Burt Bacharach is one of the most talented popular composers of the 20th century. He was a dominant figure in popular music in the '60s and '70s, amassing a notable 52 hits in the Top 40. In terms of style, Bacharach's songs differed from much of the music of the period. Bacharach's compositions typically boasted catchy melodies, unconventional and changing time signatures, and atypical chords. Combining elements of jazz, pop, Brazilian music and rock, Bacharach created a unique new sound that embodied the era. Hal David, Bacharach's principal collaborator, provided Bacharach's music with lyrics worthy of Tin Pan Alley's finest songwriters. David's unsentimental, bittersweet lyrics often contrasted with Bacharach's soaring melodies. While Bacharach's name had become synonymous with elevator music by the late 1970s (largely due to its sheer familiarity), a closer listen suggests that his carefully crafted, technically sophisticated compositions are anything but easy to listen to.
Burt Freeman Bacharach was born on May 12, 1928 in Kansas City, Missouri. The son of nationally syndicated columnist Bert Bacharach, Burt moved with his family to Kew Gardens in Queens, New York, in 1932. At his mother's urging, he learned cello, drums and piano from the age of 12. Burt hated taking piano lessons. His dream was to play professional football, but his size - or lack thereof - kept him away from that field.
As a teenager, Bacharach fell in love with jazz, sometimes using a fake ID to sneak into 52nd Street nightclubs to see bebop legends like Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Bebop's unconventional harmonies and melodies became a major influence on the young composer.
At the age of 15, Bacharach formed a 10-piece band with schoolmates. With Burt at the piano, the group gained visibility by playing at parties and dances. After graduating from Forest Hills High School, Bacharach enrolled in the music studies program at McGill University in Montreal. That's where Burt says he wrote his first song, "The Night Plane to Heaven."
Bacharach then studied theory and composition at the Mannes School of Music in New York City; at the Berkshire Music Center; and at the New School for Social Research, where he studied with composers Bohuslav Martinu, Henry Cowell, and Darius Milhaud (whose influence on Bacharach's style is evident). He also received a scholarship to the Western Academy of Music in Santa Barbara, California.
From 1950 to 1952, Bacharach served in the army, played the piano in the official club on Governor Island and at concerts in Fort Dix. His performances consisted mainly of improvisations and pop medleys of the time, although he was considered a concert pianist.
While working as an arranger for a Bundeswehr dance band in Germany, Bacharach met the singer Vic Damone. After his release, Bacharach became Damone's piano accompanist at the age of 24. He also worked in nightclubs and restaurants, accompanying artists such as the Ames Brothers, Imogene Coca, Polly Bergen, Joel Grey, Georgia Gibbs, Steve Lawrence and a young singer named Paula Stewart. Bacharach and Stewart married in 1953 (they divorced in 1958).
In 1957, Bacharach first worked with lyricist Hal David (born May 25, 1921), whom he had met when they both worked at the Famous Paramount Music Company in New York's legendary Brill Building. With hits from Marty Robbins ("The Story of My Life," which peaked at No. 15 in 1957) and Perry Como ("Magic Moments," which peaked at No. 8 in 1958), the duo hit gold almost immediately, but their biggest hit together was only to come start a few years later. Also in 1958, Burt scored a new hit with "(Theme From) The Blob" which peaked at #33.
From 1958 to 1961, Burt toured Europe and America as music director for Marlene Dietrich. During this time, three Bacharach-composed songs became big hits: The Drifters' "Please Stay," Gene McDaniel's "Tower of Strength" (lyrics by Bob Hilliard), and The Shirelles' "Baby It's You" (lyrics by Hal Mack's ). Brother David and Barney Williams). All three were recorded in 1961.
In 1962, Bacharach collaborated with lyricist Bob Hilliard on "Any Day Now," which peaked at No. 23 for Chuck Jackson, but his biggest hit came collaborating with Hal David, who co-wrote the No. 4 hit "The Man Who" Shot Liberty Valance inspired by the John Wayne/James Stewart film and second hit Only Love Can Break a Heart. Both were recorded by Gene Pitney. Bacharach & David also had success that year with "Make It Easy On Yourself", by Jerry Butler, which peaked at #20.
