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Burt Bacharach

With a hit-single track record spanning four decades, Burt Bacharach became one of the most important composers of popular music in the 20th century, almost equal to such classic tunesmiths as George Gershwin or Irving Berlin. His sophisticated yet breezy productions borrowed from cool jazz, soul, Brazilian bossa nova, and traditional pop to virtually define and undoubtedly transcend the staid forms of Brill Building adult pop during the 1960s.

Born May 12, 1928, in Kansas City, he studied cello, drums, and piano as a child, and was later transplanted to New York City by his father, a syndicated columnist. The time spent in New York gave him a chance to sneak into clubs to watch his bebop heroes Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker; he also played in several jazz bands during the 1940s. Bacharach studied music theory and composition at the Mannes School in New York, at Berkshire Music Center, at the New School for Social Research (with Darius Milhaud), at Montreal's McGill University, and at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA. A period in the Army interrupted his concentration of music study, but even while serving in Germany, Bacharach arranged and played piano for a dance band. He also played in nightclubs and backed Steve Lawrence, the Ames Brothers, and Paula Stewart. Bacharach was discharged in 1952, and he married Stewart on December 22nd of the following year.

On returning to the U.S., he began writing songs for Lawrence, Patti Page, the Ames Brothers, and others, but his first hit came from Marty Robbins in late 1957 when Robbins took "The Story of My Life" to the American Top 20 and the number one spot in England. The single was also notable for its co-composer, Hal David, who became Bacharach's songwriting partner and collaborated on most of his big hits. The Bacharach/David team followed up in January 1958 with Perry Como's "Magic Moments," another U.K. chart-topper and a Top Five entry in America. Bacharach's marriage dissolved in 1958, and he left for Europe to tour with Marlene Dietrich. He returned in 1961, and wrote several songs for the Drifters with Bob Hilliard (including "Mexican Divorce" and "Please Stay") before reuniting with Hal David. At an arranging session, he found the singer who became the ultimate vehicle for his songs: Dionne Warwick who was working as a member of the Drifters' backup vocal group, the Gospelaires.

By late 1962, Bacharach and David began focusing most of their composing energy on Warwick, who was the recipient of 15 Top 40 singles from 1962 to 1968 (including the Top Tens "Anyone Who Had a Heart," "Walk on By," "Message to Michael," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Valley of the Dolls," and "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?"). The duo also remained dominant in England, where Frankie Vaughan, Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw, the Walker Brothers, and Herb Alpert all hit number one with Bacharach/David compositions. As if their schedule wasn't busy enough throughout the '60s, the songwriters contributed film scores for What's New Pussycat?, Alfie, and Casino Royale. The film featuring their most celebrated score, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), won Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Theme Song for "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" (plus two non-musical Academy Awards). Bacharach and David began working on the musical Promises, Promises in the late '60s; it won a Tony and a Grammy Award (for cast album) during a popular three-year Broadway run. Bacharach hit the charts himself in 1969, with the show's "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" reaching the Top 100. Surprisingly, this was not his only foray into recording; Bacharach had reached number four in the U.K. charts in May 1965 with "Trains and Boats and Planes," and he released several popular solo albums during the late '60s.

The beginning of the '70s looked bright for Burt Bacharach, as the Carpenters took "(They Long to Be) Close to You" to number one in the U.S. in July 1970. The forecast was premature, though, as three of his closest partners -- Hal David, Dionne Warwick, and his second wife Angie Dickinson -- left him. He gathered several accolades for an eponymous 1971 album featuring renditions of his previous hit compositions, but later albums were disappointing and Bacharach's next hit was over a decade in coming. Finally in 1981, he collaborated with Christopher Cross, Carole Bayer Sager, and Peter Allen on the Oscar-winning "Arthur's Theme." Bacharach married Bayer Sager just one year later, and together they wrote Roberta Flack's Top 20 hit "Making Love," as well as "Heartlight" which Neil Diamond took to number five.

Once Bacharach resumed composing he began to hit, and 1986 was one of his finest years, with two American number ones: "That's What Friends Are For" (by an all-star group including Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder) and a duet by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald titled "On My Own." He divorced Sager in 1991, but worked with Dionne Warwick again two years later on "Sunny Weather Love," from her Friends Can Be Lovers album. Also in 1993, Bacharach contributed songs to James Ingram, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Tevin Campbell. Around the same time, many alternative bands began name-checking the hitmaker as an influence, and Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher joined him on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall as well as including a picture of him on the cover of Oasis' Definitely Maybe. BBC-TV focused on Bacharach in a January 1996 documentary, and a three-disc retrospective of his compositions was released by Rhino in 1998. That same year he collaborated with Elvis Costello on the acclaimed Painted From Memory, and was celebrated at an all-star concert at Radio City Music Hall which later formed the basis for the LP One Amazing Night. The 2005 album At This Time found Bacharach writing lyrics for the first time. Tonio K helped with the lyrics, Elvis Costello, Dr. Dre, Chris Botti, and Rufus Wainwright also contributed to the album. ~ John Bush
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best Of Burt Bacharach

1. The Look Of Love

2. Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

3. This Guy's In Love

4. I'll Never Fall In Love Again

5. Do You Know The Way To San Jose

6. What The World Needs Now Is Love

7. Alfie

8. (They Long To Be) Close To You

9. I Say A Little Prayer

10. One Less Bell To Answer

11. Reach Out For Me

12. Don't Make Me Over

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Track List: Burt Bacharach's Greatest Hits

