Burt Bacharach, legendary ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head’ composer, dead at 94
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Legendary composer Burt Bacharach, whose hits include “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” and “I Say a Little Prayer,” has died. He was 94.
The Oscar winner died Wednesday at home in Los Angeles of natural causes, his publicist Tina Brausam told the Associated Press on Thursday.
Bacharach had top 10 hits since the 1950s including songs like “Alfie,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” and “This Guy’s in Love with You” as well as “Walk on By,” recorded by Dionne Warwick.
Despite a career spanning 50 years, Bacharach told Page Six in 2021: “I’ve had a lot of turn-downs in my life you know, I really have.”
He added: “You don’t win everything. Not even close to every time and I’m very accepting of things that don’t always work out.”
Bacharach scored three Academy Awards and eight Grammys over the course of his career and was a prize-winning Broadway composer for “Promises, Promises.”
The singer won his first Oscar in 1970 for the score of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and for the song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.” His second win came in 1982 when he and his then-wife Carole Bayer Sager won for “Best That You Can Do,” the theme from “Arthur.” He also did movie soundtracks including “What’s New, Pussycat?,” “Alfie” and the 1967 James Bond spoof “Casino Royale.”
In 1999, Bacharach made a cameo in the hit film “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” playing piano on top of a bus alongside Mike Myers and Vanessa Williams to his famous tune, “What the World Needs Now.” The legendary singer also appeared in the second film alongside Elvis Costello, bringing his music to an entirely new generation.
“I never saw it coming,” he told Page Six. “Mike and [director] Jay [Roach] had me over and said, ‘We’re bringing you to Las Vegas and you’ll stay one night and we’ll do this one thing.’ And lo and behold Austin Powers became a huge hit.”
“It certainly tapped me into all of the 7-year-olds in this country,” he added.
His songs have also been recorded by over 1,000 different singers and many of Bacharach’s hits were written for and performed by Warwick. Other artists he collaborated with included Gene Pitney, Cilla Black, Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon, Bobbie Gentry, Tom Jones, Herb Alpert, BJ Thomas and the Carpenters.
Bacharach began his career as a songwriter in the 1950s and became Hollywood icon Marlene Dietrich’s pianist, which shot him to fame.
“She did not have a great voice,” he told Page Six. “She didn’t have a good voice but there was that stage presence and that always worked. We played in Russia, we played in Israel, I got to see the world.”
He and longtime collaborator and lyricist partner Hal David, who died in 2012, first teamed up in 1957.
Bacharach and David met Dionne Warwick in 1961 and she had 39 of her hit singles penned by the musical duo. He’s also been given the crown of the King of Easy Listening and he worked with icons such as Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello and Dr. Dre in his later years. The performer scored 73 Top 40 hits in the United States and 52 in the United Kingdom over the decades.
His presence even transcended music, having been named one of “People” magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive” in 200 and one of the “50 Most Beautiful People” in 1999.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1928, the musician spent his childhood living in New York City with his father, a syndicated columnist, and his mother, a pianist who inspired him to study music.
He first noticed his passion for music by sneaking into jazz clubs.
“They were just so incredibly exciting that all of a sudden, I got into music in a way I never had before,” he recalled in his 2013 memoir, “Anyone Who Had a Heart.” “What I heard in those clubs turned my head around.”
He was also a classically trained musician and studied at schools in Montreal, New York and California.
Once he got out of the Army in 1952, he became a pianist and worked with artists including Vic Damone, the Ames Brothers and Paula Stewart. In 2012, he received the Gershwin Prize from Barack Obama, an award to celebrate his contributions to music.
Bacharach was married four times, having divorced his first wife, actress Paula Stewart in 1958. He wed for a fourth time, to Jane Hansen in 1993, and they remained married until his death.
During his second marriage to Angie Dickinson, the two became parents to three kids. Their daughter, named Nikki Bacharach, struggled with her mental health and died by suicide at age 40 in 2007. Bacharach revealed in his memoir that Nikki had undiagnosed Aspergers, a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
He is survived by Hansen, as well as his children Oliver, Raleigh and Cristopher.
Reflecting on his career in 2021, he told Page Six he had no intention to retire at the time and was not concerned with aging.
“I don’t think about that too much,” Bacharach said. “I’m just grateful that I’m still walking on this earth, you know?”