Publicist Tina Brausam said on Thursday that Oscar-winning composer Burt Bacharach had passed away on Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles.
The composer of such classics as “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” and “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” allegedly passed away of natural causes with his loved ones by his side. He was just different, Hal David, a longtime partner and songwriter, said in an interview. “Ingenious, unconventional. My soul was touched by his songs. I could pick up on his harmonies and lyrics. I could hear the rhythms and the concepts very instantly.”
Bacharach composed approximately 500 songs, 30 of which were top 40 successes in the ’60s, and his work has been covered by over 1,200 musicians.
The likes of Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, and Tom Jones were among the stars he collaborated with.
A number of other famous musicians have also covered his songs, including Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and Frank Sinatra, while more contemporary acts like the White Stripes, Twista, and Ashanti have sampled his work as well.
After his birth in Kansas City, Missouri in 1928, Bacharach and his family relocated to New York, where he was inspired to take up the piano by his musician mother.
Years later, he was accepted to study at McGill University’s prestigious music conservatory.
From 1950 to 1952, he served in the United States Army, but instead of being sent to Korea, he performed the piano at officers’ clubs around the country.
Working together with Hal David was the key to the duo’s success. He received three Academy Awards, including one for his score of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1970, and eight Grammys for his Broadway works.
However, in 1973 they had a falling out about money, and they never worked together again. After reconciling, Bacharach remarked that David’s lyrics were like watching a little film. David passed away in 2012.
Bacharach has been welcomed to the White House by Democratic and Republican presidents alike. Former President Barack Obama honoured him with the Gershwin Prize in 2012. During a campaign appearance, Obama notably sang a little snippet of Bacharach’s Walk on By.
He promised he would keep composing music forever, in the firm belief that powerful music can change the world.
Bacharach told the Associated Press in 2018 that “music soothes the heart, makes you feel something if it’s excellent, brings in emotion that you might not have felt before.”
Bacharach is survived by his fourth wife, singer/songwriter Jane Hansen, and their three children: Oliver, Raleigh, and Cristopher.
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