she just had a mobility and a fluidity that just kind of took her through things. But beside that, the more I saw what she could do musically, the more chances I could take, the more risks I could take.
Along with the famous songwriting partnerships of Burt Bacharach and Hal David and Lieber andStoller, there was also another partnership of songwriters emerging, that were writing hits for the legendary Tamla Motown label . Holland, Dozier & Holland
Eddie Holland (Holland, Dozier, Holland) Burt was just very fortunate, because the type of music that he does, he sort of leans more towards the classic type of songwriting. He was very fortunate to find an artist like Dionne Warwick, who’s voice was very classic in sound. She did not have…it wasn’t R&B, it wasn’t done with typical gospel sounds although I’m sure she grew up in the gospel scene and around the same type of music we were, but her voice is really a classic voice. He was very fortunate to find such a unique sounding voice. I remember when I first heard her record, I thought the song was very good, I liked the production, but I was more enthralled with the artist.
Quincy Jones; Dionne’s range was spectacular and she had to have that range because the songs would drop in all manner of octave jumps you know, major second and then an octave higher you know instantaneously, that’s not a natural leap you know, its a very distinctive leap, but it’s not a natural leap for a song or to sing a song. But Burt felt it and Dionne felt it…and expressed it.
Abdul “Duke” Fakir (The Four Tops) How fortunate she is and we are to have people that give us those kind of songs that we have, because the music really brings out what we have in us. A lot of people could interpret it another way but, like us, we had Holland, Dozier , Holland, who just tailor-made some great songs for us. Same with her and Burt Bacharach, he just ‘tailor-made some of the finest dresses’ for her to sing
George Duke Back then it was important for artists to be unique, have unique musical identities and Dionne definitely had that and that’s what made it work so well, especially with the work she did with Burt Bacharach, because for whatever reason the depth the composition that he was supplying along with the lyric that Hal David would have supplied, along with that voice…made that work. That was a serious harmony there.
Dionne Warwick The one infamous song, that everybody still has a smile on their faces, especially in the UK, is ‘Anyone Who had A Heart’, which I had to actually ready on the day because they had not completed it when I heard it, prior to recording it.
Sir Cliff Richard Well I have had a series of duets over the years with people, most of us like to sing with other singers and you know the lucky ones get the best and when we were compiling the album, putting together all the stuff that I have recorded over the last few years, we thought we needed to add a few new recordings, you know, duets I had never done before. And Dionne was an obvious choice for me because she represents a period that I come from too, and her voice remains true, its such a beautiful warm voice and I just thought it would be…well I was lucky, she was in the country and said yes, and she will in fact I believe enhance my album greatly. I always listen to other people’s records, particularly the ones that are hits and you are often thinking, why couldn’t I get that one first? But thats the way it goes and I guess people listen to ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’ and think I wish we had got that one first, its one of those things that happens amongst us I am sure….but I did do, I never recorded it but I did do a liver version of it on an album once. I was on tour with Olivia Newton John and Pat Farrow, they had seen us dueting together when I met them and then of course when they came over. They were in m y backing group and I used to like to sing with them…and we used to sing ‘Walk On By’ walk on by…and so you know, we take from everybody and I hope Dionne doesn’t mind.
Hal David I can hear Dionne in my ears as I am writing a song, as I’m writing lyrics, I can hear her singing it in my ear. I know what she is going to sound great in ; and what she may not sound quite as good in.
Dionne Warwick For me, what makes a good song, are the words first, something that i feel comfortable saying and I feel have meaning; and can be applied, you know to what I’m doing or what I’ve heard from a friend that’s happened…thats very very important to me, to relate, one on one, with words. And of course a memorable melody, something that anybody can hum, I’ve heard truck drivers humming my songs, so its a combination of the two, that they work well together…but I look at a lyric first.
Hal David She sang a lyric and portrayed the story that I wrote and others have written, That got exactly, at least in my case, what I was feeling when I wrote it. Its hard to translate that from one person to another, but it always translated with her..
Anna Marie (Actress) You always listen to the words, as an actor, voices are one thing, but when you hear the story, you see the people in the songs. That’s when you say, that’s wonderful, because you see the people she’s singing about, you see the heartache, you know the feelings…. its a hard one to wake up today, she’s not going to talk to you any more…You understood every single time she sang.
