Six decades into one of songwriting’s most successful and honored careers – marked by 48 Top 10 hits, nine #1 songs, more than 500 compositions and a landmark 50+-year run on the charts, Burt Bacharach’s music continues to set industry records and creative standards.
His Grammy-award winning musical, PROMISES, PROMISES, returned to Broadway in April 25, 2010 and earned four Tony nominations. His two years of sold-out concerts in Australia resulted in “Burt Bacharach Live at the Sydney Opera House” an international hit in 2008. “At This Time,” his 2005 album, which won the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album, broke new ground with Bacharach’s first-ever lyrical collaborations, supplementing the melodies which reflect the pioneering Bacharach sound. He says it is the “most-passionate album” of his career as “At This Time” marked the first time Bacharach took on social and political issues in his music.
Bacharach’s global audiences span 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 in many countries simultaneously. His many concerts are SRO, as he tours the United States and the world conducting orchestras and with his own musicians and singers performing his music. He began 2008 with a tour of Australia and Japan, and is booked at many of the country’s most-popular venues through the next two years.
Along with Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Paul McCartney and Paul Simon, Bacharach is a legend of popular music. A recipient of three Academy Awards and eight Grammy Awards (including the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award and 1997 Trustees Award with collaborator Hal David), he revolutionized the music of the 1950s and 60s and is regularly bracketed with legendary names, ranging from Cole Porter to Sir George Martin, as one of a handful of visionaries who pioneered new forms of music from the second half of the 20th Century and continued into the 21st Century.
When The Recording Academy awarded Bacharach the Lifetime Achievement Award in February, 2008, he was proclaimed music’s “Greatest Living Composer.” Proud father, on tour in Australia, had his three children (Cristopher, Oliver, and Raleigh) accept the award on his behalf.
“Burt Bacharach Live” was his first-ever live concert CD and was recorded during the concert tour to Australia (and Japan) in 2008. Released in October, 2008, “Burt Bacharach Live at the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Symphony” contains 32 favorite Bacharach songs, with Bacharach conducting and his singers and band accompanying the Symphony.
New for 2010 is a cast recording of the new production of “Promises, Promises” (featuring Kristin Chenowith, Sean Hayes and Katie Finneran). In 2009, “Magic Moments, The Definitive Burt Bacharach Collection,” was released.Singer Steve Tyrell’s most-recent Bacharach tribute CD, “Back to Bacharach,” was also released in 2008.
In 2007, popular Dutch singer Trijntje Oosterhuis recorded two albums of Bacharach songs “The Look of Love: Burt Bacharach Songbook” and “Who’ll Speak for Love: Burt Bacharach Songbook II.”
After six decades of writing love songs, Bacharach shifted his attention to his indignation over the state of the world in “At This Time.” Collaborating with Elvis Costello, Dr. Dre, Rufus Wainwright, Chris Botti and others, “At This Time” features a 35-piece orchestra performing new Bacharach melodies with his first-ever self-penned lyrics. Bacharach says he wrote the lyrics (many with Tonio K) because “there are
things I needed to say.” The album was released in the U.S. by Columbia Records and internationally by Sony BMG, and immediately became a critical success and a 2005 Grammy winner. Two years after its release, it continues to surpass expectations, as the music inspires dialogue about issues important to Bacharach.
A second 2005 Grammy was related to Bacharach, as well. Aretha Franklin’s recording of the Bacharach-David classic, “A House Is Not a Home,” won in the Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance category.
The composer last produced, arranged and conducted an album of his own songs sung by R&B icon Ronald Isley, “Here I Am: Ronald Isley Meets Burt Bacharach,” in 2003. With 11 Bacharach/Hal David classics are two songs which marked Bacharach’s first collaborations with Tonio K., the album held spots on the BILLBOARD’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album Chart for months after its debut.
“Here I Am: Ronald Isley Meets Burt Bacharach” wasn’t the only Bacharach composition on the charts since 2003. 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 the Luther Vandross’ version of “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 run as #3 on the BILLBOARD’s Top Contemporary Jazz Album chart. Bacharach and David enjoyed another top ten hit in November, 2003, when their song, “The Look of Love,” was sampled in Ashanti’s “Rain on Me.”
Bacharach has been a special guest four times (including season finale in 2006) 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 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. Mike Myers considers Bacharach his lucky charm, and cast him in all three “Austin Powers” films. He was also a guest artist on ABC-TV’s “Dancing with the Stars” in 2006.
His songs have been recorded by legendary singers, such as Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Linda Ronstadt, Dionne Warwick and 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” and “God Give Me Strength”), REM, Diana Krall, Barenaked Ladies, Sheryl Crow, Wynonna Judd and Myers.
