Burt Bacharach, the legendary composer of pop songs, died at 94 | Fun news

Composer Burt Bacharach, whose hits such as Do You Know the Way to San Jose and Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head provided a mellow alternative soundtrack for rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s and 1970s, has died aged 94 year, the publicist said on Thursday.

Bacharach died of natural causes on Wednesday at his home in the Los Angeles area with his family by his side, Tina Brausam told the Reuters news agency.

His songs, many of which were written in a 16-year collaboration with songwriter Hal David, were neither rock nor strictly pop. They filled American radio shows and appeared in major motion pictures, making them as frequently heard in the 1960s and early 1970s as the works of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.

Bacharach wrote more than 500 songs, many of which feature tinkling pianos and subtly seductive horns. He wrote hits for singers from Dionne Warwick to the Carpenters. More than 1,200 artists performed his songs, which won six Grammys and three Oscars. Bacharach and David had 30 Top 40 hits in the ’60s alone.

“He was just different,” David said in an interview. “Innovative, original. His music spoke to me. I’d hear his melodies, I’d hear the lyrics, I’d hear the rhymes, I’d hear the thoughts and I’d hear it almost immediately.”

For Bacharach, his talent was simple: “I’m a person who always tries to do melody.”

With suave good looks and a cool demeanor, Bacharach was described by songwriter Sammy Cahn as “the only songwriter who doesn’t look like a dentist.”

Bacharach’s songs were recorded by artists from A to Z, literally – from Aretha (Franklin) to Zoot (Sims).

Burt Bacharach, left, and Elvis Costello hold their awards
Burt Bacharach, left, and Elvis Costello hold their Grammy Awards for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for I Still Have That Other Girl in 1999. [File: Kevork Djansezian/AP]

“The shorthand version of him is that he’s about easy listening,” Elvis Costello, who co-wrote the 1998 album Painted from Memory with Bacharach, said in a 2018 interview with the Associated Press. “It may be pleasant to listen to these songs, but there is nothing easy about them. Try playing them. Try to sing them.”

The box set, The Songs of Bacharach & Costello, is due out on March 3rd.

In addition to six Grammys for his songs, he was awarded a seventh for an instrumental album and a lifetime achievement award,

He won two Oscars in 1970 for the music of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and for the song Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head, which he shared with David. In 1982, he and his then-wife, songwriter Carole Bayer Sager, won an Academy Award for Best That You Can Do, the theme from the movie Arthur. His other film soundtracks included What’s New Maco?, Alfie and the 1967 James Bond feature Casino Royale.

Bacharach was a frequent guest at the White House regardless of whether the president was a Republican or a Democrat. In 2012, he was presented with the Gershwin Award by Barack Obama, who sang a few seconds of Walk on By during a campaign appearance.

Married four times, Bacharach made his most lasting connections with work. He was a perfectionist who took three weeks to write Alfie and could spend hours perfecting one chord. Sager once remarked that Bacharach’s life routines remained essentially the same—only the women had changed.

Burt Bacharach, from left, appears with Oscar winners Carole Bayer Sager, Christopher Cross and Peter Allen
Burt Bacharach, from left, appears with Carole Bayer Sager, Christopher Cross and Peter Allen, Oscar winners for Best Original Song for Best That You Can Do from the 1982 film Arthur. [File: Reed Saxon/AP]

Bacharach was essentially a pop composer, but his songs became hits for country artists (Marty Robbins), rhythm and blues artists (Chuck Jackson), soul singers (Franklin, Luther Vandross) and synth-pop musicians (Naked Eyes). He reached a new generation of listeners in the 1990s with the help of Costello and others.

In the 21st century, he was still exploring new ground, writing his own lyrics and recording with rapper Dr Dre.

He was married to his first wife, Paula Stewart, from 1953 to 1958, and married a fourth time to Jane Hansen in 1993. He also married actress Angie Dickinson. He is survived by Hansen, as well as his children Oliver, Raleigh and Christopher, Brausam said. He was preceded in death by his daughter with Dickinson, Nikki Bacharach.

Composer Burt Bacharach accepts the Academy Award for Best Original Score for "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"
Burt Bacharach accepts the Academy Award for Best Original Score for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at the 1970 Academy Awards. [File: AP]

A pianist with a passion for jazz, Bacharach was born on May 12, 1928, in Kansas City, Missouri, and studied the art of composition at several American universities.

Bacharach was drafted into the Army in the late 1940s and was still on active duty during the Korean War, but American officers soon learned of his talents and wanted him home. When he did go abroad, it was to Germany, where he wrote orchestrations for a recreation center at a military base.

After completing his military service, he was hired by Marlene Dietrich as an arranger and musical director for her tours.

The young musician and eternal singer quickly fell in love, and Bacharach traveled the world with her in the late 1950s and early 60s. At every performance, she would introduce him in style: “I would like you to meet the man – he is my arranger, he is my accompanist, he is my conductor, and I would like to be able to say that he is my composer, but that is not true. . He’s everybody’s composer – Burt Bacharach!”

In 1957, he met David, who passed away in 2012, and with whom he would form one of the most successful partnerships in the music industry.

Working in a small office in Broadway’s famed Brill Building, they produced their first million-selling album, Magic Moments, sung by Perry Como in 1958. In 1962, they spotted the Drifters’ backing singer, Warwick, who had “a very special kind of grace and elegance,” Bacharach recalled.

Burt Bacharach (right) stands with President Obama
Burt Bacharach, right, receives the 2012 Gershwin Library of Congress Award for Popular Song from US President Barack Obama during a concert at the White House honoring Bacharach and his songwriting partner Hal David on May 9, 2012. [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

The trio had one hit after another. The songs were as complicated to record as they were easy to listen to. Bacharach liked to experiment with time signatures and arrangements, such as having two pianists play on Walk on By, their performance slightly out of tune to give the song a “jagged feel,” he wrote in his memoirs.

The Bacharach-David partnership ended in the dismal failure of the 1973 musical remake of Lost Horizon. Bacharach became so depressed that he isolated himself in his vacation home in Del Mar, California, and refused to work.

“I didn’t want to write with Hal or anybody,” he told the AP in 2004. Nor did he want to fulfill the commitment to record Warwick. Both she and David sued him.

Bacharach and David eventually reconciled. When David died, Bacharach praised him for writing lyrics “like a miniature movie”.

Meanwhile, Bacharach continued to work, vowing never to retire, always believing that a good song can make a difference.

“Music softens the heart, it makes you feel something if it’s good, it brings emotions that maybe you haven’t felt before,” he told the AP in 2018. “It’s a very powerful thing if you can do that, if you have the heart to do something like that.”

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