Burt Bacharach, one of the most prolific songwriters of all time, died of natural causes on Wednesday, February 8. He won eight Grammys for music some call “easy listening”—but he had so many major pop hits, his style and influence cannot be reduced to any one genre.
His songs were covered by artists as diverse as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, Elvis Costello, Luther Vandross and The Carpenters. From the 1950s through the 80s, it was almost impossible not to hear one or more of his songs on the radio every day. Bacharach also won three Oscars: two for the soundtrack of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and one for the theme to Arthur (1981)—plus an Emmy for one of his television specials.
His most frequent collaborator artist was, of course, Dionne Warwick, who sang “Don’t Make Me Over,” “Walk On By,” “Do You KNow the Way to San Jose,” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.” This particular combo of singer and songwriter was lightning in a bottle.
Bacharach also created, with writing partner Hal David, some of the most memorable film scores of all time, including the aforementioned Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. The song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” during which Katherine Ross rides a bicycle with Paul Newman in the movie, might be the best-loved scene in the Newman/Robert Redford classic. Bacharach was also introduced to a whole new generation with a cameo befitting his legendary status in 1997’s Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.
Along with composing a vast catalog of colorful songs, Bacharach led a colorful life as well. He was married four times: first, to musician Paula Stewart (1953 to 1958), then to actress Angie Dickinson (1965 to 1981), followed by fellow songwriter Carole Bayer Sager (1982 to 1991)—with whom he won an Oscar for “Arthur’s Theme (The Best That You Can Do.” He is survived by his wife Jane Hanson and two sons.
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign for our newsletters today