Six decades into one of songwriting’s most successful and honored careers – marked by 48 Top 10 hits, nine #1 songs, more than 500 compositions and a landmark 49-year run on the charts, Burt Bacharach’s music continues to set industry records and creative standards. His audience spans several generations, and he is viewed as the unique combination of one of the greatest composers of all time and the “ultra-cool cult hero” of the contemporary music who often has several songs on various music charts simultaneously.
Along with Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, Bacharach is a legend of popular music. A recipient of three Academy Awards and seven Grammy Awards (including the 1997 Trustees Award with collaborator Hal David and 2005’s Best Pop Instrumental Album for AT THIS TIME), he revolutionized the music of the 1950s and 60s and is regularly bracketed with legendary names such as Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers. As a record producer, he ranks with Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Sir George Martin and a handful of visionaries who pioneered new forms of music during second half of the 20th Century into the 21st Century.
The composer recently produced, arranged and conducted two albums of his own songs, AT THIS TIME, a Grammy-winning social commentary featuring collaborations with Elvis Costello, Dr. Dre, Rufus Wainwright, Chris Botti and others. He also produced, arranged and conducted an album sung by R & B icon Ronald Isley, which remained on the BILLBOARD’S TOP R&B/Hip-Hop Album Chart for three months after its debut in November, 2003. In addition to 11 Bacharach/Hal David classics there are two songs which Bacharach wrote with Tonio K.
HERE I AM: RONALD ISLEY MEETS BURT BACHARACH wasn’t the only Bacharach composition on the recent charts. In one week in March, 2004, for example, Bacharach and David had a #1 hit on BILLBOARD’s Hot 100 with “Slow Jamz,” by Twista featuring Kanye West and Jamie Foxx which sampled the Luther Vandross version of “A House Is Not A Home,” a Modern Rock Tracks hit with “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself,” by the White Stripes, a Club Play Hit on the dance chart with Cyndi Lauper’s “Walk On By,” and Steve Tyrell’s THIS GUY’S IN LOVE album continued its chart run as #3 on the BILLBOARD’s Top Contemporary Jazz Album Charts.
Mike Myers, aka “Austin Powers,” considers Bacharach his lucky charm and has cast him in all three Austin Powers films. Bacharach recently performed on ABC-TV’s Dancing with the Stars and has been a special guest four times on the top-rated television series American Idol, with many of his songs performed by the young stars on the show. The finalists of American Idol recorded and released a charity single of the finalists’ version of the 1967 Bacharach classic “What The World Needs Now Is Love,” that became a #4 hit on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 Singles Sales chart in 2003.
Legendary singers, such as Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Linda Ronstadt, Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin, have recorded his songs. Other tributes to the diversity of Bacharach’s music have been paid by, among others, Elvis Costello (“I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”), REM, Cyndi Lauper, Diana Krall, Barenaked Ladies, Sheryl Crow, Wynonna Judd and Myers.
Of course, Bacharach has also enjoyed a celebrated career in film as well. His compositions include the Grammy-nominated Elvis Costello collaboration “God Give Me Strength” from Grace Of My Heart (1996); scores for Alfie (1966); What’s New Pussycat? (1965; the title song was a million-seller for Tom Jones); Casino Royale (1967; “The Look of Love” was gold for Dusty Springfield and Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66, and was a Top 10 hit for Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass); Night Shift (1982); Making Love (1982); Baby Boom (1987) and the film for which Bacharach received two Academy Awards and a Grammy award, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (1969) where “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” first appeared.
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. The response to his newest CD, AT THIS TIME and its political and social concerns, has been great, and Bacharach says any controversy is worth it. “I had to write this album. This is very personal to me, and this is the most passionate album I have ever made.” He is one artist who will always remain in the limelight no matter what endeavor he pursues.