Burt Bacharach, widely considered to be one of the greatest songwriters of all time, has died at the age of 94, it’s been confirmed.
Bacharach will be best remembered for his collaborations with lyricist Hal David, who he met at the legendary Brill Building in 1957. The pair found success almost immediately, scoring UK number ones with The Story of My Life (sung by Marty Robbins for the US release and Michael Holliday in the UK) and Perry Como’s version of Magic Moments.
The duo went on to pen a string of hits with songs that have now become standards: I Say a Little Prayer (Aretha Franklin), The Look Of Love (Dusty Springfield), What’s New Pussycat? (Tom Jones), Make It Easy On Yourself (The Walker Brothers) and many more.
Bacharach and David enjoyed a particularly fruitful relationship with Dionne Warwick, whose hits included Walk On By, Anyone Who Had a Heart and Do You Know The Way to San Jose?, and won an Oscar For Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, which featured in 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Bacharach and David’s relationship ended in 1973, following the failure of their musical version of 1937 movie Lost Horizon, and their relationship with Warwick also soured. Bacharach and Warwick would reunite in 1985, though, on That’s What Friends Are For, a charity record that also featured Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder and hit number one in the US.
If Bacharach’s style of jazz-infused, deceptively complex easy listening fell slightly out of favour after that, it twinkled back into life in the ‘90s when Mike Myers featured Bacharach in his 1997 movie Austin Powers (International Man of Mystery). A new generation was introduced to his songs, and Bacharach went on to record an album of fresh material with Elvis Costello, Painted from Memory, which bore the sonic hallmarks of his golden era.
Bacharach continued to write and perform well into the 21st century, releasing a new album, At This Time, in 2005, on which he wrote the lyrics. There was also a memorable appearance at the Glastonbury Festival in 2015.
Fellow musicians have been paying tribute to Bacharach on social media - here's what some of them have had to say.
I’m so sad to hear about Burt Bacharach. Burt was a hero of mine and very influential on my work. He was a giant in the music business. His songs will live forever. Love & Mercy to Burt’s family. pic.twitter.com/yYGY3bGNSwFebruary 9, 2023
RIP BURT BACHARACH XFebruary 9, 2023
One of the greatest songwriting legacies in the history of ever. Farewell Burt Bacharach, you were a king pic.twitter.com/c5FCijQWb9February 9, 2023
Very sad day, probably one of the most influential songwriters of our time. He was a great inspiration . Rest in peace Burt Bacharach #burtbacharach https://t.co/BgZaJAk5qQFebruary 9, 2023
We have lost an absolute musical MAESTRO in Burt Bacharach. His protean partnership with Hal David reshaped Pop as we know it. Their combination of precision & pathos influenced an extraordinary array of artist/composers - from Wonder to Costello to Ocean.🌹February 9, 2023
Burt Bacharach… What a loss but what a treasure of amazing songs he’s left us. His work with Hal David, Carole Bayer Sager and others, share an effortless combination of simplicity & sophistication. Walk On By? That’s What Friends Are For? Alfie? This Guy’s In Love With You? WOWFebruary 9, 2023