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Overview for Burt Bacharach
Burt Bacharach

Burt Bacharach



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Also Known As: Burt F. Bacharach,Burt F. Bacharach Died:
Born: May 12, 1928 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Kansas City, Missouri, USA Profession: Music ... songwriter producer arranger composer pianist entertainer race horse owner


Following his discharge from the Army, Burt Bacharach first served as Vic Damone's accompanist before later working with such performers as the Ames Brothers, Imogene Coca, Joel Grey and Paula Stewart (his first wife), but his career did not take off until he met lyricist Hal David one day in 1957 at the historic Brill Building in NYC. Within a year, the pair had their first Number 1 hit, the country tune "The Story of My Life" (1957), recorded by Marty Robbins, which they followed with Perry Como's "Magic Moments" (1958). Bacharach gained considerable attention touring Europe and America as musical director for Marlene Dietrich from 1958 to 1961 and then worked extensively with the Drifters, arranging horn and string parts and collaborating with lyricist Bob Hilliard on their 1961 singles "Mexican Divorce" and "Please Stay." After meeting a backup singer named Dionne Warwick, whose voice seemed particularly well-suited to his music, Bacharach began writing songs with David by day and recording them with Warwick until 2 AM. The Bacharach-David-Warwick triumvirate would go on to have 39 chart records in 10 years, beginning with "Don't Make Me Over," which climbed to Number 21 in 1962. Eight of them would make it into the Top 10, and though Warwick has sang Bacharach infrequently since the early 70s, she remains the chief interpreter of his work.

Bacharach-David tunes began to adorn films beginning with "Lizzie" and "The Sad Sack" (both 1957). Though they provided memorable title songs for 1966's "Alfie" (sung by Cher) and "The Owl and the Pussycat" (1970), for which Bacharach also composed the score, they gained perhaps their greatest acclaim (filmwise), winning two Oscars for their work on "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969), which included the infectious "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head." At the same time, the Bacharach-David musical "Promises, Promises," based on the 1960 Billy Wilder movie "The Apartment" and featuring the hit "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," had begun its three year run on Broadway, earning a 1969 Grammy for Best Score From an Original Cast Album. That same year, he also earned a second Grammy for Best Original Score Written for Motion Picture or Television ("Butch Cassidy"). The score for "Lost Horizon" (1973) signaled the end of his most prolific songwriting period, and he withdrew exhausted to a beach house, alienating both David and Warwick.

Bacharach's marriage to second wife Angie Dickinson did not survive the period of relative inactivity that ensued, and his relationship with next wife lyricist Carole Bayer Sager mixed romance and art. They wrote (along with Peter Allen and Christopher Cross) the Oscar-winning theme for "Arthur" (1981), and the following year, Ron Howard's "Night Shift" introduced "That's What Friends Are For." Old friend Dionne Warwick and a few friends (like Gladys Knight) scored a Number 1 hit in 1985 with the song, which served as a rallying cry for AIDS awareness and brought Bacharach his last Grammy to date. The 90s have seen a resurgence of vintage Bacharach as a new generation led by the likes of Oasis' Noel Gallagher and REM's Michael Stipe have discovered his music and paid homage to him in interviews and through recordings. Elvis Costello co-wrote with Bacharach (via fax and answering machine) the show-stopper "God Give Me Strength" for Allison Anders' "Grace of My Heart" (1996), and five classic Bacharach-David tunes brightened the film comedy "My Best Friend's Wedding" (1997). Though "Promises, Promises" proved too dated to revive, it has been staged at NYC's "Encores!" and L.A.'s "Reprise! Broadway's Best in Concert" Director-choreographer Gillian Lynne conceived "What the World Needs Now" (1998) a stage musical combining Bacharach-David songs with a book by Kenny Solms telling a 90s romance story.

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