Legendary composer Burt Bacharach passes away aged 94

Burt Bacharach, who has died aged 94 <i>(Image: Olaf Heine)</i>
Burt Bacharach, who has died aged 94 (Image: Olaf Heine)

Legendary composer Burt Bacharach has passed away aged 94.

His orchestral pop style was behind hits like 'I Say A Little Prayer', and earned him three Academy Awards.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, in May 1928 he wrote a total of 52 UK top 40 hits including 'Magic Moments', a number one for Perry Como in 1958.

Bacharach began his career having served in the U.S army where he would compose songs and play piano in officers' clubs.

In 1957 a song he'd written with Hal David, 'The Story of My Life' hit #1 on the U.S country music chart and that combined with 'Magic Moments' helped launch his career.

He was responsible for discovering Dionne Warwick and his songs performed by the soul singer reached the top 40 no fewer than 22 times.

Inspired by the jazz music he listened to growing up, Bacharach's songs were noted for being more complex than the average pop song, with many jazz artists doing their own versions of his hits.

He worked on the score for the 1967 parody James Bond filmCasino Royale, which would lead to him making cameo appearances in the spoof Austin Powers films in later years.

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That was one of his first forays into Hollywood but he'd experience enormous success with his film scores, winning the Academy Award for best original song for 'Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head', best score for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and best original song for 'Arthur's Theme' from Arthur.

Bacharach performed at Glastonbury in 2015 and played the bandstand in Glasgow in 2019.

His songs were to be used in the jukebox musical My Best Friend's Wedding which was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic but may be revived at a later date.

Bacharach was married four times in his life, and had four children, one of whom was adopted. His autobiography, Anyone Who Had a Heart, was published in 2013.

Tributes from the world of music and film began flooding in immediately, with Oasis songwriter Noel Gallagher writing: "RIP maestro, pleasure to have known you".

Quoting from 'I Say A Little Prayer' actress Rosario Dawson wrote: "Forever, and ever, you'll stay in my heart and I will love you".

Tim Burgess of The Charlatans called his work "one of the greatest songwriting legacies in the history of ever".

He is perhaps best remembered by one of his own quotes: "Never be ashamed to write a melody that people remember."