Composer and Oscar winner Burt Bacharach is dead. He died of natural causes at home in Los Angeles on Wednesday, his publicist said. The 94-year-old inspired millions of people with his works. Melodies he created include such tracks as “Walk on By”, “Do You Know the Way to San Jose”.
Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Frank Sinatra covered his songs, among many others. However, his favorite performer was Dionne Warwick. However, Bacharach also wrote for Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones and many other songs that often became hits. Most of the time he worked together with the lyricist Hal David.
Bacharach was both an innovator and a backward-thinker, and his career seemed to run parallel to the rock era. Raised on jazz and classical music, he had little enthusiasm for rock when he entered the business in the 1950s. His sensibilities often seemed closer to Tin Pan Alley than did Bob Dylan, John Lennon and other later emerging writers, but rock composers appreciated the depth of his seemingly old-fashioned sensibility.
“The short version of him is that he has something to do with easy listening,” Elvis Costello, who wrote the 1998 album Painted from Memory with Bacharach, once said of him. “These songs may be pleasant to listen to, but there’s nothing simple about them.”
Bacharach mastered many art forms. He was an eight-time Grammy winner, Broadway award-winning composer for Promises, Promises, and a three-time Academy Award winner. He received two Academy Awards in 1970, for the film score of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and for the song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” (shared with David). In 1982, he and his then-wife, lyricist Carole Bayer Sager, won the Oscar for Best That You Can Do, the theme song to Arthur. His other film scores include What’s New, Pussycat?, Alfie and the 1967 James Bond spoof Casino Royale.
Jazz clubs attracted him
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, he soon moved to New York City. His father was a columnist and his mother a pianist and encouraged the boy to study music. Although he was more interested in sports, he practiced the piano every day after school so as not to disappoint his mother. When he was a minor, he snuck into jazz clubs with a fake ID and listened to the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie.
Bacharach was married to his first wife Paula Stewart from 1953-58 and married a fourth time in 1993 to Jane Hansen. He is survived by Hansen and his children Oliver, Raleigh and Christopher.