Six decades into one of songwriting's most successful and honored careers marked by 48 Top 10 hits, nine #1 songs and more than 500 compositions and a landmark 47-year run on the charts, Burt Bacharach's music continues to set industry records and creative standards. His audience spans several generations, and he is viewed as the unique combination of one of the greatest composers of all time and the "ultra-cool cult hero" of the contemporary music set who often has several songs on various music charts simultaneously.
Along with Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, Bacharach is a legend of popular music. A recipient of three Academy Awards and six Grammy Awards (including the 1997 Trustees Award with collaborator Hal David), he revolutionized the music of the 1950s and 60s and is regularly bracketed with legendary names such as Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers. As a record producer, he ranks with Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Sir George Martin and a handful of visionaries who pioneered new forms of music from the second half of the 20th Century in the 21st Century.
The composer produced, arranged and conducted an album of his own songs sung by R&B icon Ronald Isley, which remained on the BILLBOARD's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album Chart for three months after its debut in November, 2003. In addition to 11 Bacharach/Hal David classics are two songs which Bacharach wrote with Tonio K.
"HERE I AM: Ronald Isley Meets Burt Bacharach" wasn't the only Bacharach composition on the charts in 2003 and 2004. In one week in March, 2004, for example, Bacharach and David had a #1 hit on BILLBOARD's Hot 100 with "Slow Jamz" by Twista featuring Kanye West and Jamie Foxx which sampled of Luther Vandross' version of the "A House Is Not a Home," a Modern Rock Tracks hit with "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself" by the White Stripes, a Club Play Hit on the dance chart with Cyndi Lauper's "Walk On By," and Steve Tyrell's "This Guy's in Love" album continued its chart run as #3 on the BILLBOARD's Top Contemporary Jazz Album Charts. This was following Bacharach and Hal David's enjoying another top ten hit in November, 2003, with their song, "The Look of Love," sampled in Ashanti's "Rain on Me," which sampled the songwriters' "The Look of Love."
Mike Myers, aka "Austin Powers," considers Bacharach his lucky charm, and has cast him in all three "Austin Powers" films. Bacharach has been a special guest three times on the top-rated television series "American Idol," with many of his songs performed by the young stars on the show. The finalists of "American Idol" recorded and released a charity single of the finalists' version of the 1967 Bacharach classic "What The World Needs Now Is Love" that became a #4 hit on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 Singles Sales chart in 2003.
His songs have been recorded by legendary singers, such as Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Linda Ronstadt, Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin. Other tributes to the diversity of Bacharach's music have been paid by, among others, Elvis Costello ("I'll Never Fall in Love Again"), REM, Cyndi Lauper, Diana Krall, Barenaked Ladies, Sheryl Crow, Wynonna Judd and Myers.
Also, fans of great music and memorable skating experienced "The Look of Love" for Bacharach's legendary music on network television in December, 2003, when Bacharach, Isley, James Ingram and Michael McDonald "paired" with the ice skating artistry of Brian Boitano, Ilia Kulik, Brian Orser and Nicole Bobek for "McCormick Presents Burt Bacharach Tribute on Ice."
And the beat goes on Universal released "What The World Needs Now: Burt Bacharach Classics" (A&M/UME), in August, 2003. The album featured 23 selections of Bacharach's songs performed by the composer, each digitally re-mastered from the original master tapes, culled mostly from his solo albums for A&M. In December, 2002, Bacharach was a recipient of the National Academy Of Recording Arts And Sciences (NARAS) New York Heroes Award. Rhino Records released "The Very Best of Burt Bacharach" in March, 2001, featuring tracks with artists including Warwick, Dusty Springfield, The Carpenters and Jackie DeShannon. Bacharach enjoyed a top Ten CD in the U.K with the Warner Music International release of "The Look of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection." Krall's 2001 album, "The Look of Love," garnered widespread critical praise and resided at #1 on the jazz charts for a full year. That year, Bacharach was also the recipient of the prestigious Polar Music Prize, presented in Stockholm by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.
There's more: PEOPLE MAGAZINE named him one of the "Sexiest Men Alive" in 2000, and one of the "50 Most Beautiful People" in 1999. Bacharach served as the co-musical director of the 72nd Academy Awards in March, 2000. Petula Clark, Costello and Warwick all gave performances at a tribute to Bacharach and David at the Royal Albert Hall in July, 2000, where the songwriting duo picked up the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
DAILY VARIETY named Bacharach the "American Music Legend" of 1998, noting, "From hit songs to film scores, Burt Bacharach has turned pop conventions on their ear" (October 21, 1998). His 1998 collaboration with Costello ("Painted From Memory") on Mercury Records earned a Grammy Award for the single "I Still Have That Other Girl." In April, 1998, TNT launched its highly-acclaimed "TNT Masters Series" with "Bacharach: One Amazing Night," a special tribute show with many of today's hottest stars - including Costello, Crow, Judd and Myers - performing his songs. Rhino had earlier released a three-CD Greatest Hits collection in 1998, "The Look of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection." In 1997, Bacharach and David received the Trustees Award from NARAS on the Grammy Awards broadcast. He was the subject of a PBS "Great Performances" biography, "Burt Bacharach: This is Now," which aired in May, 1997.
