Legendary lyricist Hal David dies

Writer teamed with Burt Bacharach

LOS ANGELES – Hal David, the stylish, heartfelt lyricist who teamed with Burt Bacharach on dozens of timeless songs for movies, television and a variety of recording artists in the 1960s and beyond, has died. He was 91.

David died of complications from a stroke Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to his wife, Eunice David.

He had suffered a major stroke in March and was stricken again on Tuesday, she said.

Bacharach and David were among the most successful teams in modern history, with top 40 hits including “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” “(They Long to Be) Close to You” and “That’s What Friends Are For.” Although most associated with Dionne Warwick, their music was recorded by many of the top acts of their time, from Barbra Streisand to Frank Sinatra to Aretha Franklin. They won an Oscar for “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” (from the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”), and Grammys and Tonys for the songs from the hit Broadway musical “Promises, Promises.”

In May, Bacharach and David received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song during a White House tribute concert attended by President Barack Obama.

Bacharach, 83, thanked Obama, saying the award for his life’s work topped even the Oscars and Grammys he won for individual projects. David could not attend because he was recovering from a stroke. Eunice David accepted on his behalf.

“It was thrilling,” she said. “Even though he wasn’t there, Hal said it was the highest honor he had ever received.”

More than 55 years after their first songs hit the airwaves, Obama said “these guys have still got it.” He noted their music is still being recorded by such artists as Alicia Keys and John Legend.

David and Bacharach met when both worked in the Brill Building, New York’s legendary Tin Pan Alley song factory where writers cranked out songs and attempted to sell them to music publishers.

In 1962 they began writing for a young singer named Dionne Warwick, whose versatile voice conveyed the emotion of David’s lyrics and easily handled the changing patterns of Bacharach’s melodies. Together the trio created a succession of popular songs.


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