Burt Bacharach, Famed Pop Composer, Dead at 94

Burt Bacharach, the prolific composer of hundreds of pop hits, has died. He was 94.

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His publicist, Tina Brausam, confirmed his passing on February 8 to The Washington Post. The singer died at his Los Angeles home with no cause of death given.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1928, Bacharach was raised in New York where his love of music came early. In his youth, he would use fake IDs to get into jazz clubs to catch performances of the greats like Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie.

He was greatly influenced by their music, an inspiration he carried into his service in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. During his military stint, he served as a pianist at officer’s clubs and arranged music for dance bands.

After the army, Bacharach continued a musical career, serving as conductor and pianist for the singer Vic Damone. From there, he became a music director, working mainly with the actress Marlene Dietrich for her nightclub shows. This position garnered him great recognition as a composer and before long he was creating mega-hits for the ages.

Bacharach, over the course of his near 70-year career, crafted more than 70 top 40 hits, soundtracking the ’60s and ’70s with pop songs like “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Alfie,” “Close to You,” “Promises, Promises,” and “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.”

Often paired with lyricist Hal David, Bacharach was behind chart-topping tunes sung by musical greats such as Aretha Franklin, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, Herb Alpert, Dionne Warwick, and so many more.

During his heyday, he was a household name, rattling off hit after hit. His career saw a shift in the mid-1980s when he began writing with Carole Bayer Sager. The couple was behind hits like “Heartlight” for Neil Diamond, Roberta Flack’s “Making Love,” and Patti LaBelle’s “On My Own.”

Throughout his career, Bacharach was the recipient of innumerable Oscars, Grammys, and Emmys, as well as the highest honor in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, The Johnny Mercer Award.

Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images

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