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Burt Bacharach  

Six decades into one of songwriting's most successful and honored careers - with scores of "firsts" and "#1s" - Burt Bacharach's music continues to set industry records and standards.

His audiences span all generations, and he is considered everything from one of the greatest of all composers to the "coolest cult hero" of the contemporary music set. People Magazine named his one of "the Sexiest Men Alive" for 2000, and one of "the 50 Most Beautiful People" in 1999. The Royal Albert Hall hosted a tribute to Bacharach and Hal David in July, 2000, to benefit Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy with performances by Petula Clark, Costello and Dionne Warwick, and the songwriting duo picked up the prestigious lifetime achievement award. Daily Variety named him the "American Music Legend" of 1998, noting "from hit songs to film scores, Burt Bacharach has turned pop conventions on their ear."

Rhino Records released "The Very Best of Burt Bacharach" in March 2001, featuring tracks with artists including Warwick, Dusty Springfield, The Carpenters and Jackie DeShannon. Rhino had earlier released a three-CD Greatest Hits collection in 1998, "The Look of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection." Tributes to the diversity and appeal of his music have been paid by recording artists from Costello ("I'll Never Fall in Love Again"), to Ben Folds Five, Krall, Barenaked Ladies, Sheryl Crow, Wynonna Judd, and Mike Myers. The Platinum-selling soundtrack from "My Best Friend's Wedding" featured several Bacharach songs, with interpretations by Ani DiFranco ("Wishin' and Hopin'") and Diana King, whose recording of "I Say A Little Prayer" hit the top of the charts. Bacharach currently divides his time between performing live concerts worldwide (including some with Warwick) and writing.

Bacharach's songs are in albums by artists including Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin and Nnenna Freelon, Linda Ronstadt, Neil Diamond, Warwick and Tevin Campbell. He was the subject of a PBS "Great Performances" biography, "Burt Bacharach: This is Now," which aired in May 1997. In April 1998, TNT launched its highly-acclaimed "TNT Masters Series" with "Bacharach: One Amazing Night," a special tribute show with many of today's hottest stars -- including Costello, Crow, Judd and Myers - performing his songs. The Warner Music International release "The Look of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection," entered the U.K. compilation charts at #4 in 2001.

With the special reverence the British hold for this gifted musician, Gabrielle's cover of a Burt Bacharach/Hal David hit, "Walk On By," entered the U.K. Top Ten at #9, in 1997. Bacharach and Costello were nominated for a Grammy Award in 1997 for their collaboration, "God Give Me Strength" (from the movie, "Grace of My Heart"). In 1997, he and David received the prestigious Trustees Award from NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) as part of the Grammy Awards broadcast. The Cranberries for the "If I Were A Carpenter" tribute album to Karen and Richard Carpenter recorded one of his standards, "Close To You." Michael Stipe of R.E.M also covered a Bacharach song, as did English notables Massive Attack and Paul Weller. Two more of his songs, "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" and "What the World Needs Now Is Love," were featured in "Forrest Gump" and on the film's top-selling soundtrack album. Along with Lennon and McCartney, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, Bacharach is a legend in popular music.

 He revolutionized the music of the 1950s and 1960s and remains one of America's most popular songwriters, bracketed with such famous names as Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers. As a record producer, he ranks with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Phil Spector and a handful of tough-minded musical visionaries who pioneered new forms of rhythm and blues from the early '60s through the end of the 20th Century. His music in the 1980s made as much of an impact as his early songs. "That's What Friends Are For" (recorded by Warwick with Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Gladys Knight) was the #1 song on both the "Hot 100/Pop" and "Adult Contemporary" charts for 1986, and it received the Grammy for "Song of the Year." Also, "On My Own" (recorded by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald) became the #1 R&B song for that year, and that Grammy nominee was #4 for 1986.

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. He began his career as a conductor and arranger, and toured widely for three years as accompanist-conductor for the legendary Marlene Dietrich. As a teenager, he was composing songs, and by the late 1950s some of his songs were hitting the charts in performances by artists from different segments of the popular music field. He wrote a number of country-rock classics for Gene Pitney and Marty Robbins. Soon afterwards, he established himself as one of the music industry's top producers, working with singers like Chuck Jackson and, of course, Warwick. With Warwick alone, Bacharach and David scored an incredible string of 39 chart records in ten years. At the same time artists from the Beatles to Tom Jones were recording their distinctive songs.

Bacharach broke new ground stylistically and won another Grammy Award for his collaboration with his lyricist David on the smash Broadway musical, "Promises, Promises." Although his first love remains writing, Bacharach feels performing is another bonus of his illustrious career. He is one artist who will always remain in the limelight no matter what endeavor he pursues.

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