1. I'll Never Fall In Love Again

2. Make It Easy On Yourself

3. This Guy's In Love With You

4. Reach Out For Me

5. The Look Of Love

6. What The World Needs Now Is Love

7. I Say A Little Prayer

8. Alfie

9. Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head

10. Wives And Lovers

11. (They Long To Be) Close To You

12. Living Together, Growing Together

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Track List: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid

1. The Sundance Kid

2. Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head (Vocal B. J. Thomas)

3. Not Goin' Home Anymore

4. South American Getaway

5. Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head (Instrumental)

6. On A Bicycle Built For Joy (Vocal B. J. Thomas)

7. Come Touch The Sun

8. The Old Fun City

9. Not Goin' Home Anymore Reprise

x

Track List: Reach Out

1. Reach Out For Me

2. Alfie

3. Bond Street

4. Are You There (With Another Girl)

5. What The World Needs Now Is Love

6. The Look Of Love

7. A House Is Not A Home

8. I Say A Little Prayer

9. The Windows Of The World

10. Lisa

11. Message To Michael

x

Track List: At This Time

1. Please Explain

2. Where Did It Go?

3. In Our Time

4. Who Are These People?

5. Is Love Enough?

6. Can't Give It Up

7. Go Ask Shakespeare

8. Dreams

9. Danger

10. Fade Away

11. Always Taking Aim

Comments

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Sooo beautiful , love this song !!!! ❤️❤️❤️
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Danny
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Yeah
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Beautiful , ❤️❤️❤️❤️
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jim.meta
Such a beautiful song,reminds of me of so many happy memories.
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paris2662
I love his music it is timeless
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le61robinson
Burt and Warwick--inc r e d i b l e together. Impossible to listen to Walk on By and not start swaying...
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All time favorite movie(Arthur ) and song!!!!
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Thi is a magnicent colloboratio n .
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❤❤❤❤❤
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❤️
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I so love the magical genius of Burt Bacharach ♥️♥️❤️
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I along w/ everyone else am amazed by the never-ending list of influence by this great composer.
Love this song and the subtle but remarkable trumpet solo.
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gary.jsam
What a women a great voice and a great rifle.
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His music has been in my life since I was young. Love real music that makes a statement and stays with your heart.
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This is Jackie DeShannon singing!
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pastorron
Yeah! Burt & Hal David wrote some true gems. A dynamic duo - without a doubt. Love the White House Tribute.
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Absolutely the best modern day composer.
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i love Burt Bacharach . pure musical genius.
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Burt Bacharach... c a n ' t begin to express the way his music moves me or the place it has in my life and memories...a s I see many others have the same reaction. The greatest songwriter throughout the best era for popular music ever. I miss this genre and music like this. So glad I experienced it firsthand.
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dekane54
Burt Bacharach made me very happy to live in a generation that I am living because he is fabulous and I appreciate his music so so much I sing along all the time! I sure would like to sing with him at the piano someday.
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Burt Bacharach's music is the music of my life - he's my hero. What a romantic. When I was young, he opened a restaurant and inn near my home in Oyster Bay/East Norwich. We felt as though he was our own. He is such a great talent with such a beautiful unforgetable repetoire. Love him!
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Now that is talent. Sure miss this genre.
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GRANDE PER SEMPRE , BURT BACHARACH ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
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I remember hearing her what a gift from our creater
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I never realised what an amazing influence this guy had on music over the years!
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Sing it Dionne great sounds.
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One of the best composers of all times. He wrote songs that became part of many lives. A much better time for music versus today.
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VIVA BACHARACH ! ! ! ! !
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I'll never fall in love again...Clas s i c : )
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Amazing composer, Love all his music, Yes indeed they don't make them like they used to in America. and Prissy, Yes that would be indeed a great night.
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jmisuraca611 0 3
Virtuoso!!!
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BACHARACH , sempre meraviglioso ! ! ! ! ! GRAZIE , PANDORA !
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There's no other music than that of Senor Burt. The songs come for the heart and are all inspiring as life continues on ...
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BACHARACH !!!!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! VIVA VIVA ! ! !
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MERAVIGLIOSO !!!!!!!!!!!! ! ! B A C H A R A C H !!!!!!!!!!!!
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Saw him at Pine Knob years ago with another gentleman whose name I can't remember...c a n anyone help?
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What the world needs now...is love, sweet love..No, not just for some but for everyone..Th i s message resonates today stronger than ever..We need more Protest Folk songwriters to spek the truth
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Free suggestion to American Idol producers: Let's have Burt Bacharach song night! Would love to hear a contestant try to audition to one of his songs!! sigh..I know call me old fashioned!.. I can still dream..
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Dusty Springfield. TALK about sexy ! I adore YOU BABY
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It's the MAKE me happy Song!
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He Produced Some Of The Most Beautiful Classic Music:)
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I absolutely love this song is my favorites of favorites. Burt I love you. Linda
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Let's go to farrells and get ice cream after butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid movie
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AM Radio. No explanation. Thank you.
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Love that trumpet coda at the end of Raindrops.
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classic ..Love this song...
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Love it!
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The elevator music of my lifetime. I mean that as a complement. These songs had legs. I'm thinking of Aretha Franklin's Say a Little Prayer and Isaac Hayes' Walk On By.
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I saw Jackie Deshannon in a little concert near Castle SHANNON Pa. when she 1st came out with the song What the World Needs Now is Love
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