Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston, And Burt Bacharach Stun With Their Show-Stopping Finale To The Arista 15th Anniversary Concert

Did you know Dionne Warwick and Whitney Houston were first cousins? “Who is Dionne Warwick?” younger Music Man readers might ask. Well, Whitney Houston is fourth on the Billboard list of the all-time greatest Hot 100 Women Artists; Dionne Warwick is 24th. Warwick is also the female artist with the eighth most entries on the Billboard Hot 100. The majority of Warwick’s hits came from her remarkable collaboration with the great Hal David and Burt Bacharach song-writing and production partnership.

The finale of the 15 years of Arista Records showcase concert (1990) is a wonderful opportunity to see Warwick, Houston, and Bacharach perform together. Halfway through their show-stopping take of “That’s What Friends Are For,” they’re joined on stage by the evening’s performers and hosts, so it’s a real feel-good performance. Warwick and Houston’s voices – smoke and honey – are sublime, but do pay attention to Bacharach on the piano. Note how he physically responds to Warwick’s singing. Enjoy:

In-with-the-new comments, “Music and awards shows don’t come together like this anymore! I’m glad I grew up in this era.” Dion_Mustard writes, “That hug Whitney gives her cousin Dionne is adorable. It was genuine, affectionate respect and love – and my god the vocals! Wow.” McD comments, “Love this. So much talent on show. The great Burt Bacharach playing piano as well. May he and Whitney rest in eternal peace.”

The Hal David, Burt Bacharach, and Dionne Warwick collaboration lasted from 1962 to 1972. While numerous artists had hits with songs by lyricist David and composer Bacharach during this period, Warwick was their favored singer. David and Bacharach arranged and produced all but one of Warwick’s recordings of their songs. In Bacharach’s words, Warwick’s “young, earthy, edgy and confident” voice was perfect for the songwriting partners’ sophisticated pop songs. This is Walk on By from 1964.

Dionne Warwick’s recorded over 100 David/Bacharach songs. Of these, the dozen-odd Top 10 hits include Do You Know the Way to San Jose?, Anyone Who Had a Heart, Alfie, Walk on By, and I Say a Little Prayer. Other artists who had hits with David/Bacharach songs include Dusty Springfield (I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself; Wishin’ And Hopin’), Gene Pitney (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa), the Walker Brothers (Make It Easy on Yourself), Bobby Vinton (Blue on You), Jackie DeShannon (What the World Needs Now Is Love), Tom Jones (What’s New Pussycat?), B. J. Thomas (Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head), Christopher Cross (Arthur’s Theme – Best That You Can Do), Cilla Black (Alfie), and The Carpenters (They all Want to be Close To You).

Bacharach and David split up over disagreements relating to their soundtrack for the unsuccessful film Lost Horizon (1972). Left in the lurch by her songwriting and production team while contracted to Warners, Dionne Warwick sued Bacharach and David, who sued each other. The recording of That’s What Friends Are For in 1985 by Dionne Warwick and Friends (Gladys Knight, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder) was the first time Bacharach and Warwick collaborated after they fell apart. Written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, the record spent four weeks as the Billboard #1. It was an AIDS fundraiser, as was The Arista 15th Anniversary Concert and TV Special, 1990 (billed as That’s What Friends Are For) that supplied our first video.

Whitney Houston died on 11 February 2012 (48 years), Hal David died on 1 September 2012 (91 years), Burt Bacharach passed away on 8 February 2023 (94 years). Dionne Warwick played several concerts in the UK in May 2024 and played at the Love Supreme Festival in July 2024.

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