Bacharach worked extensively with the Drifters during this period, arranging horns and strings and writing (with Bob Hilliard) the 1961 singles "Mexican Divorce" and "Please Stay" for the group. At a Drifters session, Bacharach met Marie Dionne Warwick (born December 12, 1940 in East Orange, N.J.), a member of the backing vocal group The Gospelaires and niece of singer Cissy Houston. It quickly became apparent that Warwick possessed a remarkable ability to navigate even Bacharach's most difficult melodies and tempos. She began recording demo discs for Bacharach & David, one of which was for Make It Easy On Yourself. Warwick mistakenly believed that "Make It Easy On Yourself" would be her commercial debut, and when the songwriters revealed that the song had been given to Jerry Butler, she angrily replied, "Don't make me, man!" (slang for lie to me not on). Warwick's angry reaction became the seed for his first Top 40 hit, "Don't Make Me Over" in 1962, which peaked at No. 21. Bacharach & David wrote and produced 20 top 40 hits for Warwick over the next 10 years, seven of which reached the top ten: "Anyone Who Had a Heart" (1963), "Walk On By" (1964), "Message to Michael". (1966), I Say a Little Prayer (1967), Do You Know the Way to San Jose (1968), This Girl Is in Love with You (1969) and I'll Never Fall in Love again" (1969)).
In addition to writing and producing albums for Warwick, the Bacharach & David team has also been responsible for hits with other artists including Jackie DeShannon ("What the World Needs Now"), The Fifth Dimension ("One Less Bell to Answer"), Manfred Mann ("My Little Red Book"), Bobby Vinton ("Blue on Blue"), Herb Alpert ("This Guy's in Love With You"), Tom Jones ("What's New, Pussycat?", "Promise Her Anything" ), Jack Jones ("Wives and Lovers"), Dusty Springfield ("The Look of Love") and B.J. Thomas ("Raindrops keep falling on my head"). Other artists took Bacharach's composition to the top of the charts, including the Walker Brothers (whose version of "Make It Easy on Yourself" reached No. 16 in 1965), the Carpenters (whose version of "[They Long to Be] Close to You" reached). No. 1 in 1970) and Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66 (whose version of "The Look of Love" reached No. 4 in 1968).
Through his wife, film star Angie Dickinson (whom he married in 1966 and divorced in 1980), Bacharach switched to film music. His credits include the song Tile to Alfie, a hit by Cilla Black and Dionne Warwick, and soundtracks for the film What's New, Pussycat? introduced "The Look of Love") and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which spawned the #1 hit "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" and earned Bacharach two Academy Awards (Best Original Score and Best Theme Song) and a Grammy for the best score. A lesser-known stage project by Bacharach & David is the television musical On the Flip Side (1966), starring Rick Nelson as the pop star whose glory had faded.
In 1968 producer David Marrick recruited Bacharach & David to work with playwright Neil Simon on a musical version of Billy Wilder's 1960 film The Apartment. The result was the Broadway musical Promises, Promises, which ran for three years and saw 1,281 performances, winning two Tonys and a Grammy for Best Ensemble Recording.
In 1966 the composer became an independent artist. his albumhit maker! Burt Bacharach plays the hits by Burt Bacharach,which featured his own instrumental re-recordings of some of his best-known songs, became a hit in the UK. The album was re-released in America asBurt Bacharach plays his hits.Bacharach released several other collections of his own recordings of his hits includingTo reach(1967),Simplify things for you(1969),Burt Bachach(1971),living together(1973),futures(1977) eFrau(1979), an ambitious song cycle recorded live in the studio with the Houston Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 1973, Bacharach & David were collaborating on a high-profile musical version of the 1937 film Lost Horizon. Producer Ross Hunter's Lost Horizon was a resounding failure with critics and audiences alike. The soundtrack had no significant success (although the cover of 5th Dimension's "Living Together, Growing Together" peaked at number 32) and Bacharach privately complained about the difficulty of working with actors who were not trained singers. In the wake oflost horizon, Bacharach, David, and Warwick went through a bitter professional divorce, with Warwick suing Bacharach and David, David suing Bacharach, and Bacharach opposing David.
In 1975, Bacharach and David wrote and produced the Stephanie Mills album For the First Time, but the new partnership failed to match their earlier success with Warwick.