Hal David She just says the words sitting on a note.. In such a ….personal…..melodic….telling way that no one can teach you, its something that’s born inside of you
Quincy Jones Well Dionne has a unique sound like nobody else. Dionne is able to under- state….almost like those hand-made boats you see inside glass ….its so special and so precious but so under-stated.
Burt Baharach Its like she can have that reserve, almost like icy reserve, which is great, Ice I don’t like but, her ice reserve , yes……that just kind of under-states, under-states, then when its time to explode, she can explode.
Otis Williams (The Temptations) Believe it or not, I used to wake up, when I got my first apartment; and I loved listening to Dionne, Don’t Make Me Over, and Send A Message To Michael and Anyone Who Had A Heart, the most angelic voice I had ever heard. And her articulation and the phrasing and i would sit up and listen……..I said ‘ Man she’s got a sweet sounding voice’
George Duke I’ve always felt that Dionne had a kind of haunting voice and the way that she executed a melody was very special. Obviously melody was important and a lot of time you hear acts do….…all the technical style of singing and there are of course a lot of jazz acts that do that, I mean Ella Fitzgerald was good with all the kind of swing stuff, but this was something different, somebody really singing a melody, that was memorable, but was not boring. The melody was everything, the chord changes beneath it and the way the melody was executed with the passion that was in there, that was something special and it taught me something as a singer and as an artist, you know because I was just starting to sing at that time. Hey it is possible to make a record that people will like, singing a melody.
Lamont Dozier (Holland, Dozier, Holland) If a song hasn’t got heart and feeling, I don’t think nobody else will feel it you know. First of all, you have to feel it yourself. When we’ve sat down to write songs, and when I’m at the piano, I could fool around for days, before I hit a chord or a certain feeling, that is just so dominating, what could I say, it had to be very deliberate in it’s force….something that gives you goose bumps, so the sound has to be there with a lot of heart and feeling, that is the recipe I think for having a hit song. It has to be something that you feel, then somebody else will pick up on the feeling.
Quincy Jones A great singer cannot make a bad song work, but a great song can make a bad singer a star! And that’s for sure! You cannot budge it if the song’s not happening, but Dionne has so been blessed that she’s always been dealing with great material and she knows how to deliver great material….they belong together.
Dionne Warwick Any team of writers, that sat in a room or across the street from each other, or somebody would come with an idea that the other one could relate to, is vitally important to a successful songwriting team…and they captured it undoubtedly. I think also, the fact that they were friends had a lot to do with it and that friendship of course developed over a period of time. They had the ability to almost read each other’s mind and there were the moments when Bacharach would write the melody before Hal would write the lyric, or Hal would write the lyric first or they wrote together. So it really necessitated understanding each other, being on the same ‘page’ at the same time and I think that was the magic of their writing
Linda Laurie (songwriter) You had magic creativity here, they are timeless, timeless songs, because they are on a 360-degree level, the greatest music, the greatest lyric and this incredible voice that brings it all along.
Burt Bacharach Dionne was really easy in the studio, she gets it, and she gets it right away. I mean the fact that we were recording live with a whole orchestra, there are so many components, and that often accounted for a number of takes. If Dionne was just recording, over-dubbing a vocal with headphones be a very simple matter, but what you try to do, or what I try to do in the studio is to get 100% out of everybody.That includes your singer, your drummer, the whole band coming together and getting as close to a 100%
Dionne Warwick That I think is also what is very special about BDW, Bacharach, David, Warwick, is that ….if Bacharach,, and he does frequently, feels that I’m going to throw in a 6 / 8 bar here, regardless of what anybody thinks, if you don’t have the ability to read music, you’re lost. I mean you’re just a sunken ship.
Burt Baharach I remember going to The Apollo, where Dionne was working and they had a house-band up there, that was playing the show. They were really angry, belligerent towards me, they were having a really tough time playing ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’ They said, ‘why did you make it so hard for us’ a 7/8 bar, then 5/4, then a 4/4 bar’. I said you know ‘ it can’t be so hard, its a hit already in the Top Ten’, I told them how to maybe approach it, instead of just reading the notes, try to just feel it…
Not every song Dionne recorded would have been her choice
Dionne Warwick Yes were are songs that I did not want to do, San Jose happens to be one of them, it was just a song that first of all I didn’t feel that woh,woh woh woh woh, was something I felt very comfortable singing you know. But it was a song that Hal David wrote, that he had a close affinity for, based on the fact that he was stationed in San Jose during his naval years and grew to love the place. But he was telling the truth about the distinctive differences between Los Angeles and San Jose. Now I have re-recorded it in a fashion that first of all I feel comfortable doing and had an incredible time recording with Celia Cruz.
