The Songwriters Hall of Fame was saddened to learn of the passing of 1972 inductee and 1996 Johnny Mercer Awardee Burt Bacharach.
Burt Bacharach enjoyed major hits in all genres of music, including top 40, rhythm and blues, country, film scores and soundtracks. He was a multi-faceted composer enjoying credits with a host of major collaborators, particularly SHOF inductee and Chairman Emeritus Hal David.
Born in Missouri, Bacharach grew up in New York City where he began taking piano lessons. He continued his education at Montreal's McGill University, the New School for Social Research in New York and the Mannes School of Music, also in New York, and his studies included music composition from such masters as Darius Milhaud, Bohuslav Martinu, and Henry Cowell.
During the earliest phase of his career, Bacharach worked as accompanist and conductor for Marlene Dietrich's night club act. In the early and mid-sixties, his songwriting talents became the pivotal force in his music, with country-rock smashes, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and the classic, Only Love Can Break A Heart, for Gene Pitney; and Story Of My Life for the country star, Marty Robbins.
Bacharach and Hal David became long term contributors to the career of Dionne Warwick. Over a period of 10 years, the pair enjoyed a string of 39 consecutive chart hits with Ms. Warwick, including such memorable songs as Walk On By, Don't Make Me Over, I'll Never Fall In Love Again, Promises, Promises, and Message To Michael. The song That's What Friends Are For, recorded by Warwick with Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and Gladys Knight, and co-written with Carole Bayer Sager, became number one on the hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts, received a Grammy for "Song of the Year," and with songwriters and artists all contributing their services without charge, the recording raised over $1,500,000 for The American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR).
Burt Bacharach's motion picture scores have also achieved classic status. With Hal David as co-writer, the output includes a series of memorable themes, such as What's New Pussycat, (the title song was a million-seller for Britain's Tom Jones); Casino Royale, from which the song The Look Of Love was a gold record for both Dusty Springfield and Sergio Mendez and Brazil 66. The title song became a major hit for Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Others in the movie genre include Alfie, Together? with vocals by Michael McDonald, Jackie DeShannon, and Libby Titus; Arthur, Night Shift, Making Love, Baby Boom and the memorable Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, for which he received a pair of Oscars. An album compilation of greatest Bacharach hits featuring the original recordings and titled Look of Love, promptly hit the number six position on the UK best-selling charts.
He scored three Academy Awards and eight Grammys over the course of his career and was an award-winning Broadway composer for Promises, Promises. His songs have been recorded by over 1,000 different singers.
He’s also been given the crown of the King of Easy Listening and has more recently worked with icons such as Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello and Dr. Dre. He has scored 73 Top 40 hits in the United States and 52 in the United Kingdom over the decades.
He is survived by wife Jane Hansen and children Oliver, Raleigh and Cristopher.