West News Wire: Burt Bacharach, a uniquely talented and well-known composer who charmed millions with the unique arrangements and enduring melodies of “Walk on By,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” and dozens of other songs, has passed away at the age of 94.
Only Lennon-McCartney, Carole King, and a select few others have come close to matching his ability for writing instantly memorable songs that continue to be played, sung, and hummed decades after they were created. This is true throughout the past 70 years. From the 1950s to the 2000s, he had a string of top 10 songs, and his music could be heard on everything from iPods to home stereo systems to movie soundtracks whether “Alfie” and “I Say a Little Prayer” or “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” and “This Guy’s in Love with You.”
Dionne Warwick was his favorite interpreter, but Bacharach, usually in tandem with lyricist Hal David, also created prime material for Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones and many others. Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Frank Sinatra were among the countless artists who covered his songs, with more recent performers who sung or sampled him including White Stripes, Twista and Ashanti. “Walk On By” alone was covered by everyone from Warwick and Isaac Hayes to the British punk band the Stranglers and Cyndi Lauper.
Bacharach was both an innovator and throwback, and his career seemed to run parallel to the rock era. He grew up on jazz and classical music and had little taste for rock when he was breaking into the business in the 1950s. His appeal often seemed more aligned with Tin Pan Alley than with Bob Dylan, John Lennon and other writers who later emerged, but rock composers appreciated the depth of his seemingly old-fashioned sensibility.
In the 21st century, he was still testing new ground, writing his own lyrics and recording with rapper Dr. Dre.
He was married to his first wife, Paula Stewart, from 1953-58, and married for a fourth time, to Jane Hansen, in 1993. He is survived by Hansen, as well as his children Oliver, Raleigh and Cristopher, Brausam said. He was preceded in death by his daughter with Dickinson, Nikki Bacharach.