Friday, January 24, 1986

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted its first class: January 23, 1986

Originally posted January 23, 2012.

image from

The museum wouldn’t open until 1995 (“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opens its doors: September 2, 1995”), but the first induction ceremony was held on January 23, 1986 in New York City at the Waldorf-Astoria Grand Ballroom.

The evening kicked off with Keith Richards’ induction speech for Chuck Berry. Richards said, “It’s very difficult for me to talk about Chuck Berry ‘cause I’ve lifted every lick he ever played.” RH After ripping off his tux jacket to reveal a leopard-print jacket underneath, Berry continued saying, “This is the gentleman who started it all!’” RH

In addition to Berry, the first class of inductees included James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley in the performers category. Non-performers were Alan Freed and Sam Phillips. Early influences were Robert Johnson, Jimmie Rodgers, and Jimmy Yancey.

The initial intent was a dinner with music provided by Paul Shaffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band from Late Night with David Letterman. Inductees were not expected to perform. As Shaffer told Rolling Stone in 2009, “"We didn’t want people to feel as if they had to sing for their supper, but we had brought in instruments just in case.” RS However, by the end of the first ceremony Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, and others were on stage in what has become an all-star jam tradition.

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Saturday, January 18, 1986

“That’s What Friends Are For” hit #1

First posted 12/15/2019; updated 3/15/2021.

That’s What Friends Are For

Dionne & Friends (Elton John, Gladys Knight, & Stevie Wonder)

Writer(s): Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager (see lyrics here)

First Charted: November 9, 1985

Peak: 14 US, 13 CB, 12 RR, 12 AC, 13 RB, 16 UK, 11 CN, 11 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.1 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 80.74 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, two of history’s most celebrated songwriters, combined their talents for the music for 1982’s Night Shift. The five songs they wrote for the movie were recorded by Bacharch, Al Jarreau, the Pointer Sisters, Quaterflash, and Rod Stewart. Despite the impressive talent roster, the soundtrack failed to produce a top 40 hit.

Sager had hopes for “That’s What Friends Are For,” the song recorded by Stewart. As she said, “It felt like Rod could put a little edge on the song that might make it very attractive.” BR However, she adds, “the record company didn’t want to consider it as a single for Rod because they thought it was too soft. The song quietly disappeared into oblivion.” BR

In 1983, television producer Aaron Spelling tapped Sager and Bacharach to write the theme song for Finder of Lost Loves. At Spelling’s suggestion, Bacharach reached out to Dionne Warwick to record the song. They hadn’t spoken in ten years, but Warwick had been the go-to artist to record compositions for Bacharach and then-songwriting-partner Hal David, recording 33 chart hits from 1962 to 1971 which were penned by the duo. BR

The reunion led to Bacharach and Sager producing material for Warwick in 1985. She and Stevie Wonder had just worked together on The Woman in Red soundtrack and Sager suggested the pair record “That’s What Friends Are For.” On the day of recording, Neil Simon and Elizabeth Taylor visited the studio. Sager knew what an AIDS activist Taylor was and proposed the proceeds from the song be donated to AIDS research. Warwick suggested they add Gladys Knight as a singer and Clive Davis, President of Arista Records (the company which released the single), suggested adding Elton John as well. BR In addition to singing, John and Wonder lent their respective piano and harmonica-playing skills to the song. WK

The result was a massive hit, topping the Billboard pop, adult contemporary, and R&B charts and being named the magazine’s Song of the Year. It also won the Grammy for Song of the Year. It raised $3 million for American Foundation for AIDS Research WK at a time when the disease carried a stigma for anyone even willing to discuss it. SF

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