Burt Bacharach dies aged 94: Composer behind hits like I Say A Little Prayer and Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head | Ents & Arts News

Burt Bacharach, one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century, has died aged 94.

The American musician composed more than 500 songs during his career and was behind hits such as I Say A Little Prayer, Walk On By, Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head and Do You Know The Way To San Jose.

Bacharach had written for stars such as Dionne Warwick, Cilla Black, Tom Jones and Dusty Springfield, and provided a mellow alternative soundtrack to rock and roll in the 1960s and 1970s.

Photo: Dezo Hoffman/Shutterstock
Photo: Dezo Hoffman/Shutterstock

His music featured quirky arrangements and memorable melodies, and more than 1,200 artists performed his songs.

Bacharach won six Grammys, including a lifetime achievement award, and three Academy Awards during his seven-decade career.

He died of natural causes at his home in the Los Angeles area on Wednesday with his family by his side.

Earning comparisons to American greats George Gershwin and Cole Porter, Bacharach began his songwriting career in the early 1950s, working with Hollywood star Marlene Dietrich, before establishing a professional relationship with lyricist Hal David in 1957.

But when Bacharach and David met Dionne Warwick in 1961, their talents really took off, with 39 of her chart hits written by the pair.

Singer Noel Gallagher was among those to pay tribute, writing on Instagram: “RIP Maestro. It was a pleasure to meet you.”

‘Innovative and original’

“I’m a person who always tries to deal with melody,” Bacharach said of his musical talents.

David once told an interviewer: “He was just different. Innovative, original. His music spoke to me. I heard his melodies and I heard lyrics. I heard rhymes, I heard thoughts, and you hear it almost immediately.”

Performing in concerts around the world late in his career, Bacharach had fans across generations thanks to the revival of lounge music in the 1990s.

Remixes and samples of his work kept him in the public consciousness long after he stopped churning out hits, as did the use of many of his Hollywood tunes as soundtracks for his films.

Despite being crowned the king of easy listening, his fans would argue that his use of mixed meters and complex melodies made his compositions anything but ‘easy’.

File photo dated 22/10/08 Burt Bacharach performs with the BBC Concert Orchestra, to launch the BBC Electric Proms series, at the Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, north London.  Composer Burt Bacharach, whose instrumental pop style was behind hits such as I Say A Little Prayer, has died aged 94.  Issue date: Thursday, February 9, 2023.
Burt Bacharach performs with the BBC Concert Orchestra

Later collaborations with stars as diverse as Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello and Dr Dre, as well as a Pyramid Stage performance at Glastonbury Festival in 2015, proved that Bacharach never went out of style.

Bacharach tweeted about his performance in Toledo with Costello three days before he died.

On his Instagram page, tributes were paid to Baharah as a “father, husband and friend”.

He continued: “He gave so much to the world and we are eternally grateful. The music is always there, so keep listening.”

Bacharach was married four times – the last time was in 1993 to his surviving wife Jane Hansen, and they had two children together.

Burt Bacharach and Jane Hansen in 2013. Photo: Rob Latour/Shutterstock
Burt Bacharach and wife Jane Hansen. Photo: Rob Latour/Shutterstock

“A great inspiration”

More tributes poured in on social media, with The Charlatans singer Tim Burgess writing: “One of the greatest songwriting legacies of all time. Goodbye Burt Bacharach, you were a king.”

Journalist Tony Parsons tweeted: “If Elvis gave music its body and Dylan gave music its mind, then the beautiful Bart Bacharach gave music its grace, elegance and class.”

Dave Davies, guitarist for The Kinks, wrote that it was a “very sad day”.

He added: “[Burt] he was probably one of the most important songwriters of our time. It was a great inspiration.”

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