Burt Bacharach, one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century, has died aged 94.
The US musician composed more than 500 songs during his career and was behind hits such as I Say A Little Prayer, Walk On By, Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, and Do You Know The Way To San Jose.
Bacharach had written for stars including Dionne Warwick, Cilla Black, Tom Jones and Dusty Springfield, and he provided a mellow alternative soundtrack to rock and roll in the 1960s and 1970s.
His music had quirky arrangements and unforgettable melodies, and more than 1,200 artists performed his songs.
Bacharach won six Grammys, including a lifetime achievement award, and three Oscars during his seven-decade career.
He died of natural causes at his home in the Los Angeles area on Wednesday with his family by his side.
Earning comparisons with American greats George Gershwin and Cole Porter, Bacharach started his career as a songwriter in the early 1950s, working with Hollywood star Marlene Dietrich, before forging a professional relationship with lyricist Hal David in 1957.
But it was when Bacharach and David met Dionne Warwick in 1961 that their talents really took flight, with 39 of her chart hits written by the pair.
Singer Noel Gallagher was among those paying tribute, writing on Instagram: “RIP Maestro. It was a pleasure to have known you.”
‘Innovative and original’
“I’m a person that always tries to deal with melody,” said Bacharach, speaking about his music talents.
David once told an interviewer: “He was just different. Innovative, original. His music spoke to me. I’d hear his melodies and I’d hear lyrics. I’d hear rhymes, I’d hear thoughts and I’d hear it almost immediately.”
Performing in concerts around the world late into his career, Bacharach had fans across the generations thanks to a resurgence of lounge music in the 1990s.
Remixes and samples of his work kept him in the public consciousness long after he stopped turning out the hits, as did Hollywood’s use of many of his tunes as soundtracks to their movies.
Despite being crowned the king of easy listening, his fans would argue his use of mixed meters and complex melodies made his compositions far from “easy”.
Later collaborations with stars as diverse as Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello and Dr Dre, plus a Pyramid Stage performance at Glastonbury Festival in 2015, proved the point that Bacharach never went out of fashion.
Bacharach tweeted his performance of Toledo with Costello three days before he passed.
On his Instagram page, a homage was paid to Bacharach as a “father, husband and friend”.
It continued: “He gave the world so much, and we are eternally grateful. The music is always there, so please keep listening.”
Bacharach married four times – the final time being in 1993 with his surviving wife Jane Hansen, and they had two children together.
‘A great inspiration’
More tributes were paid on social media, with the lead singer of The Charlatans, Tim Burgess, writing: “One of the greatest songwriting legacies in the history of ever. Farewell Burt Bacharach, you were a king.”
Journalist Tony Parsons tweeted: “If Elvis gave the music its body and Dylan gave the music its mind, then beautiful Burt Bacharach gave the music its grace, sophistication, and class.”
Dave Davies, guitarist for The Kinks, wrote that it was a “very sad day”.
He added: “[Burt] was probably one of the most influential songwriters of our time. He was a great inspiration.”