Photo by: Olaf Heine/Courtesy of the artist
Burt Bacharach’s six decade plus career of songwriting success began with a country song written with his longtime songwriting partner Hal David in 1957. The pair met in a songwriting office in New York’s Brill Building and their first recorded hit composition was The Story of My Life which Marty Robbins took to number one. This was followed by successful songs recorded by Perry Como and others. Bacharach had continued success in the early 60s with songs for the Drifters and Chuck Jackson before establishing the relationship that would produce some of his biggest hits.
Bacharach and Hal David would write well over 100 songs in the early sixties and Bacharach began taking a role in the studio. It was there he met Dionne Warwick and her sister Dee Dee. The songwriting pair and the sisters recorded a tune as Burt and the Backbeats. Soon he realized that Dionne Warwick had a special voice and began penning compositions for her. A steady string of hits flowed through the sixties.
Burt Bacharach had an impressive string of success in the sixties and early 70s with hit songs written by he and Hal David and recorded by Warwick plus Academy Award and Tony wins. Add in his marriage to the high profile actress Angie Dickinson and seemingly nothing could go wrong for him.
It did go wrong. Bacharach, David and Warwick split in a flurry of lawsuits and the marriage ended in divorce. Bacharach was most disappointed by the split with Hal David, reflecting in his 2013 autobiography on how many great songs they could have written if they had stayed together.
Bacharach experienced a commercial resurgence with a new songwriting partner in the 80s. He and new wife Carole Bayer Sager wrote two number one hits and won a Grammy before that relationship ended in 1991. Later in life he found himself rediscovered by newer artists, including a successful collaboration with Elvis Costello.
Bacharach and his first partner Hal David were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972 and in 2012 received the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from the Library of Congress.