Burt Bacharach, legendary songwriter and composer dies aged 94

Songwriter and composer Burt Bacharach has died aged 94. He died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles on 8th February.

He had a major impact on popular music for over six decades. Born on May 12, 1928, in Kansas City, Missouri, Bacharach showed an early talent for music and began studying piano and composition at a young age.

He went on to study music at the Mannes College of Music in New York City and later at the acclaimed composition program at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Bacharach established himself as one of the most successful songwriters and producers in the music industry, writing and producing hit songs for a variety of artists, including Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield, and Tom Jones.

His work during this period was characterized by his innovative musical style, which blended elements of jazz, classical, and pop music to create a unique sound. He also began collaborating with lyricist Hal David, and the two would go on to write some of the biggest hits of the 1960s and 1970s, including Walk on By, I Say a Little Prayer, Anyone Who Had a Heart, Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, and Close to You.

Bacharach’s work as a composer and songwriter earned him numerous accolades, including multiple Grammy Awards and Academy Award nominations. In the late 1960s, he also began writing music for films, including the soundtrack for the 1967 film Casino Royale.

He continued to write music for films throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and his work was featured in films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), What’s New Pussycat (1965), and Arthur (1981).

He was married four times; his second wife was actor Angie Dickinson. After their union ended, he married singer songwriter Carole Bayer Sager. Together they wrote more hits including On My Own, a hit for Patti LaBelle, and That’s What Friends Are For which was recorded as a charity record by Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Glady Knight to raise money for HIV research.  

In the 1990’s he collaborated with Elvis Costello, the pair releasing an album together called Painted from Memory. They later reunited to work on tracks featured on Costello’s 2018 album Look Now.

Colleagues and admirers have paid tribute to Bacharach.

“His songs were an inspiration to people like me.” Paul Mc Cartney posted to Twitter. “I met him on a couple of occasions and he was a very kind and talented man who will be missed by us all. His songs were distinctive and different from many others in the ’60s and ’70s.”

The Beach Boy’s Brian Wilson described Bacharach as an inspiration.

“I’m so sad to hear about Burt Bacharach. Burt was a hero of mine and very influential on my work. He was a giant in the music business. His songs will live forever. Love and Mercy to Burt’s family.” Wilson said.

Jimmy Barnes, Kristin Chenoweth, Sussanah Hoffs, Vernon Reid, Tony Bennett, Ron Sexsmith and Siedah Garrett were just a few of the stars paying tribute to Bacharach. Fellow songwriters Jackie DeShannon and Diane Warren also praised Bacharach’s output.

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