A Short Biog of Burt Bacharach

Written by Toby Walker
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Burt Bacharach -Young - writing.
© - Toby Walker

Born in May 1928, in Kansas City, Burt Bacharach studied cello, drums and piano as a child, and was later relocated to New York City by his father, a media columnist.
 
His parents were Irma M. Freeman and Mark Bertram Bacharach.
   
As a youngster he grew up in the Forest Hills section of New York City.
    
Burt played in several jazz bands during the 1940's.
 

/Hal David -Burt Bacharach - Dionne WarwickHe studied music theory and composition at the Mannes School in New York, at Berkshire Music Center, at the New School for Social Research (with Darius Milhaud), at Montreal's McGill University, and at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California.
   
A period in the Army interrupted his concentration of music study, but even while serving in Germany, Burt arranged and played piano for a dance band. 
   
He also played in nightclubs and backed Steve Lawrence, the Ames Brothers and Paula Stewart.
    
Burt was discharged in 1952, and he married Stewart on December 22nd of the following year.
   
On return to the U.S., he began writing songs for Lawrence, Patti Page, the Ames Brothers and others, but his first hit came from Marty Robbins in late 1957 when Robbins took 'The Story of My Life' to the American Top 20 and the number one spot in England.
    
The single was also notable for its co-composer, Hal David, who became Bacharach's songwriting partner and collaborated on most of his big hits.
   
The Bacharach / David team followed up in January 1958 with Perry Como's 'Magic Moments,' another U.K. chart-topper and a Top Five entry in America.
   
Bacharach's marriage dissolved in 1958, and he left for Europe to tour with Marlene Dietrich.
    
He returned in 1961, and wrote several songs for the Drifters with Bob Hilliard (including 'Mexican Divorce' and 'Please Stay') before reuniting with Hal David.
   
At an arranging session, he found the singer who became the ultimate vehicle for his songs.
   
By late 1962, Bacharach and David began focusing most of their composing energy on Warwick, who was the recipient of 15 Top 40 singles from 1962 to 1968 (including the Top Tens 'Anyone Who Had a Heart,' 'Walk on By,' 'Message to Michael,' 'I Say a Little Prayer,' 'Valley of the Dolls' and 'Do You Know the Way to San Jose?').
   
The duo also remained dominant in England, where Frankie Vaughan, Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw, the Walker Brothers and Herb Alpert all hit number one with Bacharach / David compositions.

burt bacharach -cilla black    

If their schedule wasn't busy enough throughout the '60's, the songwriters contributed film scores for 'What's New Pussycat?', 'Alfie' and 'Casino Royale'. Their most celebrated score, 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' (1969), won Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Theme Song for 'Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head' (plus two non-musical Academy Awards).
   
Bacharach and David began working on the musical 'Promises' in the late '60's.
    
The musical won a Tony and a Grammy Award (for cast album) during a popular three-year Broadway run.
    
In 1965, Burt married the actress Angie Dickinson, a marriage which lasted until 1980.
   
Bacharach hit the charts himself in 1969, with the show's 'I'll Never Fall in Love Again' reaching the Top 100.
    
Surprisingly, this was not his only venture into recording.
     
Burt had reached number four in the U.K. charts in May 1965 with 'Trains and Boats and Planes,' and he released several popular solo albums during the late '60's.
    
Burt Bacharach - the CarpentersThe beginning of the '70's looked bright for Burt Bacharach, as the Carpenters took '(They Long to Be) Close to You' to number one in the U.S. in July 1970.
    
The forecast was premature, though, as three of his closest partners Hal David, Dionne Warwick and his second wife Angie Dickinson left him.
    
He gathered several accolades for a retrospective 1971 album featuring renditions of his previous hit compositions, but later albums were disappointing and Burt's next hit was over a decade in coming.
    
Finally in 1981, he collaborated with Christopher Cross, Carol Bayer Sager and Peter Allen on the Oscar-winning 'Arthur's Theme.' %     
Burt married Bayer Sager just one year later, and together they wrote Roberta Flack's Top 20 hit 'Making Love,' as well as 'Heartlight' which Neil Diamond took to number five.
    
Once Burt resumed composing he began to hit, and 1986 was one of his finest years, with two American number ones. %     
'That's What Friends Are For' (by an all-star group including Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder) and a duet by Patti LaBelle & Michael McDonald entitled 'On My Own.'
   
He divorced Carole Bayer Sager in 1991, but worked with Dionne Warwick again two years later on 'Sunny Weather Love,' from her 'Friends Can Be Lovers' album.
 
Also in 1993, Burt contributed songs to James Ingram, Earth, Wind & Fire and Tevin Campbell.
    
BBC-TV focused on Burt in a January 1996 documentary, and a three-disc retrospective of his compositions was released by Rhino in 1998.
    
That same year he collaborated with Elvis Costello on the acclaimed 'Painted from Memory', and was celebrated at an all-star concert at Radio City Music Hall which later formed the basis for the LP 'One Amazing Night'.
    
2005 saw a return to the studio for a highly acclaimed new set for the Sony imprint entitled 'At This Time'.
    
In 2013, a fine retrospective of Burt Bacharach's career was released entitled 'Burt Bacharach - Anyone Who Had A Heart - The Art Of The Songwriter'.

Burt Bacharach -Anyone who had a heart. 

Article originally appeared in Soul Walking http://www.soulwalking.co.uk - Used by Kind Permission – Many Thanks



Read 1556 times Last modified on Friday, 08 May 2015 15:03

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