Childhood & Early Years
Dee Dee Warwick was born Delia Juanita Warrick, on September 25, 1942, in East Orange, New Jersey, US. Her father, Mancel Warrick, was a certified public accountant, who began his career as ‘Pullman’ porter. He was also a gospel record promoter for ‘Chess Records.’
Her mother, Lee Drinkard-Warrick, was the manager of the gospel singing group ‘The Drinkard Singers,’ run mostly by the Drinkard family members. Born second of her parents’ three children, Dee Dee had one older sister named Dionne Warwick, who later became a celebrated singer, and a younger brother named Mancel Jr.
She attended the ‘East Orange High School,’ from where she graduated in 1960. By then, she had begun her career in music, rushing to work straight after school.
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Sometime in the late 1950s, Dee Dee began performing with her sister, Dionne, and their aunt, Cissy Houston, at the ‘New Hope Baptist Church Choir,’ Newark. Later, they formed a group called ‘Gospelaire’ and began working as session singers.
In 1959, while performing at the ‘Apollo Theatre,’ Harlem, they caught the attention of a producer from ‘Savoy Records.’ He came backstage, asking them if they could sing backgrounds for a recording session with saxophonist Sam Taylor. It led to their recording debut, with the song ‘Won’t You Deliver Me’ for ‘Savoy.’
After ‘Won’t You Deliver Me,’ they began to do sessions, first for ‘Savoy’ and later for ‘Atlantic Records’ and ‘Mercury Records.’ Soon, they became one of the busiest session singer groups, singing backgrounds for artists such as Gene Pitney, Connie Francis, and Elvis Presley, and eventually earning a lot of money.
In 1963, Dee Dee embarked on a solo career, making her debut with ‘You’re No Good’ for ‘Jubilee Records.’ Unfortunately, it was covered more successfully by Betty Everett the same year. Thus, her original version got eclipsed.
In 1964, she released her second solo record, under ‘Tiger Records.’ It had ‘Standing By’ on side A and ‘Don't Think My Baby's Coming Back' on the other side. The same year, she recorded ‘I (Who Have Nothing)’ for the newly founded label named ‘Hurd’ from Buffalo.
In 1965, she signed a contract with ‘Mercury Records,’ releasing her first disc for their subsidiary label ‘Blue Rock’ in February. It had ‘Do it with All Your Heart’ on side A and ‘Happiness’ on side B.
In June 1965, she released her second record with ‘Blue Rock,’ including songs such as ‘We're Doing Fine' on side A and 'I Want to Be with You' on side B. Of the two, ‘We're Doing Fine' secured a place among the top 30 on the R&B charts, giving her the first taste of success.
Two of her other works released in 1965 were ‘Gotta Get a Hold of Myself’ and ‘Baby I'm Yours.’ The songs gave expression to her passion and became very popular.
In 1965, as her career as a solo singer began to pick up, she left ‘Gospelaires.’ Meanwhile, on March 30, she debuted on network TV, performing the gospel song ‘Children, Go Where I Send Thee’ on ‘NBC's ‘Hullabaloo.’
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In 1966, 'I Want to Be with You’ began picking up airplay on its own right, reaching number 9 on the R&B charts. The same year, she scored another hit, ‘I'm Gonna
Make You Love Me,’ which reached number 13 on the R&B charts and number 88 on the pop charts.
In 1967, she released her first album, ‘I Want to Be with You/I'm Gonna Make You Love Me.’ Thereafter, she continued to release a number of singles, eventually publishing her next album, ‘Foolish Fool,’ in 1969.
In 1970, she signed with ‘Atco,’ releasing her first track with them, ‘She Didn't Know (She Kept on Talking)’ in February. She hit the R&B charts with the song. Another hit single of hers from the album was ‘Make Love to Me.’ The songs were later included in her third and last album with them, ‘Turning Around.’
Her tenure with ‘Atco’ was highly unrewarding. Although she continued to release tracks, most of them were shelved. Among the published tracks was ‘Suspicious Mind,’ which turned out to be her final R&B hit. ‘Everybody's Got to Believe in Something’ was another memorable work. In 1973, she left ‘Atco.’
In 1974, she moved to ‘Private Stock,’ releasing her last charting track, ‘Get out of My Life,’ in 1975. It reached number 73 on the R&B charts. Thereafter, she continued to work until 2008, releasing her last album, ‘Dee Dee Warwick, Call Me,’ in 1984.