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by Andrew Isaacson
posted 14/02/2023

Remembering Burt Bacharach, Legendary American Composer & Songwriter

Burt Bacharach performed at Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Pilton, England back in 2015. Photo: Dylan Martinez/Reuters/The Guardian

Burt Freeman Bacharach, born in Kansas City, Missouri, had early aspirations of playing professional football. 

But instead he devoted his childhood learning how to play the cello, drums and piano.

He became extremely passionate about jazz. Bacharach at 15 would use a fake ID to get into 52nd Street nightclubs to see bebop icons Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker after his family moved to Queens, New York City. 

Bacharach played in numerous jazz bands throughout the 1940s. From 1950-1952, while stationed in Germany, he played the piano for officers at army bases during his two-year stint in the Army. 

The unique bebop harmonies and melodies is what helped influence Bacharach to become one of the greatest and most important composers, songwriters and pianists of the 20th century. 

The world renowned American songwriter died at the age of 94 on Feb. 8 in Los Angeles of natural causes. 

“He gave the world so much, and we are eternally grateful,” his team said on Instagram. “The music is always there, so please keep listening. We send our love from team Bacharach, because that’s what friends are for.” 

Bacharach won six Grammys and three Oscars, and recorded 73 top 40 hits in the US and 52 in the UK throughout his illustrious career. His songs have been recorded by over 1,000 different artists which combine elements from jazz, pop, soul and rock and roll. 

Some of his most famous songs he wrote included “I Say A Little Prayer,” “Walk on By” and “What the World Needs Now.” 

Bacharach, along with famous lyricist Hal David, joined forces with the great Dionne Warwick to write a few of her greatest hits including “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.” 

He wrote songs for Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield and Tom Jones and worked with Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Elvis Costello and Carly Simon. Many of his songs were covered by Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Frank Sinatra. 

He composed “This Guy’s In Love With You,” in 1982 for The Reels, the prominent Australian rock band that formed in the late 1970s. 

He also created the movie soundtracks for “What’s New, Pussycat?” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” 

In 2012, Bacharach and David were presented with the Gershwin Prize by then US President Obama. 

Bacharach leaves behind Jane Hansen, his fourth wife and his children, Olivier, Christopher and Raleigh. His fourth child, Nikki, committed suicide at the age of 40 in 2007. 

Warwick said losing Bacharach is “like losing a family member.” 

“My heartfelt condolences go out to his family letting them know he is now peacefully resting and I too will miss him,” she said.