Throughout the 1960’s , radio airplay was predominantly the way to promote an artist’s records. Getting exposure on Television and Radio was not always easy for a black artist at that time.
Quincy Jones You have to try to relate to this era, its not like now, where you could see on TV there’s Carl Iverson or Michael Jordan or Oprah or Sidney P or Denzel or all these Rappers making all this kind of music. We didn’t know who to identify with, we were almost the only ‘blacks’ in this place you know and you weren’t even in the books and in those books you would see Washington, maybe once a year. In a positive sense, radio helped me a lot because through my imagination, I used to imagine that ‘The Shadow’ was black, the ‘Lone Ranger’ was black and all that stuff you know. You would hear one guy doing three different voices on radio, but it made you think, because it’s only an audio experience when there’s no television.
Sidney Miller(The Voice of Black Music) It was once said if you were to kill black radio, you could kill all the black artists, because they wouldn’t have any way to get started, to be heard, then to be charted, then to be sold. Of course today you can break a record on the streets, on the internet, you can break it on ‘American Idol’…there are many, many ways that you can establish an artist, some without ever going to radio, but eventually you do have to go to radio. Shows like MTV, they didn’t exist when Dionne Warwick started.
Mary Wilson No in the very early days, even before we had our hit records, we would do the Chitlin Circuit. Now the Chitlin Circuit was called that, because basically it was low pay, it wasn’t big time. But still it was big time for the black audiences. And pretty much all the artists would work the same routing. We would do in Baltimore The Royal Theatre, in Washington The Highway Theatre, The Apollo in New York, The Uptown Theatre in Philadelphia and The Regal in Chicago. And every group I remember pulling into town working at The Royal Theatre and The Bluebells were pulling out because they had just closed at The Royal. I think we worked with Dionne on some of those particular shows, but we all did the Chitlin Circuit. We were pretty big with all the black audiences. In 64, when we became very famous, we started working with Dionne on television shows and things of that nature. Originally it was mostly on the Chitlin circuit. And I say that lovely Chitlin Circuit, because black audiences loved us. They would come and see the show, sit through five or six shows in one theatre. In between each movie, we would come on and all these shows would be, sometimes Jackie Wilson, James Brown, Dionne, the list goes on and on. And then after we went off another movie would come on. So we would do four to five shows a day.
Gladys Knight We did All The theatres that were in that circuit. The Royal Theatre in Baltimore, we did the Highway Theatre in Washington DC, we did The Chicago, all the theatres that were in the circuit. I remember the first time we went to The Apollo. We had never played at a theatre before. Would you know The Apollo was our very first theatre? That is the hardest theatre in the circuit to play. After we finished the show, we packed up our little suites and stuff. We were going downstairs and Spain, who was the doorman at the time, said ‘Where are you all going?’ He scared us anyway, you know how rough it is there. We just weren’t used to it. We just said ‘We’ve finished’. He said ‘You all better get back up them stairs!’ It was amazing. So we went back upstairs and that’s when we found out we had five shows a day. I can’t remember who it was we were on stage with at that time but they said ‘You guys are just too hot. They started calling us ‘Spoilers’, because you spoil it for the headliner. That’s a little term they use in the business when you get a little hot for your position.