In 1977 Bacharach released his sixth solo album,futures, and launched in 1979Frau,an ambitious song cycle recorded in a single four-hour session with the Houston Symphony.
In 1979, Bacharach collaborated with Paul Anka on the soundtrack to the Italian film Together?
In 1981, Bacharach returned to the top of the charts with Christopher Cross's "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)" from the filmArthur, which Bacharach also scored. Arthur's Theme earned Bacharach his third Academy Award and also brought him together professionally with lyricist Carol Bayer Sager. The partnership would be fruitful. Bacharach and Sager, who married in 1982 (the couple adopted their only child, Christopher, in 1986), collaborated on hits by Sager (Stronger Than Before, 1981), Roberta Flack (Making Love, 1982), and Dionne Warwick with and Friends ("That's What Friends Are For," 1985), Patty Labelle and Michael McDonald ("On My Own," 1986), and Dionne Warwick and Jeffrey Osborne ("Love Power," 1987). "Arthur's Theme", "That's What Friends Are For" and "On My Own" were #1 hits. Bacharach also scored a big hit around this time with a collaboration with Neil Diamond ("Heartlight" hit #5 in 1982). , and British synth-pop group Naked Eyes put an old Bacharach song back on the charts with their cover of "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me," which peaked at No. 8 in 1983.
In 1982, Bacharach composed the music for Ron Howardsnight shift, which first introduced "That's What Friends Are For" (performed on the Rod Stewart soundtrack) and in 1988 the music for the sequel toArthur,Arthur 2: On the Rocks.
In 1985, Bacharach and Sager composed the title theme for the television seriesLost love finder, which was a minor hit for Dionne Warwick. Bacharach and Sager divorced in 1991.
Bacharach has been an owner and breeder in Thoroughbred racing for over 30 years and his horses have competed in some of the sport's most prestigious events. Burt's Heartlight No. One, a three-year-old filly named for her successful collaboration with Neil Diamond, was the 1983 Champion Thoroughbred and Soul of the Matter was a 1994 and 1995 Breeder's Cup starter. Burt had two Kentucky Derby runners.Soul of the Matter aired in 1994 and Afternoon Deelites aired in 1995.
In 1993, Bacharach emerged from a relatively quiet period in his career with a slew of new projects, most notably a reunion with Hal David and Dionne Warwick on Warwick's song "Sunny Weather Lover".Friends can be loversAlbum. He also wrote two songs for James Ingram'sAlways youAlbums: "This Is The Night" (Bacharach, Ingram, Bettis) and "Sing for the Children" (Bacharach, Ingram, Bettis). Both were produced by Thom Bell. In the same year he wrote "Two Hearts" (White, Bacharach, Bailey) for the album "Earth, Wind and Fire".Millennium. He also wrote "Don't Say Goodbye Girl (Walden, Bacharach, Dakota)" for the Tevin Campbell albumI'm readyim 1993.
During this period, Bacharach also worked with lyricist B.A. Robertson of Mike + the Mechanics in a modern day musical retelling of Snow White that has apparently been shelved.
Bacharach enjoyed a notable resurgence in popularity in the 1990s, with alternative acts such as Pizzicato Five, Oasis, REM, Stereolab, Faith No More, Yo La Tengo, Ben Folds Five, White Stripes and John Zorn each paying homage to Bacharach's job interviews. and through recordings.
Though it grew slowly for a few years, Burt's "comeback" began in earnest in 1995 when he began a collaboration with Elvis Costello on a song for the Allison Anders film Grace of My Heart. , the duo wrote "God Give Me Strength," a haunting ballad that recalled Bacharach's classic work with David and Warwick without resorting to nostalgia. The composition established that Bacharach's talents did not wane over time. The song was nominated for a Grammy and established a partnership between Costello and Bacharach that led to 1998's Painted From Memory, which featured 11 new Bacharach-Costello songs and "God Give Me Strength". The duo embarked on a well-received mini-tour and in February 1999 won a Grammy in the Pop Collaboration with Vocals category for Painted From Memory's "I Still Have That Other Girl."
