It is with deep personal sadness that I was informed this evening (October 19) that Dee Dee Warwick, one of the most soulful singers I ever had the privilege to know and the very first artist I ever interviewed when I was a young school boy in London, has passed away at the age of 63.
A 1999 R&B Foundation Pioneer Awardee, Dee Dee's legacy of recordings - albums for Mercury, Atco and Sutra and a number of singles - remains a virtual catalog of some of the best real soul music ever recorded included her Grammy-nominated "Foolish Fool" and "She Didn't Know (She Kept On Talking)."
According to the official press release, her older sister Dionne was with Dee Dee when she passed away after several months of illness at a New Jersey nursing home. In comments for her fan club website, Dionne said, "This morning [Saturday, October 18] at 10:00am my beloved sister Dee Dee made her transition..............she went peacefully of which I am grateful. Again I must say thank you to all that held her in prayer..............knowing that God has given her a merciful release from the pain she suffered with for so very long has been my comfort. All that is left to say is that God has another incredible voice to add to His angelic choir. God Bless You All for Caring."
Services will be private and the family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to The Rheumatoid Arthritis Foundation.
I am preparing a special personal tribute to Dee Dee with music within the next few weeks. I send my personal condolences and love to Dionne and her family. I've always treasured knowing Dee Dee and truly loving her music.
Rest peacefully, Dee Dee, your spirit and music live on.
David Nathan, Soul Music.com
We invite those of you who would like to send comments, thoughts and reflections on Dee Dee and her music to firstname.lastname@example.org
"I enjoyed working with Dee Dee Warwick and she had a very sensitive voice but very powerful and beautiful personality." Kenny Gamble
"Dee Dee was a fun person. I first met her while working at Queen Booking Corp. with Ruth Bowen. Then I moved to Atlantic Records and fortunately Dee Dee was signed to Atco Records.. The Girl had a Fabulous Voice, and I was just sorry we did not hear more from her through the years. She will never be forgotten." Barbara J. Harris
"“We have lost one of the rocks upon which real music stands. In her precious anonymity she still made a great impact. I am happy to know that she knew how much I loved her.” Chaka Khan
"My heartfelt condolences go out to the entire Warwick family. May her soul rest in peace and legend live on forever." Sandra Robinson
"Just yesterday, I was listening to "Let Me Be Yours Until Tomorrow." What a great singer. Ever hear her do "I Haven't Got Anything Better To Do," or "That's Not Love"? As a session background singer and contractor, and as a songstress in her own right, Dee Dee never got the public recognition her sister Dionne, aunt Cissy, or cousin Whitney got, but those in the industry (back in the day) and true fans of 60s soul know that she was the real deal. Much love and sympathy to the family." Dundee
"DEE DEE WARWICK was one of the greatest soul singers around!
She was very underrated in the music field by the people who were really ignorant of her many accomplishments. Most times during the 1960's and 1970's from which she was most prevalent, record producers didn't know what to do with female soul singers like Dee Dee. If a female had too much of a 'soul feeling' in her music, she was usually 'done away with'. (Aretha Franklin was probably an exception.)
Dee Dee Warwick has a treasure of music to behold! From her early days as a member of The Drinkard Singers and The Gospelaires to this year singing on her sister's new cd.
I had the distinct pleasure of communicating with her in April 2002 while she was recuperating in a nearby hospital. She personally signed my cd and made precious comments." Dee Jay J.J. - The Professional Music Entertainer, East Orange, New Jersey
"I'm so sorry to hear of DeeDee's passing. I'm just comforted to know she's no longer in any pain and that like Dionne said, the choir in heaven just is gonna sound a whole lot sweeter with her among them." Mark Lee
"I am so saddened by this news. Such a gracious lady with such a rich soulful voice. Having most of her recordings (if not all), she proved she was her own woman in each performance. Though I love Dionne's version, I consider Dee Dee's version of "Alfie" the definitive recorded version of this Bacharach-David gem. I will remember a remarkable summers day in 1980, when a friend of mine and I spent the day in Atlantic City seeing Dee Dee perform several shows at Caesar's. We spent some time between sets with her, as well as after her performances concluded for the day. I got to see her one last time in early 1981 when she performed with Dionne in Beaumont, TX. She was very sweet to me. I'm so glad she recorded with Dionne one more time and reminds us all of "Why We Sing". My heart goes out to the Warwick and Drinkard families at this difficult time." Bill Budris
"I Was very sad to read this morning of the death of Dee Dee. She's been a favourite singer of mine since I first heard her in the Sixties. She had a very distinctive voice, not just in her solo work but was also very recognizable as a backing singer. Sadly, I felt she was very underrated but to her fans, one of the most soulful singers of her generation and I treasure all the records I have of hers. Such a sad loss. Condolences tp her family and friends." Alan Jarvis (UK)
"David, as you can imagine, the news of Dee Dee's passing has cast a dark cloud over the start of the week. I have very fond memories of working with Dee Dee back in 1999 at the Pioneer Awards and was blown away by her stirring rendition of "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me," that night. Special thanks to YOU for being an ambassador to all of US by helping get Dee Dee's music released more prominently here in the states. She will be missed." Aric Dietrich
"David, I am saddened by the loss Miss Dionne Warwick, my "diva of divas" has suffered. Her sister, Dee Dee's death comes just two years after Lee Warrick died. I have no doubt that Dionne will be strong as always during her time of bereavement. Thanks to your greatest hits compilation of Dee Dee Warwrick hits, I was able to hear her soulful voice. Your liner notes also enlightened me on her many recordings that I was not familiar with. "Foolish Fool" has since become a favorite oldies of mine to listen to." Miles Bell (Atlanta, GA)
