Burt Bacharach is a highly decorated American Pianist, Vocalist, and Composer. He has had an extremely prolific career which included works for television, radio, media artists, and film scores.
Bacharach was born in Kansas, Missouri on the 12th of May, 1928 and raised in Forest Hills, New York City. He started receiving piano lessons while he was a child, however, he pointed out later in his life that he disliked those piano lessons, and that he was an avid jazz enthusiast. He would often use fake identification to gain access to nightclubs so that he could listen to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Soon, Bacharach started studying music at the Mannes School of Music. He then continued his studies at the Music Academy of the West in California.
Bacharach embarked on his prolific career when he met lyricist Hal David at the Brill Building in 1957. Their song ‘The Story of My Life’ was an instant hit. It was the number one hit in the United States and it was also number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100. Another song by the duo was ‘Magic Moments’, also reached number 1 in the United Kingdom. Thus their success led them to agree on an exclusive writing partnership in 1963, a partnership that would result in over a hundred and twenty songs. Several of these songs would make it to the Top 10 or Top 20 charts on the American Billboard Hot 100.
Bacharach went on to write songs for plenty of other artists, including “Blue on Blue” for Bobby Vinton, “Baby, It’s You” for The Beatles, “They Long to Be” for The Carpenters, “I Say a Little Prayer” for Aretha Franklin, “Walk on By fire” Isaac Hayes, and “What the World Needs Now is Love” for Jackie DeShannon among numerous others.
Bacharach would also write plenty of scores for film scores and television. Bacharach wrote a song for the film Alfie which won him an Academy Award and a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement. His two other Academy Awards for Best Original Song were for “The Look of Love” for the film “Casino Royale” and “Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head” from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, the latter also won a Grammy for best original score. Bacharach had a total of six Grammy awards, including the one for the hit single by Dionne Warwick for “Promises, Promises”. Bacharach’s other Grammy wins included a “Song of the Year” award for “That’s what friends are for” and one for a collaboration with Elvis Costello for the song “I Still have that Other Girl”.
Bacharach was known for his radical, yet unpredictable chords progressions. Most musicians attributed this to his history in jazz harmony. He was also famous for his ability to change meters within a song, which also accounted for his irregular phrasing.
Burt Bacharach married four times in his life, his most recent wife is a ski instructor named Jane Hanson. He published his autobiography titled “Anyone who had a heart” in 2013.