Bacharach, David and Warwick – three strikes against the Rock Hall


Dionne Warwick

By Phill Marder

Of all those ignored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thus far, DIONNE WARWICK may be the most puzzling of all. If it’s because she is considered easy listening and not Rock, the induction of Abba should cure that problem. But it’s a misconception, anyway, for under the guidance of Burt Bacharach (more on him later), Warwick was responsible for some of the most memorable rhythm & blues recordings of the early ’60s. As a result, she became one of the most successful female recording artists of the Rock age, both in singles and albums.

From her start as a background singer for the Drifters and demo provider for the Shirelles, Warwick steadily provided a string of hits. Yes, some bordered on the easy listening side, but many were almost heavy, starting with her first hit “Don’t Make Me Over” followed by “This Empty Place,” also done by the Searchers, “Make The Music Play,” also done by the Drifters, “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” “Walk On By,” “Reach Out For Me,” a cover of Lou Johnson’s version, “You Can Have Him,” a cover of Roy Hamilton’s big smash, “Message to Michael,” also recorded by Johnson in addition to Jerry Butler as “Message To Martha,” “Are You There (with Another Girl),” covered by the Buckinghams, “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself,” covering Tommy Hunt’s version, “(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me,” done by too many artists to name, and a cover of Butler’s “Make It Easy On Yourself.”

In the ’70s, she combined with the Spinners to hit No. 1 with “Then Came You.” In the 80s she paired with the Bee Gees for the top 10 “Heartbreaker” and with Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder in the No. 1 “That’s What Friends Are For,” hosted the TV show “Solid Gold” and made a prominent appearance on the “We Are The World” single. Also, some of her album cuts such as “Wishin’ & Hopin’,” copied almost note for note by Dusty Springfield, and “Close To You,” done by the Carpenters, provided the groundwork for other artists to have hits.

She’s won Grammy Awards, appeared in film and participated in countless charity events. This could go on and on. The bottom line is that her accomplishments have eclipsed almost every female singer and most male singers of the Rock age, many of whom already have been inducted. In one year, Warwick, recording for the tiny Scepter label, had more records in the top 10 of the Hot 100, the chart that measures all music, than inductees Ruth Brown and LaVern Baker did combined in their entire careers. While Brown and Baker put many singles on the R&B charts, check Warwick’s record. She held her own with both on the R&B singles chart and crushed both on the R&B album charts. Springfield, also already inducted, was one of Rock’s great female voices, but, again, her accomplishments pale compared with those of Warwick. Of course, Springfield, Brown and Baker recorded for Atlantic Records and the co-founder of Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegun, was chairman of the Hall of Fame. That might explain Warwick’s exclusion.

Suffice it to say, if Warwick had recorded for Atlantic she would have in the Hall of Fame years ago.

Then again, last year Wanda Jackson, who recorded for Capitol, was inducted while Warwick still waits. I’d love to hear the explanation for that.

BURT BACHARACH & HAL DAVID – Almost every great songwriting pair of the Rock & Roll era has been inducted. But not the greatest of all?

This duo not only wrote more hit songs than any combo in history, Bacharach, with his incredible productions and arrangements, changed the face of Rock & Roll. Suddenly, Rock could be classy as well as crude, brilliant music as well as primal energy.

If this pair has been snubbed because they weren’t rock enough, consider this partial list of artists who have recorded their works. Those in bold already have been inducted into the Hall of Fame:

The Beatles; The Shirelles; The Beachboys; BJ Thomas; The Buckinghams; The Carpenters; The Drifters; Gene Pitney; Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass; Jerry Butler; Manfred Mann; Marty Robbins; Chuck Jackson; The Searchers; Ray Charles; Tom Jones; The Walker Brothers: Gene McDaniels; Charlie Gracie; Frankie Avalon; The Turbans; Tommy Hunt; The Isley Brothers; Cliff Richard; Bobby Vee; Timi Yuro; Steve Alaimo; Jay & the Americans; Ray Peterson; Linda Scott; Bobby Vinton; Adam Wade; Paul Anka; Brook Benton; Maxine Brown; Jackie DeShannon; Freddie & the Dreamers; Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas; Irma Thomas; Cilla Black; Trini Lopez; Rick Nelson; Dusty Springfield; Lenny Welch; The Fifth Dimension; Mark Lindsay; Susanna Hoffs; and, of course, Dionne Warwick, who became one of the era’s biggest-selling artists primarily by recording Bacharach-David compositions.