In December, 2003, Bacharach, Isley, James Ingram and Michael McDonald paired with the ice skating artistry of Brian Boitano, Brian Orser and Nicole Bobek for a “McCormick Presents Burt Bacharach Tribute on Ice,” an NBC television special.
And the beat goes on… Record company 180 Music released “New Music From An Old Friend” in 2007 featuring two Bacharach songs. Hip-O Select released “Burt Bacharach – Something Big” (Hip-o Select/Universal) in 2004, while Universal distributed “What The World Needs Now: Burt Bacharach Classics” (A&M/UME),in 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. Rhino Records released “The Very Best of Burt Bacharach” in 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.
There’s more: In 2006, UCLA Student Alumni Association awarded Bacharach its “George and Ira Gershwin Award for Musical Achievement”; and USC awarded Bacharach the USC Thornton Legacy Award for extraordinary achievement in the arts in recognition of his contributions to music. In addition, USC created the Burt Bacharach Music Scholarship at the Thornton School to support outstanding young musicians. GQ Magazine presented Bacharach its “GQ Inspiration Award,” in September, 2005. In 2002, Bacharach was a recipient of the National Academy Of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) New York Heroes Award. Bacharach was also the recipient of the prestigious Polar Music Prize, presented in Stockholm by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, in 2001. 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 2000. Petula Clark, Costello and Warwick all gave performances at a tribute to Bacharach and David at the Royal Albert Hall later in 2000, where the songwriting duo picked up the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
Bacharach’s 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 premiered in 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 (Best That You Can Do)” (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 Fallin’ On My Head” first appeared.
Other Bacharach-enriched films and television shows include TV’s “The Sopranos,” featuring “Walk On By” in a 2007 episode; “Shrek the Third” (2007): “That’s What Friends Are For”; “The Simpsons Movie” (2007): “(They Long To Be) Close To You”; two cult films, “Grindhouse” and “Death Proof” (2007), both included “Baby It’s You”; “I Think I Love My Wife” (2007): “The Look Of Love”; “Flushed Away” (2006): “What’s New Pussycat?”; “Failure To Launch” (2006): “This Guy’s In Love With You”; “Running With Scissors” (2006): “One Less Bell To Answer.” Others include “Spider-Man 2” (2004); “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” (2004); 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. “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 Fallin’ 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) 1968’s “Promises, Promises.”
His music in the 1980s made as much of an impact as his early work. 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. Released by Dionne And Friends (Warwick, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight), “That’s What Friends Are For” won a Grammy Award and holds a special place in Bacharach’s heart for another reason: 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. “On My Own,” recorded by Patti LaBelle and McDonald, was nominated for a Grammy and became the #1 R&B song of 1986.
A third song, “Heartlight” (1982), a collaboration with Neil Diamond was inspired by the film “E.T.,” and Bacharach and Sager later named one of their Eclipse-winning horses Heartlight No. One. 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.
Life may only be a moment, but in Bacharach’s hands it’s a big, bold, Technicolor moment.
THE FINANCIAL TIMES, OCTOBER, 2008
“The King of Easy”
THE GUARDIAN, OCTOBER, 2008
“What matters, in the end, is the groundbreaking level of sophistication he brought to pop music.”
MONTREAL GAZETTE, SEPTEMBER, 2008
“What the world needs now is still Burt Bacharach.”
THE ADAGE.COM.AU, JANUARY, 2008
“Bacharach proves he’s got staying power.”
THE ASPEN TIMES, December, 2007
"A robust Bacharach sat at the piano for two hours, offering a staggering celebration of his catalog.... Bacharach's retrospective became absolutely stunning."
THE BOSTON GLOBE, October, 2007
“Burt Bacharach: The popfather.”
THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD, July, 2007
“…leaves audience wanting more.”
THE WEST, July, 2007
“Bacharach says what the world needs now is peace.”
THE WEST, July, 2007
“This guy’s in love with being back again.”
THE AUSTRALIAN, June, 2007
“Modern-day George Gershwin.”
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, November, 2006
“Burt Bacharach brings cool back to the desert.”
THE DESERT SUN, November, 2006
“One man took a valiant stand for justice.”
THE NATION, February, 2006
“Grammy winner for best pop instrumental album,[Bacharach] explaining the uncharacteristic political bent to his latest release, ‘At This Time,’ ‘I never liked to be lied to by a girlfriend or agent and certainly not the president of the United States.’”
NEWSWEEK, February, 2006
“Bacharach has of late seen his artistic stock go blue chip, with everyone from Austin Powers to Elvis Costello appreciating his breezy hits for the
harmonic and rhythmic marvels they are.”
THE BOSTON GLOBE, December, 2005
“…deploying Dr. Dre’s drum loops on several tracks, Bacharach brings together deceptively light jazz, contemporary chill-out grooves and his own jet-setter sophistication. [Elvis] Costello lends an almost operatic cameo to the
corporation-skewering, ‘Who Are These People’….’”