In January 1996, Burt was the subject of a BBC documentary, Burt Bacharach - This Is Now, which later aired in America on Great Performances. At a London performance at the Royal Festival Hall in June 1996, Oasis' Noel Gallagher joined Burt on stage to sing "This Guy's In Love With You". (A photo of Bacharach appears on the cover of the band's 1994 albumsure maybe). On December 31, 1996, Burt and Dionne Warwick performed a special concert, "Live from the Rainbow Room," which was broadcast on the American Move Classics cable network.
In 1997, Bacharach made a memorable appearance in the Mike Myers film Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, further cementing his reputation with a new generation of fans.
In November 1997, Burt gave a tribute concert at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom. The concert, which was taped by TNT and recorded for CD and video Burt Bacharach: One Amazing Night, featured Bacharach songs sung by stars such as Sheryl Crow, Chrissie Hynde, Mike Myers, Barenaked Ladies, Luther Vandross, David Sanborn and George Duke, All Saints, Wynonna, Elvis Costello, Ben Folds Five, Dionne Warwick and Bacharach himself. Burt Bacharach: One Amazing Night aired on TNT in April 1998.
In November 1998, Rhino Records released The Look of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection, a three-disc anthology of Bacharach's work spanning his entire career, from The Story of My Life (Bacharach's First 40) to God Give Me Strength" from 1998."
In 1998, he and Elvis Costello collaborated on a version of "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" for the soundtrack of the Austin Powers sequel The Spy Who Shagged Me, and the couple also appear in the film. .
In 2000, Burt collaborated with Hal David and Dionne Warwick on two songs for Isn't She Great, a film based on the life of writer Jacqueline Susann.
A Tribute to Burt Bacharach and Hal David, a July 2000 concert at the Royal Albert Hall featuring Bacharach alongside Dionne Warwick, Elvis Costello, Petula Clark and others, was released on CD and DVD in 2001. Jazz singer Diana Krall recorded "The Look of Love" as the title track of her 2001 CD.
A musical based on the song What the World Needs Now by Bacharach and David opened in August 2002 in Sydney, Australia.
In 2002, Bacharach made his third Austin Powers film appearance, appearing as the closing credits in Austin Powers in Goldmember (which also included a version of "Alfie" - recast as "Austin" - sung by Susanna Hoffs) . . Burt also began a collaboration with rapper Dr. Dre composes melodies over drum loops provided by Dre.
In May 2003, The Look of Love, a musical based on the songs of Bacharach & David, opened at the Brooks Atkinson Theater and brought Bacharach's music to Broadway for the first time in 35 years. The show, which Burt was not personally involved with, received poor reviews and ended on June 29.
In July 2003, Bacharach entered Capitol's legendary Studio A and B, home of classic sessions from Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra, to record a CD with vocalist Ron Isley. The result is the DreamWorks Records release, Here I Am, which features Isley's soulful vocals on 11 classic Bacharach compositions as well as two new songs. Produced by Bacharach and featuring new arrangements, Here I Am proves that Bacharach's talent as a composer, producer, conductor and arranger has not waned after 50 years in the business.
In December 2003, a television special, McCormick Present Burt Bacharach: Tribute On Ice, aired on NBC. The special featured world class skaters including Brian Boitano, Ilia Kulik and Nicole Bobek performing live accompanied by Bacharach and singers James Ingram and Michael McDonald.
In November 2005, Bacharach released At This Time, the first solo album to be released under the Bacharach moniker in 26 years. The CD contained musical contributions by Dr. Dre, Chris Botti, Elvis Costello and Rufus Wainwright, but gained even greater fame for his lyrics: it was the first record with lyrics by Bacharach. These lyrics - mostly written in collaboration with Tonio K. - explored political and social issues not usually associated with Bacharach's music, leading some to call it his most political album. The controversy didn't touch the members of the Recording Academy, which awarded At This Time the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album in February 2006. Bacharach was also nominated in the Best Pop Instrumental Performance category for the track "In Our Time," a collaboration with Chris Botti.
In April 2007, Bacharach contributed several songs to New Music From An Old Friend, a CD on 180 Music featuring new compositions and collaborations between legendary songwriters such as Brian Wilson, Kris Kristofferson, Carole King, Paul Williams and Willie Nelson.
In 2012, Bacharach and Hal David received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for lifetime achievement in popular music.