Burt Bacharach biography
Burt Bacharach was born on May 12, 1928, in Kansas City, Missouri. Starting in the 1950s, he found success as a songwriter; working with Hal David, Bacharach wrote 1960s hits such as "I Say a Little Prayer" and "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head." He has also written a Broadway musical and worked on movie themes and scores. Bacharach has received three Academy Awards and six Grammys for his work.
Early Life and Career
Burt Bacharach was born on May 12, 1928, in Kansas City, Missouri, but grew up in New York City. He studied music at, among other places, the Mannes School of Music and McGill University. After a stint in the U.S. Army—during which time he played piano and arranged music for a dance band—he embarked upon a career as a songwriter at the end of the 1950s.
Bacharach worked in the famous Brill Building, where numerous songwriters cranked out hits. There, Bacharach wrote the music for Perry Como's "Magic Moments," as well as "The Story of My Life" for Marty Robbins. He happened to work on those songs with lyricist Hal David, who would become Bacharach's full-time partner in just a few years.
Success in Music
Though Bacharach served as Marlene Dietrich's accompanist from 1958 to 1964, traveling with her on tour, he began to work regularly with David in the early 1960s. It was around that time that Bacharach heard back-up singer Dionne Warwick perform. He was impressed by her talent, and Warwick was soon interpreting many of the pair's songs, including the popular "Don't Make Me Over" and "I Say a Little Prayer." Between 1962 and 1968, Warwick took 15 of the duo's songs into the Top 40.
Bacharach next branched out into films. Along with David, he wrote the theme songs for What's New Pussycat? and Alfie. In 1968, Bacharach received a Grammy for his instrumental arrangements on Alfie. The score for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) earned Bacharach another Grammy, as well as an Academy Award. With David, Bacharach won his second Oscar for that film's "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head."
In addition to film work and hit songs, Bacharach and David wrote a musical: Promises, Promises. It was a success on Broadway and the show's album won a Grammy. In 1970, The Carpenters reached No. 1 on the U.S. charts with "(They Long to Be) Close to You." Along with his continued success as a songwriter, Bacharach released his own album, Burt Bacharach (1971), which sold well. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972.
Bacharach's success dimmed slightly as the 1970s progressed. Following a disagreement about royalties for Lost Horizon, a science fiction movie musical, he ended his partnership with David. The dispute turned out to have been unnecessary, as the film bombed at the box office.
Though his collaboration with David was over, Bacharach kept working with different songwriting partners. In 1982, he won his third Academy Award for "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)." "That's What Friends Are For" was a No.
1 success and earned Bacharach a fourth Grammy in 1987. Bacharach worked with David again when the two wrote a new song for Warwick, "Sunny Weather Lover."
Appearing with Mike Myers in Austin Powers (1997) introduced Bacharach and his music to a new audience. Bacharach has also collaborated multiple times with Elvis Costello; together, they won a Grammy for "I Still Have That Other Girl." Costello worked on Bacharach's album At This Time (2005), which also featured contributions from Dr. Dre and Rufus Wainwright. The album won Bacharach his sixth Grammy.
Bacharach has been married four times. His first wife was actress Paula Stewart. He next married actress Angie Dickinson. His third marriage was to Carole Bayer Sager, one of his songwriting partners. Most recently, he wed ski instructor Jane Hanson.
With Dickinson, Bacharach had a daughter, Nikki. Born several months premature, she suffered from developmental problems and was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome later in her life. Nikki committed suicide when she was 40. Bacharach shared some of the pain surrounding her death in his autobiography, Anyone Who Had a Heart: My Life and Music (2013). He has three other children: a son from his third marriage and a son and daughter from his fourth marriage.