Burt Bacharach, the famous composer and songwriter behind dozens of soft pop hits from the 1950s through the 1980s, including “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”, “(They Long to Be) Close to You” and the theme for the movie “Arthur,” has passed away, a member of Bacharach’s family confirmed to CNN.
He was 94 years old.
A major figure in 20th century pop music, Bacharach scored major hits in a variety of genres, from Top 40 and country to rhythm and blues and film scores. He has written hit songs for a wide range of artists including Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones, Neil Diamond, the Carpenters and Christopher Cross.
Many of his songs have been categorized, perhaps unfairly, as “easy listening” – a soft, old-fashioned style of music with few harsh edges. Most were far removed from the sounds of rock and roll, funk, disco, or other popular genres of their time.
And yet Bacharach, along with his longtime collaborator Hal David, produced many of the most catchy songs of the time. Many of them – “Say a Little Prayer”, “Walk on By”, “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” – became hits for Warwick, one of the best-selling singers of the 1960s.
Bachrach also wrote such massive hits as Perry Como’s “Magic Moments”, The Shirelles’ “Baby It’s You”, “What’s New Pussycat?” by Tom Jones, “What the World Needs Now is Love” by Jackie DeShannon, “This Guy’s In Love With You”, “Heartlight” by Neil Diamond and the Patti Labelle-Michael McDonald duo “On My Own”.
One of his biggest and most impactful hits was ‘That’s What Friends Are For’, the charity collaboration between Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder that topped the charts in 1986 and raised millions. for AIDS research.
“Never be afraid of anything you can whistle” Bachrach said NPR’s Scott Simon in 2013.
In his long career, Bachrach has won almost every major music award, including six Grammys, three Oscars and – along with Hal David – the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, awarded by the Library of Congress. In 2008, the Grammys proclaimed him music’s greatest living composer.