That's What Friends Are For

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"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.
Writer Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager
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 far better known for the 1985 cover version by Dionne Warwick and Friends.

Dionne Warwick cover[edit]

"That's What Friends Are For"
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 1985
Format 7", 12"
Genre Soul, pop, soft rock, adult contemporary
Length 4:14
Label Arista
Writer(s) Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager
Producer(s) Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager
Dionne Warwick singles chronology
"Run to Me"
"That's What Friends Are For"
"Whisper in the Dark"
Elton John singles chronology
"Wrap Her Up"
"That's What Friends Are For"
"Cry to Heaven"
Gladys Knight singles chronology
"Till I See You Again"
"That's What Friends Are For"
"Send It to Me"
Stevie Wonder singles chronology
"Part-Time Lover"
"That's What Friends Are For"
"Go Home"

A one-off collaboration headed by Dionne Warwick and featuring Gladys Knight, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder, the latter three of whom had previously reached the Hot 100's top 40 with his/her own song about part-time loving,[1] 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. The tune peaked at number one for three weeks on the soul chart and for four weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1986[2] - becoming the final US number one for all but John - and became Billboard's number one single of 1986. In the U.S., it was certified Gold on January 15, 1986 by the RIAA. Elton John played piano and Stevie Wonder played harmonica; the two previously worked together for 1983's I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues. In 1988, the Washington Post wrote, "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.'"

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 Dionne and Friends version of the song won the performers the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, as well as Song of the Year for its writers, Bacharach and Bayer Sager. It also was ranked by Billboard magazine as the most popular song of 1986.[3][4]

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 on February 10, 2011.[5]

Dionne and Friends' version also listed at #61 on Billboard's Greatest Songs of all time.[1]

1990 benefit concert[edit]

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[edit]

  • Other recordings are by Shirley Bassey (1991), Cilla Black & Cliff Richard (a duet for Cilla Black's Through The Years album in 1993) and Helen Reddy (for The Burt Bacharach Album: Broadway Sings the Best of Burt Bacharach in 1998).
  • In the United Kingdom on December 16, 2006, the major television network ITV aired the final of that year's series of The X-Factor, where all hopeful contestants who made it to the aired episodes performed this song live to an audience of several million.
  • Singer Mijares covered it in his 2009 Spanish album Vivir Así under the title of "Para ti yo estoy", a trio with Daniela Romo & Pandora.
  • "The Friends Project" recorded a version that was arranged and produced by Australian singer Nathan Leigh Jones and directed by Michael Akers. Those taking part were singer-songwriter and piano player David Raleigh, Tony Award winning and Emmy-nominated Alan Cumming, Broadway actor, producer and singer Billy Porter and indie pop star Ari Gold. Revenues went to Ali Forney Center, a NYC shelter for homeless gay and lesbian youth.
  • In Shrek the Third, Merlin the Wizard plays this song while Arthur and Shrek are having a talk.
  • A cover was done by the ska Punk band The Arrogant Sons of Bitches for their album Built to Fail.


  1. ^ Paul Grein (1986-04-26). Billboard Chart Beat. Billboard Publications. p. 6. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 610. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Billboard, December 27, 1986
  5. ^ Heyman, Marshall (February 11, 2011). "Superstar 'Friends' Reunite". The Wall Street Journal. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Say You, Say Me" by Lionel Richie
Billboard Adult Contemporary (chart) 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