Legendary pop composer Burt Bacharach dies at 94

New York (AP) β€” Burt Bacharach An exceptionally talented and popular artist who delighted millions with his quirky arrangements and haunting melodies on “Walk on By,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” and dozens of other hits. A composer has died at the age of 94.

The Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award winner Bacharach died Wednesday of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles, publicist Tina Browsome said Thursday.

Over the past 70 years, Lennon McCartney, Carole King, and just a handful of others have been credited with his genius with instantly catchy tunes that continued to be played, performed, and hummed long after they were written. He had a string of Top 10 hits from the 1950s Entering the 21st century, His music has played on everything from movie soundtracks and radio to home stereo systems and iPods, including “Alfie,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” and “This Guy’s in Love with You.” “

Dionne Warwick was his favorite interpreter, but Bacharach usually collaborated with lyricist Hal David on major material for Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones and many others. Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and countless other artists have covered his songs, and more recently performers like The White Stripes, Twista and Ashanti have sung or sampled him. “Walk On By” alone has been covered by everyone from Warwick and Isaac Hayes to British punk bands The Stranglers and Cyndi Lauper.

Bacharach was as much a throwback as an innovator, and his career seemed to parallel the rock era. He grew up on jazz and classical music, and had little taste for rock when he entered the business in the 1950s. His sensibilities often seemed more in line with Tin Pan Alley than with Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and other later writers, but the rock composer I appreciated the depth of his seemingly archaic sensibility.

Elvis Costello, who wrote Bacharach and his 1998 album Painted From Memory, said in a 2018 interview with The Associated Press, “His easy version is that it has to do with easy listening. “It may be fun to listen to these songs, but it’s not easy. Try playing them. Try singing.”

The ‘The Songs of Bacharach & Costello’ box set will be released on March 3rd.

He triumphed in many artforms.He won eight Grammy Awards and won numerous awards Broadway composer “Promise, Promise” and a three-time Oscar winner. He won his two Academy Awards in 1970. The score for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and the song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” (shared with David). In 1982, he and his then-wife, lyricist Carol Bayer Sager, released “Arthur.” It included the spoofed movie “Casino Royale”.

Bacharach was well paid and well connected. Whether the president was a Republican or a Democrat, he visited the White House frequently. In 2012, he received the Gershwin Award from Barack Obama. Barack Obama sang “Walk On By” for a few seconds during his campaign.

In his life, and in his music, he stood out. Fellow songwriter Sammy Cahn joked that the smiling, wavy-haired Bacharach was the first composer to not look like a dentist. Bacharach was called “Swinger” at the time. From 1965 she had many romances, including actor Angie Dickinson, whom she married from 1980, and Sager, who became his wife from 1982 to 1991.

Married four times, he developed his most lasting connection with work. He’s a perfectionist, and it took him three weeks to write “Alfie,” sometimes spending hours tweaking a single piece of code. Sager once observed that Bacharach’s daily life basically remained the same, only his wife had changed.

It started with a melody – strong, interspersed with shifting rhythms and surprising harmonics. He attributes much of his style to his love of bebop and his classical education, especially under the tutelage of the famous composer Darius Milhaud. He once performed a piece for piano, violin and oboe for Milhaud, which contained melodies that he was ashamed to have written, because 12-point atonal music was fashionable at the time. I was. Milhaud liked the song and advised young people not to be afraid of the melody.

β€œIt was a big affirmation for me,” Bacharach recalled in 2004.

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

Mike Myers recalls hearing the steamy “The Look of Love” on the radio and instantly finding inspiration for the “Austin Powers” retro spy comedy with a cameo by Bacharach.

In the 21st century, he was still experimenting with 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 his fourth marriage to Jane Hansen in 1993. He is survived by Hansen and his children Oliver, Laurie, and Christopher. He was predeceased by Dickinson’s daughter, Nicky Bacharach.

Bacharach knew the height of admiration, but he remembered that he had grown up alone. As a child, his favorite book was Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. He related to the sexually impotent Jake Burns and considered himself “socially impotent”.

He was born in Kansas City, Missouri, but soon moved to New York City. His father was a columnist for the Syndicate and his mother was a pianist, who encouraged the boy to study music. He was more interested in sports, but he didn’t want to disappoint his mother, so he practiced the piano every day after school.While still underage, he snuck into a jazz club with a fake ID and told Dizzy he I was listening to famous songs such as Gillespie of ‘s and Count’s Basie.

In his memoir, Anyone Who Had a Heart, published in 2013, he wrote in his memoir, “They were so exciting that suddenly I fell in love with music in a way I never had before. twisted.”

Although he was a poor student, he managed to enter the conservatory of music at McGill University in Montreal. Music may have also saved Bacharach’s life. He was drafted into the Army in his late 1940s and remained active during the Korean War. However, state officers soon saw his talent and wanted to take him in. Where he went abroad was in Germany, where he wrote an orchestration for a recreation center at a local military base.

After being discharged, he returned to New York and tried to get into the music business. Although he had little success as a songwriter at first, he became a popular arranger and accompanist, and toured with Vic Damone, the Ames Brothers, and his eventual first wife, Stewart. Did. When a friend who was touring with Marlene Dietrich was unable to perform a show in Las Vegas, he asked Bacharach to intervene.

The young musician and immortal singer hit it off immediately, and Bacharach traveled with her around the world in the late 1950s and early ’60s. At each of her performances, she presented him in spectacular style. But it’s not. He’s everyone’s composer… Burt Bacharach! ”

During that time, he met his ideal songwriter partner, David, as businesslike as Bacharach, whimsical, and tame enough to catch the train that leaves every night at 5 o’clock to return to his family on Long Island. Working from a small office in Broadway’s famous Brill Building, they produced the first million-selling “Magic Moment” sung by Perry Como in 1958. In 1962, they found Warwick, the Drifters’ backup singer. He had “a very special grace and elegance,” recalls Bacharach.

The trio produced hit after hit. The songs were as complex to record as they were easy to hear. Bacharach liked experimenting with time signatures and arrangements, such as on “Walk on By” where he was played by two pianists. He wrote in his memoirs that the two played only slightly out of sync, which gave the song a “jagged feel”.

Bacharach and David’s partnership ended with the disastrous failure of the musical remake of 1973’s “Lost Horizon.” Bacharach became very depressed and isolated at his villa in Del Mar, refusing to work.

“I didn’t want to write with Hal or anyone else,” he told the Associated Press in 2004. She and David both sued him.

Bacharach and David eventually reconciled. When David died in 2012, Bacharach praised him for writing the lyrics “like a miniature movie.”

During that time, Bacharach vowed to keep working and never retire, always believing that a good song could make a difference.

“Music calms me down. If it’s good, it makes me feel something. It brings me emotions that I’ve never felt before,” he told AP in 2018. . You really want to do something like that.


The late Bob Thomas, an Associated Press writer, was a contributor to this report from Los Angeles.