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09 February 2023

Burt Bacharach, Songwriting Great, Dies Aged 94

Burt Bacharach
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Burt Bacharach died of natural causes in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The all-time great songwriter, composer, producer and arranger was 94. Bacharach’s publicist Tina Brausam revealed the news today (9 February).

The songs Bacharach wrote with lyricist Hal David rank among some of the most beloved in US pop music, particularly those sung by vocalist Dionne Warwick. Among 60s songwriting duos, only Lennon-McCartney rivalled Bacharach-David in terms of commercial and artistic achievement. Bacharach collected six Grammys as a writer, arranger and performer from 1967-2005.

Bacharach and David’s classic collaborations included Anyone Who Had a Heart, Walk on By, I Say a Little Prayer, What’s New Pussycat?, Make It Easy On Yourself, Message to Michael, Do You Know the Way to San Jose, This Girl’s in Love With You (previously a gender-swapped No 1 hit for Herb Alpert) and I’ll Never Fall in Love Again, among many more. Warwick also interpreted Bacharach and David’s theme song for the 1968 Michael Caine film Alfie.

Bacharach had a parallel career as a composer of film scores. He was recognised by the Academy Awards and Golden Globes for his work on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and Arthur (1981). He collected a 1971 Emmy for a TV recital of his work.

Bacharach enjoyed a renaissance in the 90s. The jazz pianist McCoy Tyner recorded an entire album of Bacharach’s music in 1997. The next year, Bacharach shared with Elvis Costello a Grammy for best pop vocal collaboration for the song I Still Have That Other Girl, from their collaborative album Painted From Memory. The following decades saw Bacharach collaborate with artists as diverse as Ronald Isley, Adele, Dr Dre, Rufus Wainwright and Sheryl Crow. In 2015, Bacharach performed to an adoring crowd at the Glastonbury festival, underlining the timelessness of his songs.

President Barack Obama awarded Bacharach and David the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2012, the year that David died.

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