Legendary Composer Burt Bacharach Dies At Age 94

Burt Bacharach, the legendary songwriter behind hits like “Walk on By,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” and “I Say a Little Prayer,” has died. He was 94. Bacharach died of natural causes on Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles, his publicist Tina Brausam told the Associated Press.

The six-time Grammy-winner has been nominated by the Recording Academy 21 times. The late star also won three Academy Awards (forArthur and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972. Two decades later, he received the The Johnny Mercer Award in 1996, which is the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s most revered honor.

The composer was best known for his decades-long partnership with lyricist Hal David, with whom he penned dozens of hits, including many for Dionne Warwick.

“Bacharach and [Hal] David both were as new to this industry as I was, so we kind of all grew together,” Warwick told PEOPLE last year of their early days. “There was really no need for them to think that they could change anything about me—and what developed was magical, I got to tell you that. We became best friends, most family than friends, actually, and a relationship that lasted for quite a long time.” Bacharach reflected on the fruitful partnership to PEOPLE in 2019, and praised the “tremendous musicality” of Warwick, whom he and David met in the early 1960s, when she was a backup singer.

“She had a voice that was like glass; it was so clean, it was so pure and so distinctive, and you could immediately know it was Dionne,” he said. In 2018, Bacharach teamed up with Latin composer Rudy Pérez for the song “Live to See Another Day,” with a charitable component. The tune was in response to school shootings, which were occurring far too often in the U.S. at the time.

Born in Missouri on May 12, 1928 and raised in Queens, New York, Bacharach’s mom, a painter and songwriter, enlisted him in piano lessons throughout his youth. But he was known to have disliked his classical piano lessons, opting for his interest in jazz music instead. “I thought it would really hurt my mom’s feelings,” Bacharach told Entertainment Weekly in 1997 of continuing his lessons. “That’s the only reason I did not stop.” Bacharach went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in music. During his undergraduate matriculation, the hitmaker studied a wide range of music, including jazz harmony which has heavily influenced his style through the years.

After concluding his tour of duty in the U.S. Army, Bacharach served as a pianist and conductor for late singer Vic Damone for three years. He eventually went on to become a music director for late actress-singer Marlene Dietrich. The turning point in Bacharach’s career was when he began collaborating with Hal David, whom he met in 1957 at the Brill Building in New York City. “He seemed like a nice enough guy. Pretty good work ethic,” Bacharach told EW. “He’d come in, put his hours in, get in his car, and go home.”

The two wrote “The Story of My Life,” recorded by Marty Robbins, and it became a No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Country chart in 1957. In his later years, Bacharach made memorable cameo appearances in Mike Myers’ Austin Powers movies, a franchise the comedian said was inspired by hearing Bacharach’s song “The Look of Love” on the radio. “Burt Bacharach is the ultimate cool American,” Myers told PEOPLE in 1999. “He’s laid-back with that cool, husky voice. Chicks find him dreamy.”

In 2008, Bacharach received the Recording Academy’s coveted Lifetime Achievement Award. He is survived by his fourth wife, Jane Hansen, whom he married in 1993, and children Oliver, Raleigh and Christopher. Bacharach was preceded in death by daughter Nikki, whom he shared with ex-wife Angie Dickinson.

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