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Dionne & Friends - That's What Friends Are For (1985)

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  • 80's Score80's Score 80's score: 2.19
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

"That's What Friends Are For" is a song written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. It was first recorded in 1982 by ...

"That's What Friends Are For" is a song written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. It was first recorded in 1982 by Rod Stewart for the soundtrack of the film Night Shift, but it is better known for the 1985 cover version by Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder.

A one-off collaboration headed by Dionne Warwick and featuring Gladys Knight, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder was released as a charity single in the United Kingdom and the United States in 1985.  It was recorded as a benefit for American Foundation for AIDS Research, and raised over US$3 million for that cause. Warwick, who had previously raised money for blood-related diseases such as sickle-cell anemia, wanted to help combat the then-growing AIDS epidemic because she had seen friends die painfully of the disease.

Elton John played piano and Stevie Wonder played harmonica; the two had previously worked together on 1983's "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues".

In the United States, the song held the number-one spot of the adult contemporary chart for two weeks, the number-one spot of the soul chart for three weeks, and the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks, all in January - February 1986, and became Billboard's number one single of 1986. It was certified Gold on January 15, 1986 by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It was the final US number one for all but John (John would have two more US number-ones during the 1990s). Due to Stevie Wonder's involvement, it also holds the distinction of being the last number-one song for anyone who had topped the charts before the British Invasion (Stevie Wonder's first number 1 hit, "Fingertips", came in 1963).

Outside the United States, the song topped the charts in Canada and Australia and reached the top 10 in Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, and Sweden. On the UK Singles Chart, the song debuted at number 49 and climbed to its peak of number 16 three weeks later, staying at that position for another week before descending the chart. It remained in the UK top 100 for a further five weeks, totaling 10 weeks on the chart altogether.

The Dionne and Friends version of the song won the performers the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, as well as Song of the Year for its writers, Bacharach and Bayer Sager. This rendition is also listed at number 75 on Billboard's Greatest Songs of all time.

Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder performed the song live together for the first time in 23 years at the 25th Anniversary AmfAR Gala in New York City on February 10, 2011.

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