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That's What Friends Are For

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"That's What Friends Are For"
Song by Rod Stewart
from the album Night Shift soundtrack
Released 1982
Genre Pop
Length 3:54
Label Warner Bros.
Night Shift soundtrack track listing
"The Love Too Good to Last"
"That's What Friends Are For"
"Someday, Someway"

"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. This recording, billed as being by "Dionne & Friends", was released as a charity single for AIDS research and prevention. It was a massive hit, becoming the number 1 single of 1986 in the United States, and winning the Grammy Awards for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Song of the Year. Its sales raised over US$3 million for its cause.


Dionne Warwick cover

"That's What Friends Are For"
Dionne and Friends That's What Friends Are For.jpg
Single by Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder
(as "Dionne & Friends")
from the album Friends
B-side "Two Ships Passing in the Night"
Released November 1985
Length 4:14
Label Arista
  • Burt Bacharach
  • Carole Bayer Sager
Dionne Warwick singles chronology
"Run to Me"
"That's What Friends Are For"
"Whisper in the Dark"
"Run to Me"
"That's What Friends Are For"
"Whisper in the Dark"
Elton John singles chronology
"Wrap Her Up"
(1985) Wrap Her Up1985
"That's What Friends Are For"
(1985) That's What Friends Are For1985
"Cry to Heaven"
(1986) Cry to Heaven1986
Gladys Knight singles chronology
"Till I See You Again"
(1985) Till I See You Again1985
"That's What Friends Are For"
(1985) That's What Friends Are For1985
"Send It to Me"
(1986) Send It to Me1986
Stevie Wonder singles chronology
"Part-Time Lover"
(1985) Part-Time Lover1985
"That's What Friends Are For"
(1985) That's What Friends Are For1985
"Go Home"
(1985) Go Home1985

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. The song was written in the key of E.[citation needed] 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.[1]

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".

 Clockwise from left, Gladys Knight, Carole Bayer-Sager, Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John, "That's What Friends Are For", 1985
Clockwise from left, Gladys Knight, Carole Bayer-Sager, Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John, "That's What Friends Are For", 1985

The song peaked at number one for three weeks on the soul chart and for four weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1986,[2] and became Billboard's number one single of 1986.[3][4] In the U.S., it was certified Gold on January 15, 1986 by the RIAA. It was the final US number one for all but John. 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).

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.[5]

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.[6]


1990 benefit concert

On March 17, 1990 an AIDS benefit titled That's What Friends Are For: Arista Records 15th Anniversary Concert was held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. One month later, CBS aired a two-hour version of the concert on television. The celebrity guests and Arista label performers were: Air Supply, Lauren Bacall, Burt Bacharach, Eric Carmen, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Clive Davis, Taylor Dayne, Michael Douglas, Exposé, Whoopi Goldberg, Melanie Griffith, Hall & Oates, Jennifer Holliday, Whitney Houston, Alan Jackson, Kenny G, Melissa Manchester, Barry Manilow, Milli Vanilli, Jeffrey Osborne, Carly Simon, Patti Smith, Lisa Stansfield, The Four Tops, and Dionne Warwick. "That's What Friends Are For" was the finale song sung by Warwick and cousin Houston before being joined on the stage by the other guests of the event. Over $2.5 million was raised that night for the Arista Foundation which gave the proceeds to various AIDS organizations.

Other versions


  1. ^ "That's What Friends Are For". Washington Post. 1988. So working against AIDS, especially after years of raising money for work on many blood-related diseases such as sickle-cell anemia, seemed the right thing to do. 'You have to be granite not to want to help people with AIDS, because the devastation that it causes is so painful to see. I was so hurt to see my friend die with such agony,' Warwick remembers. 'I am tired of hurting and it does hurt.' 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 610. 
  3. ^ Hot 100 1986[dead link] Billboard
  4. ^ Billboard, December 27, 1986
  5. ^ Greatest of All-Time - Hot 100 Songs
  6. ^ Heyman, Marshall (February 11, 2011). "Superstar 'Friends' Reunite". The Wall Street Journal. 

External links

Preceded by
"Say You, Say Me" by Lionel Richie
Billboard Adult Contemporary number-one single
January 11, 1986 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Go Home" by Stevie Wonder
Preceded by
"Say You, Say Me" by Lionel Richie
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
January 18, 1986 – February 8, 1986
Succeeded by
"How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston
Preceded by
"Say You, Say Me" by Lionel Richie
Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs number one single
January 25 – February 8, 1986
Succeeded by
"Do Me, Baby" by Meli'sa Morgan
Preceded by
"A Good Heart" by Feargal Sharkey
Australian ARIA Singles Chart number-one single
March 3, 1986
Succeeded by
"When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" by Billy Ocean
This page was last edited on 9 April 2018, at 08:44.
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