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Dionne Warwick on Her Rock Hall Induction: ‘I’ve Never Considered Myself a Rock & Roller’

Since the lockdown four years ago, Dionne Warwick has been known almost as much for her pithy tweets as for her velvety singing voice and the gorgeous Burt Bacharach-Hal David hits she transformed into pop standards. “I don’t get up in the morning and say, ‘I’ve got to tweet today,’” she tells Rolling Stone. “I do it when I feel there’s something I want to say.”

That moment arrived again this past Monday, when Warwick tweeted: “In every game it’s usually 3 strikes and you’re out. I guess I hit a home run this time! Happy to be part of the roster of the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.” Sure enough, Warwick, who’d been nominated for admission into the Rock Hall in 2021 and 2022, finally made it in this year. We caught up with the venerable and wise legend, 83, to dig deeper into the thoughts behind that post.

So, after all this time, what was your reaction to hearing you were finally going to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
I was here at home when I was receiving all kinds of calls, congratulating me. And I had no idea as to what they were congratulating me for. They’re saying, “Oh, you’ve been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.” I said, “I have?” But it’s exciting that I’ve finally been considered to receive it. And I’m looking forward to it.

I assume you knew you were nominated again this year.
No, I didn’t.

It was a surprise?
Complete. So it was kind of surprising. I’ve never considered myself a rock & roller. I guess everybody else did, except me. Which is OK, you know. I’ll be a rock & roller if that’s what you want me to be.

What do you think changed this time?
I haven’t a clue. But I’m happy that I’m being considered again. My mantra has always been it happens when it’s supposed to.

Now we have to get Bacharach and David in there.
Absolutely. If I made it, they definitely should be in.

Have you discussed which song or songs you’ll sing and maybe with whom at the ceremony?
We haven’t discussed any of that yet. I was completely blindsided by it all.

You’re also in a special category, the Musical Excellence Award.
Which is wonderful. I always considered my music to be excellent.

Did anyone explain to you the difference between the Performer category (which includes Cher, Mary J. Blige, Dave Matthews, and others) and the one for Musical Excellence?
No, I haven’t a clue as to what the difference is. It’s all kind of new to me. i watched a couple of these shows where the people were put into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame thing, but never saw myself as one of those to be considered.

What’s the most rock & roll thing about you?
I guess the fact that I have had the opportunity to listen to it. And I know quite a few of those who are truly considered to the rock & rollers. I’ve toured with them. But aside from that… That’s my whole association with rock & roll.   

What were your most memorable shows or tours with rock acts?  
My first trips to England in the early Sixties were tours with the Searchers, the Seekers, and the Beatles. All of them were considered to be rock & roll groups. 

Given your gospel background, what was that experience like for you?
It was quite interesting. I remember vividly the first gig with the Searchers. They told me, “Don’t be upset if you don’t hear yourself singing, because they’ll be screaming.” I said, “Oh, really?” They said, “Yeah, you probably won’t even hear your music; that’s how loud it’s going to be. And they will throw things at you. But it will be jellybeans and teddy bears and things of that nature.” I said, “Oh-kay.” It was an experience.

So what happened when you went out?
I walked out, and they started up the introduction of my first recording, “Don’t Make Me Over.” And I really did not hear a thing. They were screaming so loud.  

How did you adjust?
I didn’t adjust. I just kept on singing!

What’s your best Beatles hangout story from that time?
I remember vividly them coming to one of my shows at the Savoy Hotel in London. I made reservations for them, and they showed up looking like the Beatles. The Savoy Hotel, as you know, is one of those very, very posh hotels, very proper, and here they are showing up in their Beatle way. They were refused seating.

I got a call to my room from John, saying, “They won’t let us us.” I said, “Yes, they will.” And I came down and said to the maître d’, “You’re not allowing my friends to be seated — why?” He said, “They’re not dressed properly.” I said, “Well, guess what? If they’re not properly dressed and you’re not seating them, then I guess I will not be going on stage.” He said, “What?” And I said, “That’s the deal. Is it seated or no show?”


Well, needless to say, they were seated.  After the show was over, we all went to a little club,  basically for people who were in the business. It wasn’t an open kind of place. We were relaxing, dancing, and just hanging out.

Did you ever trash a hotel room during those tours with those bands?
No [laughs]. As I said, I wasn’t a rocker & roller. They were.

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