Burt Bacharach The Composer Who Wrote The Songbook of The 60’s Dies

When you hear these songs;”Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,”This Guy’s in Love with You,””(They Long to Be) Close to You,” “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do),” “That’s What Friends Are For” there is one name that comes to mind….Burt Bacharach. I grew up with his music becoming the sound track of my life. He was a composer, songwriter, record producer, and pianist who composed hundreds of pop songs from the late 1950s through the 1980s, many in collaboration with lyricist Hal David. A six-time Grammy Award winner and three-time Academy Award winner, Bacharach’s songs have been recorded by more than 1,000 different artists.

Most of Bacharach and David’s hits were written specifically for and performed by Dionne Warwick. Bacharach went on to write hits for Gene Pitney, Cilla Black, Perry Como, Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon, Bobbie Gentry, Tom Jones, Herb Alpert, B. J. Thomas, and the Carpenters, among numerous other artists. He arranged, conducted, and produced much of his recordings.

In 1956, at the age of 28, Bacharach’s productivity increased when composer Peter Matz recommended him to Marlene Dietrich, who needed an arranger and conductor for her nightclub shows.

In the early and mid-1960s, Bacharach wrote well over a hundred songs with David. In 1961 Bacharach discovered singer Dionne Warwick while she was a session accompanist. Dionne made her professional recording debut the following year with her first hit, “Don’t Make Me Over“.[41]

Over the next 20 years, Warwick’s recordings of his songs sold over 12 million copies, with 38 singles making the charts and 22 in the Top 40

Bacharach composed and arranged the soundtrack of the 1967 film Casino Royale, which included “The Look of Love”, performed by Dusty Springfield, and the title song, an instrumental Top 40 single for Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. 

Bacharach and David also collaborated on the 1968 musical Promises, Promise. The year 1969 marked, perhaps, the most successful Bacharach-David collaboration, the Oscar-winning “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”, written for and prominently featured in the acclaimed film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The two were awarded a Grammy for Best Cast album of the year for “Promises, Promises” and the score was also nominated for a Tony award.

In 1971, Barbra Streisand appeared on The Burt Bacharach Special, as were dancer Rudolph Nureyev and singer Tom Jones. In 1972 with Sammy Davis Jr., Anthony Newley, and Vikki Carr.

In 1973, Bacharach and David wrote the score for Lost Horizon.

Bacharach and David reunited briefly in 1975 to write and produce Stephanie Mills’ second album, For The First Time, for Motown.

Bacharach’s marriage to Angie Dickinson ended, but he formed a new partnership with lyricist Carole Bayer Sager and “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do),” “That’s What Friends Are For” and other songs came forth.

Bacharach occasionally joined Warwick for sold-out concerts in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York, where they performed at the Rainbow Room. A Grammy-winning album with Elvis Costello, Ronald Isley, Rufus Wainwright, and hip-hop producer Dr. Dre came next.

Bacharach’s autobiography, Anyone Who Had a Heart, was published in 2013.

At 88 years old, Bacharach composed and arranged his first original score in 16 years for the film A Boy Called Po. The theme song, “Dancing with Your Shadow”, was performed by Sheryl Crow.

After seeing the film, a true story about a child with autism, Bacharach decided he wanted to write a score for it, as well as a theme song, in tribute to his daughter Nikki — who had gone undiagnosed with Asperger syndrome, and who committed suicide at the age of 40.

“Live to See Another Day”, was dedicated to survivors of school gun violence. Proceeds from the release went to the charity Sandy Hook Promise.

In July 2020, Bacharach collaborated with songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Tashian on the EP Blue Umbrella, Bacharach’s first new material in 15 years. It earned Bacharach and Tashian a Grammy Award nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.

Bacharach and David received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the first time the honor has been given to a songwriting team.

Bacharach died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles on February 8, 2023, at the age of 94.

Burt Bacharach will be missed but his songs will live on.