Sir Tom Jones When I came to New York to do an Ed Sullivan show in 65. I knew Dionne, so she took me up to The Apollo Theatre. She picked me up at the hotel in a big cadillac. In 1965, for me to see Dionne Warwick in a big cadillac in New York was great. She picked me up and we went to The Apollo to see Chuck Jackson. He was ‘topping the bill then’. The Shirelles also came with us. It was an experience as I was the only white person in The Apollo at that time. I remember Dionne pulling the car up to the stage door and there’s all these guys hanging around the stage door. So Dionne steps out and everyone shouted ‘Oh Dionne baby, what’s going on?’ And then I step out, I had long hair then down my back, and they looked at me funny and they said ‘Who’s this?’ And she said ‘This is Tom Jones’. They said ‘Tom Jones’ When ‘It’s not unusual’ came out, they thought I was black, because they were playing it on black radio. But when they actually saw me they said ‘That’s not Tom Jones’. She said ‘It is Tom Jones. He’s come over to do the Ed Sullivan show’.So it was an experience to go into The Apollo with Dionne and actually get on stage with her and Chuck Jackson. When the people saw me they were confused. It was like somebody had tuned the pause button off. And Chuck Jackson said ‘I think you’d better sing’. So once I started singing, then it was great. That was the first experience I had in New York and Dionne was part of that because she took me there.
Otis Williams And then when we started working together at The Howard Theatre and The Apollo. She was always so classy, because she would come out in these wonderful flowing gowns. She was classy even in places like The Apollo, The Howard and DC. She was just a cut above for those kind of role models.
Mary Wilson I had mentioned earlier about singing on the Chitlin Circuit and how all those gigs were really in the black community. When we became famous, the gigs changed to the Copacabana, which was definitely all white. You can go there if your black, but the audiences tended to be mostly white audiences. And we really, I would say, lost a lot of the black audiences in the type of places we began to play when we became famous. We being Dionne, The Supremes, The Temptations, all of the acts. Where we would do the Chitlin Circuit, now we were doing do the next, the higher up gigs. I would say it was very exciting, but many of us wondered where the black audiences were. And then eventually we realized that because of the economics, you know the cost and where these places were, blacks just didn’t frequent those kind of places. And I’ve often said, many times people say ‘Blacks don’t like you guys, you kind of crossed over, you were too homogenised. I think it was just because we had stopped going to the type of places they would frequent: and we played the other venues, the ‘We Have Made It’ Venues.
Dionne was selling out shows all over the world. Her records continued to top the charts and she won two Grammy Awards in 1968 and 1970 she moved from Scepter Records to Warner and her songwriting team went with her. In 1973 it was to all change, when the shock announcement was made. The partnership of Bacharach, David and Warwick was coming to an abrupt end.
Burt Bacharach Nothing lasts for ever in this business, it never does, and it was a pretty long run.You know we went as long as we could go, then everybody split apart, it was a very unfortunate thing that happened and I take total responsibility.But it all centered around a lousy picture that I got caught in, scoring, Hal and I wrote the score for Lost Horizon, it was a disaster. And I just didn’t want to write any more. After that picture opened, I just took a year off….and of course that hurt Dionne very much.Hurt her financially, hurt her recording career, because I wasn’t ready to record her or anybody, even though Warner said ‘legally you’re going to get in trouble’. So I hold my hand up to the mistake, it was an unfortunate costly mistake
DIONNE WARWICK I was kind of “On My Own”, …but you know each phase of my career has been an amazing learning experience, that I couldn’t pay for
HAL DAVID It was ‘heartsick’ It was just like sitting on top of a mountain. And Suddenly It was very cloudy up there !
Dionne didn’t give up, instead throughout the 1970s, she maintained a hectic travel schedule performing her hits from the last deacde, to audiences around the world.She worked with many new producers at Warner Brothers and released five albums. In 1974, she had her first No 1 hit, produced by Tom Bell, performing ‘Then Came You with the Spinners, whom she also toured with.
In the late 1970s, Dionne found new ways to showcase her hits by teaming up with R&B legend Isaac Hayes on a World Tour. But whether on the road or in the studio or at home, Dionne was always with family. Her father Mancel and Mother Lee Warwick, often accompanied Dionne on tour, but on June 16, 1977, her father had a massive heart attack and died. Despite suffering a stroke soon after his death, Dionne’s mother recovered and continued to support Dionne throughout her career until she passed away on July 25, 2005.
DIONNE WARWICK I’ll tell you a cute little story about Frank Sinatra specifically. We had the same birthday, December 12th, my birthday as well. And when I introduced my mother to him, she said “do you know how lucky you are?”. And he looked at her and he just smiled and said”yeah well I guess I do”. She said “ no no, you don’t understand, you were born on the same day as my daughter”.I loved it .. He said “You are absolutely right, I am a very lucky person”. But you know, my mum, she was….in fact she still is, she’s always around me still, she took everything with a “grain of salt’, you know, these were just people; and I think that’s probably where I get it from.
