During his heyday in the mid-to-late 1960s, American composer and songwriter Burt Bacharach wrote many popular tunes for Broadway and films. Many of these songs such as "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," and "What the World Needs Now" have become American standards. He is the son of syndicated newspaper columnist, Bert Bacharach. After receiving professional training, Bacharach served in Korea as a concert pianist in the Army. After his military stint, he became a professional accompanist for such entertainers as Vic Damone, Joel Grey, and Polly Bergen, but he did not really get his big break until he began working as the conductor-arranger for Marlene Dietrich, on her world concert tour, while simultaneously penning songs for Broadway musicals and films. Bacharach's songs during the '60s and early '70s are distinguished for their complex, highly syncopated rhythms and clever lyrics. Many of them were made popular by Dionne Warwick and Jack Jones. He won two Academy Awards in 1969 for the soundtrack for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and for the song Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head from the same film. Many of his tunes were written with lyricist Hal David. Though not as popular as he once was, Bacharach continues to score films and has also established a career as a solo entertainer and performs concerts and in nightclubs all over the country.
Biography by Sandra Brennan
- Moved as a child with his family to Queens, NY, and studied the cello, the drums and—at his mother's insistence—the piano, which he hated.
- Used a fake ID to get into nightclubs to see Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker perform.
- Served in the Army from 1950 to '52.
- Toured with Marlene Dietrich as her arranger and accompanist from 1958 to '61.
- The music he created with longtime writing partner Hal David, whom he met in 1957, was recorded by acts including the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, the Carpenters, Neil Diamond, Aretha Franklin, and their frequent collaborator Dionne Warwick.
- The Bacharach-David musical Promises, Promises, an adaptation of playwright Neil Simon's The Apartment, made its Broadway debut in 1968.
- The 1971 song "Nikki" was inspired by his oldest daughter's struggle with Asperger syndrome.
- Enjoyed a fruitful partnership with lyricist Carole Bayer Sager (whom he married in 1982), collaborating on the songs "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," "On My Own" and "That's What Friends Are For," which was recorded to raise money for AIDS research.
- A poster of Bacharach appeared on the cover of the band Oasis' debut album, Definitely Maybe.
- Experienced a revival beginning in the 1990s, thanks in part to collaborations with younger artists, including Elvis Costello, Dr. Dre and Rufus Wainwright.
- Is an owner and breeder of thoroughbred racehorses.