Burt Bacharach dies at 94.
Legendary American pop composer Burt Bacharach, whose prolific output provided a chart-topping playlist for the 1960s and 70s with hits like "I Say a Little Prayer," has died in Los Angeles aged 94, US media said Thursday.
Bacharach worked with stars such as Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield and Tom Jones and also wrote hits such as "Walk On By" and "Do You Know the Way to San Jose."
Bacharach, who died on Wednesday of natural causes, was known for romantic and melancholic ballads crossing the border between jazz and pop, and regularly topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
A pianist passionate about jazz, he was born on May 12, 1928 in Kansas City, Missouri, and studied the art of composition in several American universities.
After his military service, he was hired by Marlene Dietrich as an arranger and musical director for her tours.
In 1957, he met lyricist Hal David, who died in 2012, with whom he would form one of the most successful partnerships in the music industry.
Four years later, they would discover during a recording session a young chorus girl who will become their standard bearer: Dionne Warwick.
Between 1962 and 1968, they wrote 15 titles that rose into the American Top 40.
The songwriting duo was also acclaimed by Hollywood. In 1970, they won two Oscars for the music of the film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and the original song "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head."
In 1973, a financial dispute broke out between the two men. For ten years, they spoke only through lawyers and never worked together again.
Here is a list of his most famous songs and I bet you start to hum each one in turn...
'The Look of Love'
Bacharach wrote this with Hal David, and it was used in the 1967 James Bond spoof Casino Royale and made famous by Dusty Springfield. According to Bacharach, the melody of the song was inspired by watching Ursula Andress in an early cut of the film. The song was later nominated for an Oscar.
'Make It Easy on Yourself' Bacharach and David wrote this song in the early 1960s, and Jerry Butler first had a hit with it in 1962. Dionne Warwick actually recorded the first demo (and eventually a hit with it in 1970), and Butler said of her version: "Man, it's a great song, and the girl who's singing it, and the arrangement, is a hit." The Walker Brothers went on to score their biggest hit with a cover version three years later.
'Magic Moments' Written in 1957, this was one of Bacharach and David's first ever songs together. Perry Como scored the most famous version of it a year later, achieving his biggest UK hit with a number one single. And we'll never forget that Quality Street advert.
'I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself' Tommy Hunt first recorded this Bacharach/David song, before Dusty Springfield scored the biggest hit with it in 1964. It has been recorded by many artists since, including Dionne Warwick and a hard rock version by The White Stripes.
'Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head' Bacharach and David won an Oscar for this song, after its use in the 1969 classic movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The song was recorded by BJ Thomas in seven takes for the movie, after Bacharach wasn't happy with the first six. In the film version of the song, Thomas had been recovering from laryngitis, making his voice sound hoarser than on the single version. In the UK, it was actually Sacha Distel's cover in 1970 that proved to be more popular.
'I'll Never Fall in Love Again' This Bacharach/David song was written for the 1968 musical Promises, Promises, and has been covered by many artists ever since. In 1969, the most popular version was by Burt's protege Dionne Warwick, while Bobbie Gentry's version topped the UK charts. Other famous versions include Johnny Mathis, Deacon Blue, Carpenters, and Ella Fitzgerald. Bacharach revisited the song as a duet with Elvis Costello for the Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack in 1999.
'Anyone Who Had a Heart'
Dionne Warwick scored a big hit with this Bacharach/David ballad in 1963, but only in the States. In the UK, it lost out to Cilla Black's cover version, which proved to be far popular at the time, reaching number one and selling nearly a million copies. Dionne was apparently rather peeved with Cilla's version beating hers in the UK, with Cilla later saying: "It was a no. 1; Dionne was dead choked and she's never forgiven me to this day."
'Arthur's Theme' Burt Bacharach shared another Oscar for this song, which was performed by Christopher Cross for the comedy movie Arthur starring Dudley Moore. The song was written as a collaboration between Cross, Bacharach, and Bacharach's frequent writing partner and then wife Carole Bayer Sager. A fourth writing credit went to Liza Minnelli's ex-husband Peter Allen, as the line "When you get caught between the moon and New York City" was taken from an unreleased song Allen and Bayer Sager had previously written together.
'On My Own' Written and produced by Bacharach and his former wife Carole Bayer Sager, it was first recorded by Dionne Warwick, but she decided not to release it. A year later, Patti Labelle recorded it as a duet with Michael McDonald, and it became a huge number one hit in the US.
'Close to You' Richard Chamberlain first recorded this Burt Bacharach and Hal David ballad in 1963, but it was not a hit. Dionne Warwick (again) also released it as an album track a year later. But it wasn't until the Carpenters covered it in 1970 that it became a massive hit, and the duo's breakthrough. Herb Alpert had first been offered it, but he was not a fan of his own version.
'I Say a Little Prayer' Perhaps Aretha's most famous song, it was actually first recorded by, you guessed it, Dionne Warwick, a year before. Written by Bacharach and David to convey a woman's concern for her lover who's serving in the Vietnam War, Aretha only ended up recording it after singing it for fun one day in the studio with backing singers The Sweet Inspirations.
'Walk on By' This is arguably Dionne Warwick's signature song, and the same goes for Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Amazingly, it was only a B-side to another single, and it was down to a local New York DJ who preferred it, which may have saved her career after a string of unsuccessful singles.
JB COMMENTS: I was raised with music like this and it soon became part of our culture to hum his songs that everyone knew. Music is the language of God, or so they say, and to leave such a legacy of songs that will last forever is astounding. Music these days is very different in many ways and even the singers sing differently to how they did ' back then' and while everything goes full circle and will reappear again in the future, music is music and whatever style, is loved.
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