Do you know I think that my children, of course feel that family is primary, because that’s the way they were brought up, as I was; and fortunately, thank God, that’s the way they are bringing their children up.The family is first.
DAMON ELLIOTT (son) I always tell my friends, I love to stare at my mum, she’s like the most beautiful person in the world to me, inside and out. Just because of the way she raised us and all of the memories I have. And being on stage, when you are on the other side of the light, when you’re the dark and you can see from behind, she would just glow.It wasn’t about the ‘bling’, or the jewelry, or the beautiful gowns, it was about the spirit.
GLADYS KNIGHT I’m as proud of them as she is, you know they used to spend the night at my house. Our kids, they grew up together, they call each other and say “Hi, I got this group”, “hey Damon can you help me out over here” And when we did our thing together, I said “Damon is the one to do this, he should produce this record”. He was in a busy schedule, but his mama called so he had to put it down.When we did our little Christmas thing together, I said he’s the one that should do it.
DAMON ELLIOTT (SON) I grew up in the studio, I was very comfortable here, more comfortable, sitting here in the studio, than I am out in the streets, or in my car or somewhere, in a library or school. I grew up in this environment, this is like my cocoon. I understood from a very young age, I used to watch and I used to ask questions, In was like the reporter…“Quincy, Uncle Q, why are you touching that fader, what does that do?” and he would say, “OK I’ll explain it to you, that turns the voice up and down and this is an EQ and EQ brightens the voice or dulls the voice, takes out certain frequencies.” He would explain, and because, my peers took time to explain it to me, when Mum wasn’t looking of course, because I really wasn’t supposed to be touching anything. I would really like to say that I helped mix ‘That’s What Friends Are For”, because I touched the fader on that: and “We Are The World”, I touched the fader on that song..and I touched the fader on “Heartbreaker”, so I’ve had three Number One records that I haven’t got credit for, because I touched the fader on those records….when Mum wasn’t looking !
In the mid 1970s, Dionne had been performing shows supported by Barry Manilow. Barry was a new signing for the Arista Record label, run by the renowned Clive Davis.
CLIVE DAVIS I saw Barry open for Dionne and I was very impressed with his performance skills with his, with his entertaining skill with his vocal arrangement; and in appraising his writing I wasn’t sure that he could write a sufficient number of pop hits for himself. So when we approached out first album together, I gave him the song which I named “Mandy”, it was called Brandy, but I’d had a record called “Brandy You’re a Fine One” by a group called Looking Glass, that went to number one so I knew we couldn’t call this record Brandy.So I gave it to Barry, and “Mandy” was the first single and it went straight to number one. So that started the practice of Barry giving me two spots on his album, two song slots on his album amidst the rest of the material that he would write. And after we had “Mandy” and “Trying To Get The Feeling Again” and “Weekend In New England” and “I Write The Songs”, I said you know, we were becoming the darlings of the professional songwriters and music publishers everywhere. So I was getting songs sent to me, that were far more plentiful than the two slots that I had on Barrys albums, so I had this song come in, and I said well who could do this song and have a hit with it, because I know it’s a great, great song, and Dionne Warwick came to mind. This great, great singer, this queen to me of urban pop, this voice that was able to just float with the great Burt Bacharach and Hal David songs, that was inimitable, it giving to the world a succession of great classic songs and she was not making records she was performing in person in cabaret, in Las Vegas in other places. But I said you know Dionne Warwick can have a major, major hit with this song.
So the two of us connected, I played for Dionne, the song, and I signed her, and I asked Barry, because this song has come to me in the tradition of songs that I was looking for, for Barry Manilow, to produce it. And that song was “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” Barry Manilow arranged and produced it, and Dionne Warwick sang it gloriously it led to grammy nominations, it led to grammy awards, And a great, great debut album on Arista by Dionne, which included Deja Vu which was another big hit from the album so we had an incredible launching, very successful and really ushered in a glorious period where we did a lot of, I think wonderful things together.
