Burt Bacharach, writer of such classic pop hits as ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,’ dies at 94
(CNN) — Burt Bacharach, the acclaimed composer and songwriter behind dozens of mellow pop hits from the 1950s to the 1980s, including “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” “(They Long to Be) Close to You” and the theme from the movie “Arthur,” has died, a family member of Bacharach confirmed to CNN.
He was 94.
A major figure in 20th century pop music, Bacharach scored major hits in a variety of genres, from Top 40 to country to rhythm and blues and film scores. He wrote 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 were classified, perhaps unfairly, as “easy listening” – a gentle, old fashioned style of music with few rough edges. Most were far removed from the sounds of rock and roll, funk, disco or other popular genres of his time.
And yet Bacharach, with longtime collaborator Hal David, churned out many of the catchiest songs of the era. 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 biggest-selling female vocalists of the 1960s.
Bachrach also wrote such massive hits as Perry Como’s “Magic Moments,” the Shirelles’ “Baby It’s You,” Tom Jones’ “What’s New Pussycat?”, Jackie DeShannon’s “What the World Needs Now is Love,” Herb Alpert’s “This Guy’s In Love With You,” Neil Diamond’s “Heartlight” and the Patti Labelle-Michael McDonald duet “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 something that you can whistle,” Bachrach told NPR’s Scott Simon in 2013.
Over his long career Bachrach earned almost every major award in music, including six Grammys, three Oscars and – 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.