Marie Dionne Warwick was born in East Orange, New Jersey in December 1941 (she is Whitney Houston’s cousin) and after going to music school and working as a session singer, was given the song Don’t Make Me Over by Burt Bacharach and Hal David in 1962.
The song was a US hit which Warwick then followed with many other Bacharach/David compositions.
She cracked the Top 10 in 1964 with Anyone Who Had A Heart and Walk On By and continued her run with such classics as I Say A Little Prayer and Do You Know The Way To San Jose?
After consulting astrologist Linda Goodman, she added an “e” to the end of her surname in 1971, believing it would bring her luck.
Initially, it worked – following an eight-year run of hits for Scepter, she joined Warners in a deal rumoured to be worth three million dollars. Then her luck ran out and the hits dried up.
Her first Warners LP, 1972s Dionne, though helmed again by Bacharach and David (who shortly afterwards parted company) bombed big time.
Warwick’s divorce from Bacharach-David was followed in 1975 by a real divorce from her husband of twelve years, actor Bill Elliot. In 1975 she got rid of the additional “e”.
Warwick was just beginning to recover from her wrecked marriage when her father died unexpectedly in 1977. The following day her mother suffered an incapacitating stroke (she later recovered almost totally).
The family tragedy coincided with the nadir of Warwick’s recording career. Having put out five Warner’s albums, she left the label.
Finally, she began discussions with Arista president Clive Davis, who signed her and teamed her up – very successfully – with Barry Manilow for her next album.