In addition, Bacharach compositions written with other lyricists have been recorded by Elvis, Stephen Bishop, Gene Vincent, Etta James, Gloria Lynne, Del Shannon, Marv Johnson, Tammi Terrell, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The Pointer Sisters, Christopher Cross, Nicolette Larson, Aretha Franklin, Neil Diamond, Roberta Flack, Quarterflash, Rod Stewart, Peabo Bryson, Melissa Manchester, Patti LaBelle & Michael McDonald, Kenny Rogers, Natalie Cole, Ray Parker Jr., Chris DeBurgh, Desmond Child, James Ingram, The Stylistics, Earth, Wind & Fire, Chicago and Johnny Mathis to name just a very few. Then throw in recent collaborations between Bacharach and Ronnie Isley and Bacharach and Elvis Costello and you’ve got an impeccable resume.

Every pair of composers currently in the Hall of Fame deserves to be there. But the first songwriting duo inducted should have been Burt Bacharach & Hal David. No pair has written more timeless classics. As Debbie Harry once commented, “If you can really get it together in three minutes…that’s what pop songs are all about.” And that’s what Bacharach & David were all about.

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10 thoughts on “Bacharach, David and Warwick – three strikes against the Rock Hall

  1. Dionne Warwick is one of the most underrated and overlooked singers of all time. A lot of singers, less successful and whose careers have been not that long, have received awards and accolades one after another, but not her. She is a great performer, and she must be inducted soon.
    I would say it is the same the same fate for Barbra Streisand, who has been considered too easy listening, but has recorded a lot of (soft and not so soft) rocks songs, jazz, even disco, specially during the 70s and 80s. She also had sung Bacharach’s. Dionne, Bacharach, Hall, Streisand. All of them are famous (and excellent) enough to be place among the greatest in the Hall of Fame. they should have been not strikes out, but homeruns!

  2. This article tells it all…..The Great Burt Bachach, Hal David, and Dionne Warwick’s records featuring Bacharach and David’s brilliant compositions were indeed on the charts…take it from someone who grew up with their music and constantly heard it on the radio…
    Why the Hall of Fame doesnt get it is beyond me….perhaps its kind of like the Acedemy Awards panel…they have botched many awards by
    giving out oscars to 2nd rate actors and productions, while ignoring
    important perfomances and actors over the years…
    I praise Goldmine magazine for this article, and hope that the Hall of Fame takes a serious look at the fabulous trinity of these 3 magnificent hitmakers, and corrects their error by inducting them very soon.They were very much part of the “rock and roll” era.

  3. It’s a scandal isn’t it? It should be looked into immediately. Dionne Warwick has stood the test of time and is probably the best interpreter of for the last 50 years .. America should be proud and value her contribution to it’s culture far more than it does. And of course Burt Bacharach and Hal David without question should be there alongside her.

  4. It’s quite intriguing topic you’ve written here..The truth I’m not related to this, but I feel is really a very good opportunity to learn far more about, And as nicely speak about a different subject to which I used to talk with other people

  5. Have any of you ever noticed the similarities between Dionne Warwick’s 1964 hit, “Walk On By” and Chicago’s 1988 hit, “Look Away”? Walk On By was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Look Away was written by Diane Warren.

    Walk On By

    If you see me walking down the street
    And I start to cry each time we meet
    Walk on by, walk on by
    Make believe that you don’t see the tears
    Just let me grieve in private
    Cause each time I see you
    I break down and cry
    Walk on by, walk on by

    Look Away

    If you see me walking by
    And the tears are in my eyes
    Look away, baby look away
    If we meet on the street someday
    and I don’t know what to say
    Look away, baby look away
    Don’t look at me
    I don’t want you to see me this way

  6. This is very hard to believe that Dionne Warwick is not in the rock and roll hall of fame as well as Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Dionne Warwick was one of the greatest female voices of all time and topped the charts over and over. Burt and Hal were two of the greatest songwriters of the rock era and several of their songs were sung by Dionne Warwick. As a matter of fact, it seems like all of the greatest hits of Dionne Warwick were written by them. There is no validity to the rock and roll hall of fame considering who have been left out by them including the Spinners and especially Dionne Warwick.

  7. Bacharach and David sued each other and Warwick sued them both. The cases were settled out of court in 1979 and the three went their separate ways. They reconciled in 1992 for Warwick’s recording of Sunny Weather Lover.

  8. Dionne is not alone. The great Connie Francis has been shhamfully ignored and she was the first female rock megastar. Something is wrong here with the hall.
    Connie Francis also has been featured in this series of artists unjustly ignored by the R&R Hall of Fame. However, both Dionne Warwick & Connie Francis have been inducted into the Goldmine Hall of Fame.

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