Feb 09, 2023
By Mark Redfern
Burt Bacharach has died. He was 94. The New York Times reports that he passed away yesterday at his house in Los Angeles. No official cause of death has been given, but natural causes is likely.
Bacharach was a legendary musician and composer, most known for his work in the 1960s and his partnership with lyricist Hal David. Bacharach has written or co-written over 70 Top 40 U.S. hits (and had over 50 hits in England too). Some of his songs to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 include “This Guy’s in Love with You” (1968), “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” (1969), “(They Long to Be) Close to You” (1970), “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” (1981), and “That’s What Friends Are For” (1986).
Bacharach wrote songs for Dionne Warwick, Marty Robbins, Perry Como, Gene McDaniels, Jerry Butler, Gene Pitney, Cilla Black, Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon, Bobbie Gentry, Tom Jones, Herb Alpert, B. J. Thomas, Doris Day, The Carpenters, The Walker Brothers, Christopher Cross, and many others.
He also wrote songs and scores for various notable movies (including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) and won three Oscars, as well as six Grammys. Bacharach’s music for the 1967 James Bond spoof Casino Royale, including its hit Dusty Springfield song “The Look of Love,” led to Bacharach having cameos in all three Austin Powers films in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Bacharach also collaborated with Elvis Costello, including the 1998 album Painted By Memory, and on March 3 UMe is releasing the boxset The Songs of Bacharach & Costello. Costello was also featured on Bacharach’s 2005 album, At This Time, alongside Rufus Wainwright and Dr. Dre.
Bacharach was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1928, but grew up in the Kew Gardens section of New York City. His father was a syndicated newspaper columnist and his mother was an amateur painter who encouraged her son to take piano lessons. At age 28, in 1956, Bacharach started to make a name for himself as the part-time music director for actress/singer Marlene Dietrich. Bacharach met David a year later at the famed Brill Building in New York City. After some early hits—including Marty Robbins’ “The Story of My Life” and Perry Como’s “Magic Moments”—Bacharach and David officially formed a songwriting partnership in 1963. Bacharach then discovered singer Dionne Warwick when she was a session musician and Bacharach and David proceeded to write many hits for her.
Bacharach was married four times, including to actresses Paula Stewart and Angie Dickinson, lyricist Carole Bayer Sager, and most recently to Jane Hansen. He had four children (three biologically and one adopted). His daughter with Dickinson, Nikki Bacharach, was autistic and tragically took her own life in 2007, at the age of 40. In 2013, Bacharach published his autobiography, Anyone Who Had a Heart.
Below is a selection of songs and albums he wrote.