Burt Bacharach, Grammy-winning composer behind massive hits, dead at 94

Burt Bacharach, the Grammy and Oscar-winning composer who churned out timeless hits including “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” has died. He was 94.

The prolific pop songwriter died of natural causes Wednesday at his Los Angeles home, his publicist said Thursday.

Bacharach penned songs performed by Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones, Aretha Franklin and Neil Diamond during a career that began in the early 1950s and spanned seven decades. He worked for years with lyricist Hal David, including on the Warwick hits “Walk On By,” “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and “I Say a Little Prayer.”

Born in Kansas City, Mo., Bacharach grew up in Kew Gardens, Queens, and graduated from Forest Hills High School. During his youth, Bacharach used a fake ID to get into New York City jazz clubs, where he saw Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie perform.

“They were just so incredibly exciting that all of a sudden, I got into music in a way I never had before,” Bacharach wrote in the 2013 memoir “Anyone Who Had a Heart.” “What I heard in those clubs turned my head around.”

Bacharach studied music at multiple conservatories, including the Mannes School of Music in New York, and later began his professional career in the city. Early on, Bacharach toured with artists including Vic Damone, his future wife Polly Stewart and Marlene Dietrich.

“I would like you to meet the man, he’s my arranger, he’s my accompanist, he’s my conductor, and I wish I could say he’s my composer,” Dietrich would tell audiences when they toured together in the 1950s and ‘60s. “But that isn’t true. He’s everybody’s composer ... Burt Bacharach!”

Bacharach and David worked together at the Brill Building on Broadway. “Magic Moments,” performed by Perry Como, came out in 1958 and proved to be their first hit, topping the U.K. singles chart and peaking at No. 4 on the U.S. pop chart.

The duo discovered Warwick several years later and began a partnership that included the Grammy-winning songs “Alfie” and “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?”

Warwick, 82, compared Bacharach’s death to “losing a family member.”

“On the lighter side, we laughed a lot and had our run-ins, but always found a way to let each other know our family, like roots, were the most important part of our relationship,” she tweeted. “My heartfelt condolences go out to his family, letting them know he is now peacefully resting and I, too, will miss him.”

Bacharach won six Grammys and three Oscars. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” co-written by David and performed by B.J. Thomas for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” won best original song at the 1970 Academy Awards, while the film won best original score.

Bacharach again won best original song in 1981 for “Arthur’s Theme,” which Bacharach co-wrote with Carole Bayer Sager, whom he later married; Christopher Cross, who performed the song; and the musician Peter Allen.

Bacharach and David stopped working together after the flop of their 1973 remake of the musical “Lost Horizon.” They made up before David’s death in 2012. Months before David died, the Library of Congress honored the duo with its Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

Bacharach is survived by his fourth wife, Jane Hansen, whom he married in 1993. He is also survived by three children.

With News Wire Services