SIDNEY MILLER Dionne was Clive’s ‘Lady of the hour’ for many, many years, when she was with him; and Clive has for many years, been the ‘golden ear’ of our industry. Even as we speak, he has the number one record with Jamie Fox on the charts. Man he’s got a longer track record than anybody I know of in the business. He not only has great ears himself, but he has surrounded himself with great ears
The next producer to work on a hit for Dionne came in a chance meeting between CliveDavis andBarry Gibb of the Bee Gees.
CLIVE DAVIS I mean this was the time when the Bee Gees were bigger than ever, not only was their career at a height from Saturday Night Fever, but he had produced Guilty with Barbara Streisand, he had won Grammies, both as a writer, producer, artist and in the case of the Streisand album which went through the roof, he was at the height of his fame and success. He said, ‘you know I would love for us to work together, go through your artist rosta with me and I’m going to pick someone out’ because we had never worked together. And I did, I went through my artist rosta which was in alphabetical order from A –Z , and I saw him going down the list and turning the page.And it wasn’t until he came to W and Dionne Warwick, because I was thinking my god, there’s no-one he’s going to pick out. He said ‘Dionne Warwick, I would love to work with Dionne Warwick’ I said ‘ Really ?, that would be fantastic’ and what an incredible match that would be, I said ‘ How do we proceed?” He said ‘ well I am going to get to work tomorrow, I going to write some songs and in a week to ten days I will send you demos of songs that I think I could do with Dionne. I said ‘fantastic’, I mean I was pinching myself, too good to be true, but I didn’t want to say anything to Dionne, because the promise, you don’t know if somebody is being hospitable, we were just meeting, we had just had a wonderful day together. Within a week, I got the best demo record that to this day, I had gotten in my life for an artist. Doing the demo was Barry Gibb himself; and what was it a demo of ?…It was demo of that great song ‘ Heartbreaker’
I remember reaching Dionne who was in Las Vegas, I had a connection on my phone so when I play it they can hear it as though they were in the same room; and I said ‘you are not going to believe this” and I told her the story and I played her the demo of Heartbreaker. She said ‘Oh My God” just tell me when do I go down to Miami, because I think he recorded in those years at a studio called ‘Criteria’. I said, ‘ I don’t know I am going to get a schedule, but I cannot believe he is giving the song to us, he wrote it for you and the demo was fantastic and its going to be great. I will never forget when I called him and I said ‘Dionne loves the song, I love the song, we are ready, you tell me when can she come down to Miami?” And he to his credit, on top of the world, said ‘No No Clive, you tell me where Dionne is, I’m a man she’s a woman, I’m the producer, she’s the artist. I will go where Dionne is”…And they made this record ‘Heartbreaker”.
I found Dionne professional at all times.Maybe it was weighted on the side of her maturity, because you never know what its like from the beginning, but when an artist has had success and then goes through a period of not having the same success, reinforces the recognition, the realisation that this ain’t so easy, this is tough, to keep going. I think that her, both gratitude and recognition that she was once again back on top; and we were doing it, I never love this way again, Deja Vu and Heartbreaker, so clearly that track record and that opportunity to be on top of her profession once again was very special.So we’ve a joyous mutual respect, I’ve always respected her dignity, her intelligence and her perspective, so she was very co-operative, very grateful and we really had a terrific collaboration record together.
Another collaboration came about for Dionne when she recorded a duet ‘How Many Times” with one of her long-time friends, Luther Vandross.
DIONNE WARWICK Another one of my babies, I absolutely adored him and the fortunate thing with Luther, as with most of the songwriters and performers that I have grown a great deal of affection for, his legacy will continue to live on, so he will always be alive as far as I am concerned. Luther was very very special to me, very special, as is Stevie. They came into my life at a point where they were both at the beginning of their careers. I had the joy of watching it grow and also being around them whilst it was growing. Hopefully they were garnering some information from me that they apparently used during their growing years.So I feel they’re much as part of my family life, not to negate friendship, but I feel more comfortable in calling them ‘family’.
I’ve known Stevie since he was 13 years old and he has been a part of my life since that day. The word that has been used very loosely in many categories, for many people..’Genius’ …is the one word that is completely apropos for Stevie Wonder !…I don’t think it has been used enough for him, there is only one, there will always only be one, there’ll never be another….and that’s another legacy of music, that will live long after we’re all gone.
