RIP | 

Legendary singer-songwriter Burt Bacharach dies aged 94

He had his greatest success while working with Hal David, the lyricist on What the World Needs Now Is Love (1965) and Raindrops (1969), as well as Dionne Warwick, the singer who made Billboard magazine's top-40 singles chart 20 times with the duo's compositions.

Burt Bacharach© PA

David WilsonBloomberg

Burt Bacharach, who became one of the 20th century's most celebrated songwriters with hits such as Walk on By and Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head, has died. He was 94.

He died on Wednesday at home in Los Angeles of natural causes, The Associated Press reported Thursday, citing his publicist Tina Brausam.

Bacharach's combination of pop, jazz, rock and Brazilian music won him Grammy, Oscar and Emmy awards. He had his greatest success while working with Hal David, the lyricist on What the World Needs Now Is Love (1965) and Raindrops (1969), as well as Dionne Warwick, the singer who made Billboard magazine's top-40 singles chart 20 times with the duo's compositions.

After dropping off the charts when his partnership with David ended in 1973, Bacharach rebounded with three No. 1 hits in the 1980s. His popularity grew as Oasis, the White Stripes and other bands paid homage to him. Comedian Mike Myers gave him cameo roles in the Austin Powers movies.

"I'm always amused when people write he's easy-listening," Elvis Costello, who collaborated with him on the 1998 album Painted From Memory, said in a 2002 interview with the Seattle Times.

"Under the surface, it's just raging with feeling. And the words are so perfectly matched to the music."

Burt Bacharach© PA

About 70 recordings of Bacharach's songs made the top 40, including Raindrops, a No. 1 single for B.J. Thomas. Make It Easy on Yourself (1962) was a hit three times, for Jerry Butler, the Walker Brothers and Warwick. Eleven other songs made the charts more than once, including I Say a Little Prayer (1967), a top-10 single for Aretha Franklin as well as Warwick.

Bacharach wrote music for movies with David's help. They won three straight Academy Awards for best song, starting with What's New Pussycat? a No. 3 single for Tom Jones in 1965.

Alfie won the next year, followed by The Look of Love from Casino Royale, a James Bond movie. Bacharach won his first Grammy Award for arranging Alfie.

Raindrops, a song from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, was awarded the 1969 Oscar for best original song. Bacharach received another Oscar, along with a Grammy, for scoring the film. He received a second Grammy that year for co-writing the score of Promises, Promises, a Broadway musical.

In 1970, Bacharach won an Emmy for his work on an episode of the Kraft Music Hall television series.

Burt Freeman Bacharach was born on May 12, 1928, in Kansas City, Missouri, to Bert and Irma Freeman Bacharach. His father was a buyer of men's clothing at the time, and later became a syndicated columnist and author. His mother was a portrait painter who sang and played the piano by ear.

"When I was born, my dad wanted to name me after himself," Bacharach wrote in Anyone Who Had a Heart, a 2013 autobiography. "My mother didn't want to put me through the hassle of being called Bertram, as my dad had been when he was a boy, so they compromised on Burt."

Bacharach grew up in the New York borough of Queens. He began piano lessons at age 8 and later learned the cello and drums. His mother gave him lessons in classical music. He attended McGill University in Montreal without receiving a degree.

After two years in the military, he was signed by Famous Music, one of the largest music publishers, which teamed him with David in 1956.

The duo scored its first successes Magic Moments, recorded by Perry Como, and The Story of My Life, a hit for Marty Robbins before Marlene Dietrich hired Bacharach as her musical director in 1958. He performed in Europe and the US with her for the next three years.

In the early 1960s, Bacharach and David teamed with Warwick. She had top-10 hits with their Do You Know the Way to San Jose, I'll Never Fall in Love Again, Walk on By, and I Say a Little Prayer. Bacharach was her producer.

In 1973, the partnership split. Bacharach and David filed lawsuits against each other. Warwick sued both of them. All the cases were settled. They collaborated in 1993 and again in 2000.

While they were apart, Bacharach had hit songs with other artists. Christopher Cross reached No. 1 in 1981 with Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do), an Oscar-winning song from the movie Arthur that he wrote with Cross, Carole Bayer Sager and Peter Allen.

Two songs co-written with Bayer Sager rose to the top spot in 1986: That's What Friends Are For, which featured Warwick along with Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder, and On My Own, a duet between Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald. The former won the Grammy for song of the year.

Bacharach's album At This Time (2005), four decades after his debut recording, was the first to feature his lyrics. It resulted in his sixth Grammy.

Bacharach received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Grammys' sponsor, in 2008. He and David had previously won the academy's Trustees Award. They were presented with the Gershwin Prize by the Library of Congress in 2012.

Bacharach was married four times. His first wife, Paula Stewart, was a singer. His second marriage, to actress Angie Dickinson, produced his first child, a daughter who died by suicide in 2007 at age 40.

Bayer Sager became his third wife in 1982 and they adopted a son. His fourth wife, Jane Hansen, was a ski instructor whom he married in 1993. She bore him a son and a daughter.

If you have been affected by issues raised in this this story, you can contact Samaritans on 116 123 or email

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