Who Is Dee Dee Warwick?
Earlier this week, it was learned that Whitney, the upcoming documentary about Whitney Houston, contained the allegation that Houston and her half-brother Gary were molested by her cousin Dee Dee Warwick. While Dee Dee's work has been overshadowed by the accomplishments of her older sister, Dionne, she also had a distinguished career, with many hits in the '60s and '70s, prior to her death in 2008.
Born Delia Mae Warrick on Sept. 25, 1945, Dee Dee was raised in a family of gospel singers, including her aunt Cissy Houston (Whitney's mother) and learned to sing in the choir of Newark, N.J.'s New Hope Baptist Church. The Warrick girls, Cissy, Judy Clay and Doris Troy formed the Gospelaires and, after winning the weekly talent show at the Apollo Theater in 1959, they started getting work as studio backup singers.
The first track they recorded was "Won't You Deliver Me" by Sam "The Man" Taylor. They soon graced other recordings by Garnet Mimms, the Drifters, Ben E. King, Aretha Franklin and other New York-based R&B singers, calling themselves the Sweet Inspirations for their secular work.
But solo careers and a change of last name to "Warwick" soon beckoned, and Dionne broke through in 1962 with "Don't Make Me Over," the first of her many hits penned by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Dee Dee signed with Jubilee a year later, with her first single being "You're No Good." Unfortunately, Betty Everett released her own version of the song shortly thereafter and had a bigger hit. (Linda Ronstadt took her version of the song to No. 1 in 1975.)
Although she continued to record for other labels, it wasn't until Warwick signed with Mercury subsidiary Blue Rock and paired with producer Ed Townsend in 1965 that she began to taste chart success. Her recording of "I Want to Be With You," from the Broadway musical Golden Boy, became her biggest hit, reaching No. 9 on the R&B chart and just missing the Top 40 of the pop chart. She hit the Top 20 of the R&B chart with her next song, "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me," which was later recorded as a duet by Diana Ross and the Temptations.
After another hit with "Foolish Fool," she moved to Atco in 1970. But she would soon find herself lost in the shuffle -- she would later say that they were more focused on Aretha Franklin and Roberta Flack -- and her time on the label ended in 1973, charting only three singles at R&B, including a 1971 cover of Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds."
She continued to record for several labels until the mid-'80s, and also resurfaced singing backup for Dionne. She passed away on Oct. 18, 2008 at a nursing home in Essex County, N.J. Her story was featured on an episode of the Chancellor of Soul's Soul Facts show, which is embedded below.