A multi-faceted composer for nearly 70 years, Burt Bacharach’s music has endured through major hits spanning most musical genres, in addition to film scores and more, working with a collection of collaborators, especially the late lyricist Hal David (1921-2012), earlier in his career.
Born Burt Freeman Bacharach on May 12, 1928, in Kansas City, Missouri, Bacharach’s family moved to New York, where he grew up in the Kew Gardens section of Queens. As a teenager, music already animated Bacharach. Influenced by jazz bebop and greats like Charlie Parker, Bacharach who used fake IDs to enter jazz clubs, capturing performances from some of the greats like County Basie and Dizzy Gillespie. Serving in the US Army during the Korean War, music was always with Bacharach, who served as a pianist in officers’ clubs and arranged music for dance bands.
After the army, Bacharach served as bandleader and pianist for singer Vic Damone and from there began working with other artists, later becoming musical director for actress Marlene Dietrich and her stage shows. nightclub, a position that brought him more attention as a songwriter. and music arranger.
By the early ’60s, Bachrach was also showing off his songwriting prowess, penning country-rock hits like Gene Pitney’s “Only Love Can Break A Heart” and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
It was around this time that Bacharach also met David and their relationship with songwriting began. The duo wrote many songs for Dionne Warwick, including 39 hits like “Don’t Make Me Over”, “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” and “Walk On By”. Bacharach also co-wrote Warwick’s 1985 hit ‘That’s What Friends Are For’ with then-wife Carole Bayer Sager, which featured Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight and won a Grammy for the song of the year.
Bacharach and David also wrote for film, including ‘The Look of Love’ for the 1967 spy parody of a James Bond film Casino Royale, which went gold for Dusty Springfield and Sérgio Mendes. The song was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The duo wrote dozens more, including music by Robert Redford from 1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which featured the memorable track “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”, and won it a pair of Oscars and a Grammy for Best Soundtrack for Visual Media.
In the 1980s, Bachrach began writing with Sager, and the pair wrote hits like “Heartlight” for Neil Diamond, Roberta Flack’s “Making Love,” Patti LaBelle’s “On My Own” in 1986, featuring Michael McDonald , and more.
In 1996, Bacharach also received the Johnny Mercer Award, the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s highest honor.
Although his catalog is extensive, here are a handful of songs Bacharach has written for other artists and films over his nearly seven-decade career.
“The Story of My Life”, Marty Robbins (1957)
Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David
Released in 1957 by country singer Marty Robbins, the song reached No. 1 on the US Country chart, where it stayed for four weeks, and No. 15 on the Billboard Top 100. Another version, recorded by the British singer Michael Holliday also reached No. 1. . 1 in the UK The song was eventually ousted from the top spot in the US by Perry Cuomo”magic moments”, also written by Bacharach and David.
“Baby It’s You”, The Shirelles (1961)
Written by Burt Bacharach, Hal David and Barney Williams (Luther Dixon)
Produced by Dixon, who has worked with Elvis Presley, The Beatles, BB King, The Jackson 5, and many more, “Baby It’s You” was recorded by The Shirelles and The Beatles and was a hit for both bands. , as well as another version by the band Smith, which took the song to No. 5 on the US charts. Released in 1961, the Shirelles’ version became a Top 10 hit, peaking at number 8 on the Hot 100 chart.
“What’s up Pussycat?” »Tom Jones (1969)
Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David
Featured in Woody Allen’s 1965 comedy of the same name, also written by Bacharach, “What’s New Pussycat” gave Welsh singer Tom Jones his second Top 40 hit in the US, peaking at No. also was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1966. Over the years, Barbra Streisand, The Four Seasons, The Wailers and many others have covered the song.
“Arthur’s theme (the best you can do)”, off Arthurr Soundtrack (1981)
Written by Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, Christopher Cross and Peter Allen
Performed by singer Christopher Cross, “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” was featured in the Oscar-winning film arthur, starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minelli. The song won the Oscar for Best Original Song and reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. In 2011, Fitz and tantrums recorded their rendition of the song for the 2011 remake of the film.
“I Still Have That Other Girl”, Elvis Costello (1998)
Written by Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello
What started as the couple’s collaboration for the 1996 film Grace of My Heart, turned into a longer collaborative album with the 12 songs of Painted for memory. Although Costello and Bacharach wrote the entire Painted from memory, “I Still Have That Other Girl” is one of the tracks that won a Grammy Award in 1998 for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. Costello, a longtime Bacharach fan, also recorded some of his songs, including “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” and “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself”.
Photo: Eric Ray Davidson/Shore Fire Media