American composer, songwriter, record producer, pianist, and singer Burt Freeman Bacharach was born May 12, 1928 in Kansas City Missouri. He grew up in the Forest Hills section of New York City, graduating from Forest Hills High School in 1946. Bacharach showed a keen interest in jazz as a teenager, disliking his classical piano lessons, and often using fake id to gain admission into 52nd Street nightclubs such as Spotlite, and listened avidly to bebop musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Bacharach studied music (Bachelor of Music, 1948) at Montreal’s McGill University, under Helmut Blume, at the Mannes School of Music, and at the Music Academy of the West in Montecito, California where he studied a range of music, including jazz harmony. His composition teachers included Darius Milhaud, Henry Cowell, and Bohuslav Martinů.
Following a tour of duty in the United States Army, Bacharach worked as a pianist, both as a soloist and as an accompanist for singers such as Vic Damone, Polly Bergen, Steve Lawrence, the Ames Brothers and Paula Stewart (who became his first wife). For some years, he was musical arranger for Marlene Dietrich, as well as touring as her musical director. In 1957, Bacharach and lyricist Hal David met each other while at the Brill Building.Almost a year later, they received a significant career breakthrough when their song “The Story of My Life” was recorded by Marty Robbins for Columbia Records, becoming a number 1 hit on the U.S. country music chart and reaching #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1957. Soon afterwards, “Magic Moments” was recorded by Perry Como for RCA Records, and became a number 4 U.S. hit in February of that year. These two songs were back-to-back No. 1 singles in the UK (“The Story of My Life” in a version by Michael Holliday). Bacharach also worked with other lyricists at first, including Bob Hilliard and Hal David’s brother, Mack David. Bacharach’s career was boosted when Calvin Carter,the chief of A&R at Vee-Jay Records, called saying that Jerry Butler wanted to do his song Make it Easy on Yourself.
In the early and mid-1960s, Bacharach wrote well over a hundred songs with David. He produced a number of songs on New York soul singer Lou Johnson, including the original recordings of “Always Something There To Remind Me”, “Kentucky Bluebird (Message To Martha)” and “Reach Out For Me”, but the two were mainly associated throughout the decade with Dionne Warwick, a conservatory-trained vocalist. Bacharach and David started writing a large portion of their work with Warwick in mind, leading to one of the most successful teams in popular music history. He also composed duo work with Marty Robbins, Perry Como, Gene McDaniels, and Jerry Butler. Following the initial success of these collaborations, Bacharach went on to write hits for Gene Pitney, Cilla Black, Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon, Bobbie Gentry, Tom Jones, Herb Alpert, B. J. Thomas, The Carpenters, among numerous other artists. Over a 20-year period, Warwick charted 38 singles co-written or produced by Bacharach and David, including 22 Top 40, 12 Top 20 and nine Top 10 hits on the American Billboard Hot 100 charts. During the early 1960s, Bacharach also collaborated with Bob Hilliard on a number of songs, including “Please Stay” and “Mexican Divorce” for The Drifters, “Any Day Now” for Chuck Jackson, “Tower of Strength” for Gene McDaniels, and “Dreamin’ All the Time” and “Pick Up the Pieces” for Jack Jones. In 1965 Bacharach released his first solo album in 1965 . “Hit Maker! Burt Bacharach Plays His Hits” which included his version of “Trains and Boats and Planes”.
Other singers of Bacharach songs in the ’60s and ’70s included Bobby Vinton (“Blue on Blue”); Dusty Springfield (“The Look of Love” from Casino Royale), (a cover of Dionne Warwick’s “Wishin’ and Hopin’”); Cilla Black (a cover of Dionne Warwick’s “Anyone Who Had a Heart”), the Delfonics, and Cher (“Alfie” – originally recorded by Cilla Black); The Shirelles, The Beatles (“Baby, It’s You”); The Carpenters (“(They Long to Be) Close to You”); Aretha Franklin (“I Say a Little Prayer”); Isaac Hayes (“Walk on By”, from the Hot Buttered Soul album); B. J. Thomas (“Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”, “Everybody’s Out of Town”); Tom Jones (“What’s New Pussycat?”); Engelbert Humperdinck (“I’m a Better Man”); Sandie Shaw (“Always Something There to Remind Me”); Jack Jones (“Wives and Lovers”); Jackie DeShannon (“What the World Needs Now Is Love”); Gene Pitney (“Only Love Can Break a Heart”, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, “24 Hours from Tulsa” and “True Love Never Runs Smooth”); Herb Alpert, (“This Guy’s in Love with You”); Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 (“The Look of Love”); The Stylistics, (“You’ll Never Get To Heaven If you Break My Heart”); Jerry Butler, the Walker Brothers (“Make It Easy on Yourself”); and the Fifth Dimension (“One Less Bell to Answer”).
