Wheeler Front

Burt Bacharach 07

December 27, 2007

Six decades into one of songwriting’s most successful and honored careers—marked by forty-eight Top 10 hits, nine No. 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. At This Time, his 2005 album which won the Grammy for Best Pop Instru­mental Album, breaks 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 marks the first time Bacharach takes on social and political issues in his music.

Bacharach is a legend of popular music. A recipient of three Academy Awards and seven Grammy Awards, he 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 into the 21st century.

After six decades of writing love songs, Bacha­rach has shifted his attention to his indignation over the state of the world in his latest 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.” The album was released in the U.S. by Columbia Records and internationally by Sony BMG in late fall 2005, and immediately became a critical success and a 2005 Grammy winner.

His songs have been recorded by legendary singers, such as Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Linda Ronstadt, Dionne Warwick and Franklin. Other tributes to the diversity of Bacharach’s music have been paid by, among others, Elvis Costello (“I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” and “God Give Me Strength”), REM, 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 “Alfie” (1966); “What’s New Pussycat?” (1965); “Casino Royale” (1967); “Arthur” (1981); “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 Falling on My Head” first appeared.

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 Hal David. That particular pairing resulted in scores of Top 10 records—with 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, Boguslav Martinu, and Henry Cowell.

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.

This performance was co-sponsored with the Wheeler Opera House.

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