Billboard #1s for the Week Ending November 9, 1985

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 Miami Vice Theme Jan Hammer 1
R & B Part-Time Lover Stevie Wonder 4
Country Can’t Keep A Good Man Down Alabama 1
Adult Contemporary Part-Time Lover Stevie Wonder 3
Rock Sleeping Bag ZZ Top 1
Album Miami Vice Soundtrack / Jan Hammer 2

DionneFriendsThis week sees a superstar performance enter the Hot 100, destined to be its lead vocalist’s biggest hit. Throughout the 60s, Dionne Warwick was a major star on the Pop and R&B charts, achieving most of her success with songs written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. The three were so musically linked that Warwick recorded at least a demo of almost everything the pair wrote, even for songs that were hits for other performers. Warwick and Bacharach had a falling out in the earl 70s and did not work together again for over a decade.

Enter That’s What Friends Are For, originally written by Bacharach and wife Carol Bayer Sager as a Rod Stewart track on the Night Shift soundtrack. Warwick decided to record a charity single to raise money for the American Foundation for AIDS Research, and thought the song would be perfect. She brought together some famous collaborators and recorded the single as Dionne & Friends. Those friends brought real star power to the project, with vocals from Gladys Knight, Elton John on piano, and harmonica by Stevie Wonder. Their effort debuted at #67 this week, bound for a four-week stay at #1 in early 1986. It also spent three weeks atop the R&B chart and two as the Adult Contemporary champ. It was the #1 Billboard Hot 100 song of 1986 and won two Grammys, best Pop Performance and Song of the Year.

That makes it Warwick’s biggest hit and an impressive performance in the careers of the others involved. That’s saying something, since their total Hot 100 #1 performance to that point included 17 songs for 39 weeks at the top. (Toss in Bacharach and Bayer Sager and the numbers go up to 23 and 58!) It proved to be the last Hot 100 #1 for all but Elton John. He managed two more, both of which also raised money for charity: a remake of Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me with George Michael in 1991 and his rewrite of Candle In the Wind for the late Princess Diana in 1997.

Bacharach managed one more chart-topper as well, penning On My Own with Bayer Sager, a #1 Pop and R&B duet for Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald two months after Friends. Later in 1986, Bayer Sager managed one more with Groovy Kind of Love, a Phil Collins remake of her #2 hit (written with Toni Wine) for the Mindbenders 20 years prior.

All four performers were big cross-over stars as well. All told, the quartet  notched 28 Adult Contemporary #1s for a total of 78 weeks and 35 R&B #1s for an impressive 107 weeks. (In fact, Wonder was sitting on top of BOTH those charts as Friends entered the Hot 100.)

The single was a chart and charitable success. Sadly, Warwick came under fire for follow-up activities. Her “That’s What Friends Are For” ball to raise AIDS research money ran up huge costs and only contributed $56,000 out of over $2,100,000 raised, casting a cloud over her reputation and the good work of the recording project.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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