Many Bacherach songs have been adapted by jazz artists, such as Stan Getz, Cal Tjader and Wes Montgomery. The Bacharach/ David composition “My Little Red Book”, originally recorded by Manfred Mann for the film What’s New Pussycat?, was promptly covered by Love in 1966. Bacharach composed and arranged the soundtrack of the 1967 film Casino Royale, which included “The Look of Love”, performed by Dusty Springfield, and the title song, an instrumental Top 40 single for Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Bacharach and David also collaborated with Broadway producer David Merrick on the 1968 musical Promises, Promises, on the songs Promises Promises and I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”, for Dionne Warwick. In 1969 Bacharach-David collaborated on, the Oscar-winning “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”, from the acclaimed film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The two were awarded a Grammy for Best Cast album of the year for “Promises, Promises” and the score was also nominated for a Tony award. There were other Oscar nominations for Best Song for “The Look Of Love”, “What’s New Pussycat” and “Alfie”. During the 1960s and early 1970s, Bacharach continued to write and produce for artists, compose for stage, TV, and film, and release his own albums. In 1973, Bacharach and David were commissioned to score the disastrous revival of the 1937 film, Lost Horizon and Bacherach and David split acrimoniously. Bacharach tried several solo projects (including the 1977 album Futures). He and David reunited briefly in 1975 to write and produce Stephanie Mills’s second album For the First Time released on Motown Records.
By the early 1980s, Bacharach’s marriage to Angie Dickinson had ended, but a new partnership with lyricist Carole Bayer Sager He collaborated on several major hits during the decade, including “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” (Christopher Cross); “Heartlight” (Neil Diamond); “Making Love” (Roberta Flack); “On My Own” (Patti LaBelle with Michael McDonald), and That’s What Friends Are For” in 1985, which reunited Bacharach and singer Warwick. The profits for the latter song were given to AIDS research. Other artists continued to revive Bacharach’s earlier hits in the 1980s and 1990s such as Luther Vandross’ recording of “A House is Not a Home”; Naked Eyes’ 1983 pop hit version of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me”, and Ronnie Milsap’s 1982 country version of “Any Day Now”. Bacharach continued a concert career, appearing at auditoriums throughout the world, often with large orchestras. He occasionally joined Warwick for sold-out concerts in New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.
In 1990, Deacon Blue released an EP entitled “Four Bacharach & David Songs”, contains the song, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” . In 1996, jazz pianist McCoy Tyner recorded an album of nine Bacharach standards that featured Tyner’s trio with an orchestra arranged and conducted by John Clayton. In 1998, Bacharach co-wrote and recorded a Grammy-winning album with Elvis Costello, Painted from Memory, In 2006, he recorded a jazz album with Trijntje Oosterhuis and the Metropole Orchestra called The Look of Love (Burt Bacharach Songbook) Bacharach collaborated with Cathy Dennis in 2002 to write an original song for the Pop Idol winner Will Young. This was “What’s in Goodbye”, and it appears on Young’s debut album From Now On. In 2002, Young was a guest vocalist at two of Bacharach’s concerts, one at the Hammersmith Apollo and the other at Liverpool Pops.In 2003, he teamed with Ronald Isley to release the album Here I Am, Bacharach also released his 2005 solo album At This Time , Guest stars on the album included Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright, and hip-hop producer Dr. Dre. In 2008 Bacharach opened the BBC Electric Proms at The Roundhouse in London, performing with the BBC Concert Orchestra accompanied by guest vocalists Adele, Beth Rowley and Jamie Cullum. The concert was a retrospective look back at his six-decade career, including classics such as “Walk On By”, “The Look of Love”, “I Say a Little Prayer”, “What the World Needs Now Is Love”, “Anyone Who Had a Heart”, “Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa” and “Make It Easy on Yourself”, featuring Jamie Cullum. In early 2009, Bacharach worked with Italian soul singer Karima Ammar and produced her debut single Come In Ogni Ora.
Bacharach and David were awarded the 2011 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song bestowed by the Library of Congress, the first time that a songwriting team has been given the honor.David died the following year on September 1 at age 91. In 2015, Bacharach performed at the Glastonbury Festival UK and appeared on stage at the Menier Chocolate Factory to launch ‘What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined’,
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Bacharach was featured in a dozen TV musical and variety specials videotaped in the UK for ITC, several were nominated for Emmy awards for direction (by Dwight Hemion). The guests included artists such as Joel Grey, Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick, and Barbra Streisand. Bacharach and David did the score for an original musical for ABC-TV titled On the Flip Side, starring Ricky Nelson as a faded pop star trying for a comeback. In 1969, Harry Betts arranged Bacharach’s instrumental composition “Nikki” (named after Bacharach’s daughter) into a new theme for the ABC Movie of the Week, a TV series which ran on the U.S. network until 1976.During the 1970s, Bacharach and then-wife Angie Dickinson appeared in several TV commercials for Martini & Rossi beverages, Bacharach also occasionally appeared on TV/variety shows, such as The Merv Griffin Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and many others.
During the 1990s and 2000s, Bacharach had cameo roles in Hollywood movies, including all three Austin Powers movies. His music is credited as providing inspiration for these movies, partially stemming from Bacharach’s score for the 1967 James Bond parody film Casino Royale. During subsequent Bacharach concert tours, each show would open with a very brief video clip from the movie Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, with Mike Myers (as Austin Powers) uttering “Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Burt Bacharach.” Bacharach appeared as a celebrity performer and guest vocal coach for contestants on the television show, “American Idol” during the 2006 season. In late 2006, Bacharach appeared as the celebrity in a Geico auto insurance commercial. In 2008, Bacharach featured in the BBC Electric Proms at The Roundhouse with the BBC Concert Orchestra and performed similar shows at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. As of 2014, Bacharach had written 73 US and 52 UK Top 40 hits. His autobiography, Anyone Who Had a Heart, was published in 2013. He lives in Brookville, New York.