Legendary Pop Composer Burt Bacharach Dies at 94

Burt Bacharach dies
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Burt Bacharach dies
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Photo Credit: Marco Rosanova / CC by 3.0

A dominant force in American pop music for over 50 years, songwriter, composer, and producer Burt Bacharach died of natural causes at age 94.

Legendary songwriter, arranger, composer, and producer Burt Bacharach, a dominant presence in American popular music for over half a century, died of natural causes on Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 94.

Bacharach’s music was synonymous with chart-topping success on the radio, TV, and film. He collected six Grammys as an arranger, performer, and writer between 1967 and 2005 and received nods from the Academy Awards and Golden Globes for his work on “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969) and “Arthur” (1981). He received an Emmy for a TV recital of his work in 1971.

Many of his songs, written with lyricist Hal David, saw massive success, especially with vocalist Dionne Warwick. Only Lennon-McCartney rivaled Bacharach-David in terms of commercial and artistic achievement among songwriting duos of the 1960s.

The pair’s Top 10 collaborations with Dionne Warwick throughout the ’60s included “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” “Message to Michael,” “Walk On By,” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.” Their Top 40 hits written for other singers include Jackie DeShannon’s “What the World Needs Now,” The 5th Dimension’s “One Less Bell to Answer,” and Bobby Vinton’s “Blue On Blue.”

Bacharach’s transition into film soundtrack work was sparked by his wife, actress Angie Dickinson, to whom he was married from 1966-1980. This period of his work included 1965’s What’s New Pussycat featuring Tom Jones’ title track, Manfred Mann’s “My Little Red Book,” and Warwick’s “Here I Am.” Dusty Springfield’s “The Look of Love” featured in the 1967 James Bond parody Casino Royale.

After a falling out with David in 1973 that led to the pair suing one another, Bacharach returned to TV projects and solo recording work. In the ’80s, he began his partnership with lyricist Carole Bayer Sager, to whom he was married from 1981-1992. 

Bacharach made cameo appearances in films throughout the ’90s and ’00s, such as Mike Myers’ Austin Powers and its sequels. The latter films in the series included covers of Bacharach-David’s “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” with Elvis Costello and “Alfie” reimagined as “Austin” with the Bangles’ Susannah Hoffs.

In 1972, Bacharach and David were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. They received the Recording Academy’s Trustees Award for their contributions as writers in 1997. They became the first songwriting team to be honored with the Library of Congress’ George & Ira Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2011.

Bacharach continued to make concert appearances internationally throughout his later life. His theatrical work in his later career included “New York Animals,” with music by Bacharach, which opened Off-Broadway at the New Ohio Theater in 2015.