Of course, Bacharach has also enjoyed a celebrated career in film as well. His compositions include "Alfie" (1966); "What's New Pussycat?" (1965; the title song was a million seller for Tom Jones); "Casino Royale" (1967; "The Look Of Love" was gold for Springfield and Sergio Mendes And Brasil '66, and was a Top 10 hit for Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass); "Arthur" (1981; the picture's theme won the Academy Award for Best Song); "Night Shift" (1982); "Making Love" (1982); "Baby Boom" (1987); and the film for which Bacharach received two Academy Awards and a Grammy award, "Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid" (1969), where "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" first appeared.
Other Bacharach-enriched films include the three "Austin Powers" movies; and the Grammy-nominated Elvis Costello collaboration "God Give Me Strength (from 1996's "Grace Of My Heart"). The Platinum-selling soundtrack from "My Best Friend's Wedding" featured several Bacharach songs, with interpretations by Ani DiFranco ("Wishin' and Hopin'") and Diana King, whose recording of "I Say A Little Prayer" hit the top of the charts. His compositions continue to be heard in many films. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" resonated in "The In-Laws" (2003) and "Clockwatchers" (1997); and "The Look Of Love" was heard in "Catch Me If You Can" (2002), "Two Weeks Notice" (2002) and "Beautiful Creatures" (2000). Bacharach paired with lyricist Tim Rice for "Walkin' Tall," performed by Lyle Lovett for the film "Stuart Little" (1999); "Wives And Lovers" appeared in "The First Wives Club" (1996); "What The World Needs Now Is Love" and "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" in "Forrest Gump" (1996); "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me" was in "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" (1997), and "This Guy's In Love With You" played a role in "One Fine Day" (1996).
Broadway has also beckoned: Bacharach broke new ground stylistically and won a Grammy Award for his collaboration with David on the hit musical (and cast recording of) 1969's "Promises, Promises."
His music in the 1980s made as much of an impact as his early songs. Two of the songs Bacharach co wrote and co produced with lyricist Carole Bayer Sager "That's What Friends Are For" and "On My Own" captured the #1 positions on three of the most prominent year end record charts. "That's What Friends Are For" has also become an international anthem for friendship. Released by Dionne And Friends (Warwick, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight), it won a Grammy Award. The recording holds a special place in Bacharach's heart because the writers and artists involved donated all the proceeds from the song to the American Foundation for AIDS Research, with funds raised exceeding $1.5 million. "That's What Friends Are For" was one of the earliest Bacharach Sager collaborations. It was originally written for Rod Stewart for the film "Night Shift." Earlier in the decade, Bacharach, Sager and Neil Diamond had collaborated on Diamond's hit "Heartlight" (1982), inspired by the film "E.T." Heartlight also became the name of one of Bacharach and Sager's horses. The couple and Diamond sang the song to Heartlight No. One before her races. In fact, the horse became a champion, winning the coveted Eclipse Award.
"On My Own," recorded by Patti LaBelle and McDonald, was nominated for a Grammy and became the #1 R&B song of 1986. Other 1980s hits include "Love Power," one of the Bacharach-Sager songs written and produced for Warwick's "Reservations For Two" album; "Everchanging Times," recorded by Siedah Garrett for the film "Baby Boom"; "Over You," by Natalie Cole and Ray Parker, Jr.; "Love Always," by El DeBarge, and "They Don't Make Them Like They Used To," a country hit nominated for a Golden Globe, recorded by Kenny Rogers for the film "Tough Guys."
Bacharach might have also been expected to be a good writer, as the only son of the late nationally syndicated columnist Bert Bacharach. From an early age, though, he demonstrated more interest with musical notes than with words. Most of his songs have been collaborations with wordsmiths, including many written with David. That particular pairing resulted in scores of Top 10 records with Warwick alone Bacharach and David scored an incredible string of 39 chart records in ten years.
Bacharach started taking piano lessons while in elementary school. His family had moved from Missouri to New York, where he spent most of his youth. An avid fan of bebop music, Bacharach was influenced by such legends as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, two musicians he credits with having a major impact on his career.
After graduating from high school, Bacharach studied at McGill University, the New School for Social Research in New York and Mannes School of Music. His training included music composition with such famous teachers as Darius Milhaud, Boguslav Martinu and Henry Cowell.
He began his career as a conductor and arranger, and toured widely for three years as accompanist conductor for the legendary Marlene Dietrich beginning in 1958. As a teenager, he was composing songs, and by the late 1950s some of his songs were hitting the charts in performances by artists from different segments of the popular music field. Perry Como had a hit with "Magic Moments." He wrote a number of country rock classics for Gene Pitney and Marty Robbins. Soon afterwards, he established himself as one of the music industry's top writer/producers, working with singers like Chuck Jackson and, of course, Warwick.
Although his first love remains writing, Bacharach feels performing is another bonus of his illustrious career. He continues to do scores of concerts around the world each year. He is one artist who will always remain in the limelight no matter what endeavor he pursues.