In 1985 Dionne had the chance to work in the studio once again, with Burt Bacharach, recording the hit charity single That’s What Friends Are For.
CLIVE DAVIS That whole project is a lifetime memory and when the record was completed and the video done, it just sent chills up and down everybody’s spine.When Carol and Burt had sent me this song and we were talking about it as to whom, could be, with Dionne, on this record.
DIONNE WARWICK They knew as most people that know me know, that friendships are vital to me. I said ‘I would like to invite some friends to do this with me’ and they said ‘well who do you want ?’ ..I said” well let me call a few people and see if they are available”.. The first person I called was Gladys
GLADYS KNIGHT So she called me on the phone that morning and she said “Look I’m doing this project and I’m sending the song over and nobody’s on it yet but Stevie, but I want you to do it”..I said “When”…She said “tomorrow Evening !”…I said ‘ Girl ! you know I’ve got a broken toe”…She said “ I’ll come and get you”
DIONNE WARWICK And the I called Stevie, who happened to have been in New Jersey at the time and we were recording in Los Angeles. And i asked him when he was coming home and would he be a part of the recording with me. He said,”yes I will be home tomorrow, which was when we were doing the song. I ran into Elton, in the Grocery store, he was shopping for Hors D’euvres and things, he was throwing a birthday party for his, then, manager. …And I asked what he was doing the next night..He said ‘Well I’m preparing for this birthday party, why what do you want me to do.?”..I said “I would like for you to be a part of my recording…And he said “Of Course!”
GLADYS KNIGHT And we started fooling around with Elton, we got on the piano and we just started having fun…..and no Stevie!…Do you know we waited for Stevie until 4am.! In the morning.That video was done about 4.30, 5 o’clock in the morning, we had been there all day and all night !..But we had fun, we ate and we laughed, we cried and we talked…Elton went to a party and came back later…..!!..We just had a good time, we had a great time.
CLIVE DAVIS That’s What friends Are For, certainly has become a classic, not only a classic in pop music, but what it stands for. Proceeds from That’s What Friends are For, served to subsidise the American Foundation for Aids Research, 85% of the first two years of it’s existence.Very meaningful, very true of Dionne’s history in trying to raise money for charities and being charitable conscious…and still another great song.
The experience led Dionne to travel the world, raising money to help combat the deadly disease.
Dionne was appointed by the Reagan administration,Ambassador for Health for the United Statesand as a humanitarian, she continues to work tirelessly with organisations around the world, dedicated to helping and inspiring others.
DAPHNE ZIMAN (Philanthropist) I think in life you have this instinctive feeling, about people who are members of your family, who are on the same page in terms of the recognition that we can’t allow things to continue the way it is. You just can’t allow things to continue into destruction. And I think that when you recognise people that are you know in the same family, with the same thoughts, you create a family. You know that you can all upon them, because you know that their mission in life is the kind of mission that is about continuing to change what is happening for the better; and you know that they will step up to the plate, and it’s not about celebrity and it’s not about whatever you know. It’s about really making a difference, and when you recognise that you have a friend or a family member like that, you always can count on them. You may not see them for a year, but you can pick up the phone and you can say, you know this really needs to be handled and you know that they will come. And Dionne is that.
In 2002 Dionne was named FAO Ambassador to the United Nations. She now divides her time between the United States and Brazil which she has made her second home. As an artist and musical icon, her status is legendary. With her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the accolades that this unique singer has achieved, both for her contribution to music and also for her unrelenting dedication to empowering and inspiring others, are numerous. She continues to tour, with her family and friends never far behind, performing her magical and timeless hit songs to sell-out audiences around the world.
DIONNE WARWICK I kind of attribute staying in this industry, simply to I’m doing what I love doing, you know and that in itself, to be able to do what you love doing and get paid for it, and be exposed to different cultures and parts of the world, have the ability to expose your children to it, and in my case now, my grand children, is the biggest blessing that god could ever give me. And for as long as I feel comfortable, continuing to do this, and I know I will never the lose the passion or love for it, but the ability to do it at the bar that I set for myself, that’s how much longer I’ll be here.
|Running Time||95 minutes|
|Screen Ratio||16 x 9|
|Year of Production||2009|