"I first met Dee Dee in Los Angeles at the "R & B Foundation Awards" in 1999. SHE had been the person I was most excited to meet as I heard her vocals gracing the background of so many of Dionne's '60's output. Prior meeting Dee Dee, I became familiar with her versions of "You're No Good", "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me", and my all time fave, "When Love Slips Away. I was in the lobby of the hotel where I was staying chatting with friends when Dee Dee walked in with her back-up singers, and what a glorious meeting we had. She was shocked that someone my age (I was a lad at the time) knew so much about her music and loved it so much. Later one of her back-up singers came back down and told me that I "..made Dee Dee's day.......". My last vision of DeeDee was a couple of days later when she was checking out to go back to Atlanta, and she was chatting with Vicki Wickham. Before DeeDee left, she told me that she really appreciated meeting me, and that she'll always remember the fact that I was such an informed person about her material. I will always recall DeeDee's down-to-earth aura, and her shyness as well. But I was glad to have told her how much I will always treasure meeting her." Tony Leong
"So sad to see the old time classic soul artists leave this earth, they were here, and their songs defined periods of time in our lives. Now its like another "marker of time" is gone! Our love and prayers go out to her family, what a wonderful collection of songs she left us!!" Louis Vincent Lima
"Dear David, I received your information today regarding the tragic death of Dee Dee Warwick, from the Soul scene here in Australia, I was very saddened at this news as she had recorded one of my all time favourite songs of all time: " Suspicious Minds ", this to me represented all that should be in Soul music - brilliant voice - great production - incredible backing = SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SOULFUL.
I remember coming to see you at the Soul City shop in the late 60's, buying up records, which later became termed Northern Soul - fantastic........I still buy records now and belong to a thriving Northern scene in Australia.
Much respect to you and all of our contemporaries for bringing to our attention wonderful singers / artists like Levi Stubbs, Isaac Hayes and Dee Dee, all will be sadly missed. Keep on,,,,,,,,,,,,,," Steve Parker (Perth, Western Australia)
"What a Singer! "When Love Slips Away", one of my all time favorites! She will be missed! My thoughts and prayers goes out to Dionne and family. Peace," Byron Woods
"Dee Dee Warwick will forever be known as "Dionne's sister"; but as Dionne herself often stated, "Dee Dee is the singer in the family," and as her small but fiercely loyal following will tell you, Dee Dee was one righteous soul diva. In fact, she probably would have been far more successful, if her name and appearance hadn't been so similar to that of her sister's.
Dee Dee also had the bad luck to record several songs which then went on to become huge hits for others. "You're No Good" was first issued by Dee Dee on an obscure little label; it was promptly covered by Chicago songstress Betty Everett, on the more widely-distributed Vee-Jay imprint, and became a major R&B hit. Then, in 1975, Linda Ronstadt did a note-for-note cover of Betty's version and took it to #1 on the pop charts! Similarly, Dee Dee recorded the first version of "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me," and scored some mild R&B action. Madeline Bell, an American gospel singer based out of England, covered it and took it to the pop Top 40. Then, a year later, it was appropriated by Diana Ross and the Supremes and The Temptations for their duet album, and became a huge #1 crossover smash.
As it happened, Dee Dee may never have recorded the One Big Song which made her a household name, but her long string of soulful sides for various labels in the 1960's and 1970's are beloved by fans and prized by collectors. I have a special fondness for Dee Dee; when I was around 20, I began corresponding with British-born music writer David Nathan -- a name well-known to anyone who is a serious fan of classic R&B. David loves his divas, and none more so than the sisters Warwick. He was kind enough to compile 2 CD's of rare Dee Dee singles for me, at a time when the technology was in its infancy. It was a painstaking process to transfer vinyl to computer to CD, and Napster-esque "file sharing" was all but unheard of. So I was thrilled beyond belief when I received this music; I was touched by David's generosity, and blown away by Dee Dee's soulful voice.
Dee Dee had been in poor health in recent years, but her passing still comes as a sad surprise. Our thoughts are with the entire Warwick family at this difficult time. We'll miss you, Miss Dee Dee!" Todd, NYC
"Although I was a young person when she was singing, I remember my brothers and their friends listening a dancing up a storm. Because of their love of music I based my early appreciation on Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick's music since their music made me feel so good inside.
I send prayers to the Warwick family and if it is any comfort please know that she is in "musical" heaven with the other stars that have gone on before her. She was a legend!" Niyofu Williams
"I am saddened to learn of the passing of Dee Dee Warwick. Dee Dee was a very underrated singer. Many people did not know of the greatness of her voice. After all she comes from a long line of great singers(Dionne Warwick, Cissy Houston and Whitney Houston). I recently ordered her greatest hits with my favorite songs being Foolish Fool and She Just Kept on Talking. Her renditions of I Wanna Be With You and Yours Until Tomorrow were beyond comparison. It's just a shame that she had to live in her sister's shadow much like Erma Franklin. I just happened to be playing Dee Dee's music last Sunday and the next morning I awoke to the news of her passing. I was in shock. May God Bless Her Family and may Dee Dee Warwick REST IN PEACE. We have lost yet another phenomenal talent." Paula H
About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.