The night before Dionne Warwick was set to record That’s What Friends Are For, she ran into Elton while grocery shopping in Beverly Hills.
“I said, ‘I’m recording tomorrow and I need you.’ That’s how simple it was,” the 78-year tells People of how she recruited the keyboardist at the last minute, back in the 1980s.
John showed up, along with Warwick’s friends, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder, to record the song, which would reach number one on the Billboard charts, and earn Warwick her fifth Grammy award.
The entertainer says the idea to donate proceeds from the tune to the American Foundation for AIDS Research, came from Elizabeth Taylor, who attended the recording session. She was a friend of the song’s composers, Burt Bacharach and his then-wife, Carole Bayer Sager.
“Elizabeth felt the song could be an anthem to help get the point across about the need for help, and also to help get amFAR up and running,” Dionne recalls.
The song became an anthem of sorts for AIDS awareness and compassion, and eventually raised an estimated $3 million for amFAR.