Burt Bacharach, a Grammy award-winning artist who composed hundreds of pop songs from the late 1950s through the 1980s, has died, his publicist confirmed on Thursday. He was 94.
Tina Brausam said the Oscar and Tony winner died of natural causes on Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles, California.
Bacharach, considered one of the most important figures of 20th-century pop music, wrote 73 chart-topping songs in the United States, and 52 in the United Kingdom.
Over the past 70 years, only a handful of musicians rivaled Bacharach’s genius for instantly catchy songs that remained performed, played, and hummed long after they were written.
Bacharach, an eight-time Grammy and three-time Oscar winner, had a run of top 10 hits from the 1950s into the 21st century. His music was heard everywhere, from movie soundtracks and radios to home stereo systems and iPods. He also received two Academy Awards in 1970, for the score of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and for the song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” which was shared with lyricist Hal David.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1928, the musician moved to New York City as a child together with his father, a syndicated columnist, and his mother, a pianist who encouraged him to study music.
“They were just so incredibly exciting that all of a sudden, I got into music in a way I never had before,” Bacharach recalled in the memoir “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” published in 2013.
As a teenager, Bacharach further noticed his passion for music and sometimes used a fake ID to sneak into jazz clubs and hear greats such as Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie.
“What I heard in those clubs turned my head around,” he recalled in the memoir.
From an early age, Bacharach first studied cello, drums, and piano. He attended classes at several institutions, including in New York City with famed classical composer Darius Milhaud. Bacharach has credited much of his music style to his love for bebop, as well as his classical education under Milhaud.
‘Lost Its Beethoven’
Tributes flooded in from musicians and fans across the globe shortly after news broke of his passing.
“One of the greatest songwriting legacies in the history of ever,” Thomas Burgess, a British musician and record label owner, wrote on Twitter. “Farewell Burt Bacharach, you were a king.”
Oscar-winning songwriter Diane Warren, who has written songs for Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin, said on Twitter that the music industry “lost its Beethoven” after Bacharach’s death.
The Songwriting world has lost its Beethoven today. Compose in Power forever Burt Bacharach🎵🎶🎼💔
— Diane Warren (@Diane_Warren) February 9, 2023
Brian Wilson, an American musician and co-founder of the band “Beach Boys,” also paid tribute, saying Bacharach was a hero to him and influenced him on his journey in the music industry.
“I’m so sad to hear about Burt Bacharach,” Wilson wrote on Twitter. “He was a giant in the music business. His songs will live forever.”
Dave Davies, guitarist of the British rock band “The Kinks,” described Bacharach on Twitter as “probably one of the most influential songwriters of our time” and “a great inspiration.”
Bacharach was married four times, having divorced his first wife, actress Paula Stewart in 1958.
Bacharach is survived by his wife, Jane Hansen, as well as his children Oliver, Raleigh, and Cristopher, his publicist said. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Nikki Bacharach, of his second wife, Angie Dickinson, to whom he was married from 1965 to 1980.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.