Burt Bacharach, legendary composer, songwriter, and occasional singer, who was undoubtedly one of the most important composers and commanding music figures of the 20th century, passed away at 94.

Publicist Tina Brausam confirmed that the six-time Grammy and three-time Academy Award-winning musician passed away in his home in Los Angeles, California, on Wednesday.


Bursting with romantic optimism, Bacharach’s work with frequent writing partner, lyricist Hal David, whom he met in 1956 while at the Brill Building in New York City, served as an alternative to rock and roll in the 1960s and 1970s and was regularly heard playing over the radio. But Bacharach’s music career had begun long before he met David.

Burt Freeman Bacharach, born in Kansas City, Missouri, was the son of a syndicated newspaper columnist, Bert Bacharach, and amateur artist and pianist, Irma (Freeman) Bacharach. Upon moving to Queens, New York, with his family in 1932, Bacharach began learning the cello, drums and piano at the insistence of his mother. In a 1987 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Bacharach admitted that he used to hate playing the piano as a child.

“People always think I was this child prodigy on the piano, that I just couldn’t wait to sit down and practice,” Bacharach said. “But you want to know the truth? I hated it. In fact, I only did it to please my mother. She was the one who encouraged me.”

After graduating from Forest Hills High School, Bacharach pursued music at a number of different schools, including McGill University in Montreal and the Mannes School of Music in New York City. While serving in the army in the early 1950s, Bacharach met Vic Damone, whom he toured with as an accompanist, after returning to the U.S.

Upon meeting his writing partner Hal David, the duo had their first major breakthrough with Marty Robbins’s The Story of My Life in 1957, which became a number-one hit in the U.S. The immediate success of their collaborations launched Bacharach into an iconic music career with hundreds of written songs, spanning over six decades. His work such as mellow pop 1960s hits like “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”(1969) and “Walk on By” (1964) won over the hearts and minds of millions of listeners.

Bacharach’s work has also been featured in classic films. Examples include Dusty Springfield’s “The Look of Love” in Casino Royale (1967) and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999). Bacharach performed his 1965 hit “What the World Needs Now is Love” in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery in 1997, which turned out to be his first of three cameo appearances in the Mike Myers’ spy-comedies.

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