Skip to page content

Burt Bacharach

About this Artist

Six decades into one of songwriting's most successful and honored careers - marked by 48 Top 10 hits, nine No. 1 songs, more than 500 compositions, and a landmark 50-year run on the charts - BURT BACHARACH continues to set industry records and creative standards. At This Time, his 2005 album, which won the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album, broke new ground with Bacharach's first-ever lyrical collaborations, supplementing the melodies which reflect the pioneering Bacharach sound. He says it is the "most-passionate album" of his career as At This Time marked the first time Bacharach took on social and political issues in his music.

After six decades of writing love songs, Bacharach shifted his attention to his indignation over the state of the world in his album At This Time. Collaborating with Elvis Costello, Dr. Dre, Rufus Wainwright, Chris Botti, and others, At This Time features a 35-piece orchestra performing new Bacharach melodies with his first-ever self-penned lyrics. Bacharach says he wrote the lyrics (many with Tonio K) because "there are things I needed to say."

A recipient of three Academy Awards and seven Grammy Awards (including the 1997 Trustees Award with collaborator Hal David), Bacharach revolutionized the music of the 1950s and '60s and is regularly bracketed with legendary names, ranging from Cole Porter to Sir George Martin, as one of a handful of visionaries who pioneered new forms of music from the second half of the 20th century and continued into the 21st century.

In 2006, the UCLA Student Alumni Association awarded Bacharach its George and Ira Gershwin Award for musical achievement and USC awarded Bacharach the USC Thornton Legacy Award for extraordinary achievement in the arts. In recognition of his contributions to music, the University of Southern California created the Burt Bacharach Music Scholarship at the Thornton School to support outstanding young musicians. GQ magazine presented Bacharach its GQ Inspiration Award, in September 2005. In December 2002, Bacharach was a recipient of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences New York Heroes Award. Bacharach was also the recipient of the Polar Music Prize, presented in Stockholm by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, in 2001. People magazine named him one of the "Sexiest Men Alive" in 2000, and one of the "50 Most Beautiful People" in 1999. Bacharach served as the co-musical director of the 72nd Academy Awards in 2000. Petula Clark, Costello, and Warwick all gave performances at a tribute to Bacharach and David at the Royal Albert Hall later in 2000, where the songwriting duo picked up the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Bacharach might have also been expected to be a good writer, as the only son of the late nationally syndicated columnist Bert Bacharach. From an early age, though, he demonstrated more interest with musical notes than with words. Most of his songs have been collaborations with wordsmiths, including many written with David. That particular pairing resulted in scores of Top 10 records - with Dionne Warwick alone, Bacharach and David scored an incredible string of 39 chart records in ten years.

Bacharach started taking piano lessons while in elementary school. His family had moved from Missouri to New York, where he spent most of his youth. An avid fan of bebop music, Bacharach was influenced by such legends as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, two musicians he credits with having a major impact on his career.

After graduating from high school, Bacharach studied at McGill University, the New School for Social Research in New York, and Mannes School of Music. His training included music composition with such famous teachers as Darius Milhaud, Bohuslav Martinu°, and Henry Cowell.

He began his career as a conductor and arranger, and toured widely for three years as accompanist-conductor for Marlene Dietrich beginning in 1958. As a teenager, he was composing songs, and by the late 1950s some of his songs were hitting the charts in performances by artists from different segments of the popular music field. Perry Como had a hit with "Magic Moments." Bacharach wrote a number of country-rock classics for Gene Pitney and Marty Robbins. Soon afterwards, he established himself as one of the music industry's top writer/producers, working with singers like Chuck Jackson and, of course, Warwick.

Although his first love remains writing, Bacharach feels performing is another bonus of his illustrious career. He continues to do scores of concerts around the world each year. He is one artist who will always remain in the limelight no matter what endeavor he pursues.