ROLLING STONE, November 3, 2005
“Each song… is deftly linked to the next through a shared lyric as Bacharach courses through emotions from confusion to indignation to resignation to realization.
It's his melodies and harmonies – jarringly dissonant one minute, achingly melancholy the next – that get the panoply of human feeling across.”
LOS ANGELES TIMES, October 30, 2005
“Under the flawless production, it's as raw as Bacharach gets, and
there's no doubting the sincerity of his indignation.
Burt Bacharach: protest singer. The times, they are a-changing.”
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, October 30, 2005
“Bacharach’s classic songs may sound breezy, but don’t be fooled by the soothing flugelhorn. As anyone who’s ever tried to warble, ‘Promises, Promises’ can testify, Bacharach’s melodies are daring, his rhythms capricious.
The man’s grasp of meter and form veers toward the downright exotic.”
“…his upbeat songs and brilliant music career seem the definition of the philosophy
‘do what you love and success will follow,’”
THE DALLAS OBSERVER, March, 2005
“Bacharach with an Isley twist –Their new album delivers
striking takes of the composer’s work”
LOS ANGELES TIMES, November, 2003
“What took them so long? That’s the only question remaining after listening to the glorious collaboration between Isley Brothers vocalist Ron Isley
and songwriter Burt Bacharach”
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, November, 2003
R&B legend Isley’s lithe, delicately soulful voice is ideally suited to the
material on this cd.”
USA TODAY, November 2003
“Bacharach has become a pop culture icon.”
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, September, 2003
“Burt: The World Needs Him Now”
“Here was an AM genius with soulful FM ambitions –
and the skill and education to know how to realize them.”
“The songs of Burt Bacharach and Hal David are timeless classics boasting intricate, endlessly facile melodies and wonderfully inventive lyrics.”
“Their [Bacharach and David] song titles read like a catalogue of
contemporary pop’s golden era….”
USA TODAY, May, 2003
“…a man who launched a thousand hits….”
THE INDEPENDENT (U.K.), July, 2002
“...popular music's magic man hasn't missed a beat.”
THE EDMONTON SUN, January, 2002
“Bacharach reminded us why he endures as pop's reigning melodist
at a concert last night….”
“He personifies the word ‘unruffled,’
and no one over the last 40 years has written more or better pop songs.”
VANITY FAIR, November, 2000
“As a presence in the last half-century of music history, he’s simply inescapable.”
THE PHOENIX NEW TIMES, October, 2000
“He is the greatest American composer since George Gershwin and the closest to Gershwin anyone born in the second half of the 20th Century is ever going to see.”
ARIZONA TRIBUNE, October, 2000
It’s no wonder Burt Bacharach is spoken of with such famous names as Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers. His hit-single track record runs the gamut from rock and soul to polished Broadway scores; few writers can match the golden era of his work.”
THE DENVER POST, September, 2000
“It is rare that a music segment of an Oscar show gets a standing ovation but this one orchestrated by Burt Bacharach certainly deserved it.…”
“Bacharach’s program also pointed to an influence on modern music that’s so pervasive it’s virtually subliminal…his songs never went out of style, and they never will.”
LOS ANGELES TIMES, October, 1998
“The Burt Bacharach revival has proven
the composer’s sophisticated style of pop, film music to be ageless.”
VARIETY, October, 1998
“It was 10 o’clock on a Saturday night, and several hundred people were…having a religious experience: Burt Bacharach was giving a miniconcert.”
NEW YORK TIMES, October, 1998
“Bacharach is currently enjoying greater popularity than at any other time
since his heyday in the 1960s and early 70s…
In fact, Hollywood has been Bacharach’s biggest promoter.”
TIME Magazine, July, 1997
“Mr. Bacharach is cool. It isn’t just that his audience today is more sophisticated; it’s that there is a yearning for the lush sophistication that Mr. Bacharach stands for.”
NEW YORK TIMES, July, 1997
“Bacharach’s suave melodies have crawled into the consciousness in the same seductive way they first did.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, August, 1997
“Bacharach has seen his name become synonymous with the craft of songwriting at its most elegant and imperiled. He is a cultural signifier... With no apparent effort on his part he has become a figure of cult admiration.”
THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY, June, 1997
“'God Give Me Strength' [is] an epic in triple time, six minutes long, the best thing Bacharach has done in years.…”
VANITY FAIR, October, 1996
“The pearl is ‘God Give Me Strength’ by Bacharach and Elvis Costello. Broody and complex, it suggests a tune Bacharach might have given
Dionne Warwick to sing in an uptown nightclub at 3 a.m.”
TIME, October 7, 1996