Burt Bacharach, one of the most important composers and songwriters of pop hits in the 20th century, has died. He was 94.
Bacharach was a six-time Grammy Award winner and three-time Academy Award winner who composed hundreds of pop songs from the late 1950s through the 1980s, many in collaboration with lyricist Hal David.
A spokesperson for Bacharach confirmed to The Washington Post that he died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles.
Known for his style of upscale, jazz-influenced orchestral pop that made him a major figure in “easy listening,” Bacharach wrote more 73 Top 40 hits in the U.S. and 52 in the U.K. for artists such as Gene Pitney, Cilla Black, Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon, Bobbie Gentry, Tom Jones, Herb Alpert, B. J. Thomas, the Carpenters and more.
Major hits like “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” became an inescapable part of the 1960s, and it was these songs and many other compositions that made Bacharach an enduringly influential figure in modern music.
Writer William Farina wrote that Bacharach was “a composer whose venerable name can be linked with just about every other prominent musical artist of his era.” To date, Bacharach’s songs have been recorded by more than 1,000 different artists.
Born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1928 and raised in New York, Bacharach would sneak into jazz clubs as a youth to hear musicians such as Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie. It was this early exposure to jazz harmony that informed his signature style, characterized by unusual chord progressions, syncopated rhythmic patterns, irregular phrasing, frequent modulation and odd meters.
Bacharach received a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2008. He and Hal David received the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, awarded by the Library of Congress, in 2012.