R.I.P. legendary songwriter Burt Bacharach

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Burt Bacharach

Legendary songwriter Burt Bacharach has died, according to a report from The Guardian. He was 94.

Both a prolific songwriter as well as a highly influential and successful one, Bacharach released over 20 studio albums in his lifetime, including a handful of film soundtracks, as well as having written hundreds of songs, 73 of which were chart hits in the U.S., and 52 in the UK.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1928, Bacharach developed an interest in jazz as a teenager and later studied music at McGill University in Montreal. After being drafted into the US Army for two years in 1950, he met singer Vic Damone while being stationed in Germany, and the two formed a musical partnership over the next few years. After returning to the states, Bacharach met lyricist Hal David at the Brill Building in 1957, and the two began a long and productive songwriting partnership that yielded their first hit song with “The Story of My Life,” performed by Marty Robbins, that same year. From there, the duo wrote songs for Gene Pitney (“(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance”), Dionne Warwick (“Walk On By,” “I Say a Little Prayer”), Dusty Springfield (“The Look of Love”), Jackie DeShannon (“What the World Needs Now”), and Tom Jones (“What’s New Pussycat?”).

His first number one single was “This Guy’s in Love With You,” performed by Herb Alpert in 1969, followed by B.J. Thomas’ “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” that same year. He reached the top of the charts again in 1981 with Christoper Cross’ “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)”.

Bacharach’s songs have been covered countless times by many different artists in different styles, becoming standards that have been reinterpreted in new ways over the past 60-plus years. Some of the notable variations included new wave group Naked Eyes’ “Always Something There to Remind You,” Isaac Hayes’ dark and epic take on “Walk On By” (which opens his 1969 album Hot Buttered Soul), Love’s “My Little Red Book,” and The Carpenters’ “Close to You.”

Bacharach has won eight Grammy awards during his career, including one in 1999 for his song “I Still Have That Other Girl,” in collaboration with Elvis Costello, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, in which he was proclaimed “Greatest Living Composer.” He also won three Academy Awards, including Best Original Song for “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” in 1970.

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