Hal David, the lyricist behind such standards as “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” and “What the World Needs Now is Love,” has died at 91, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers said Saturday.
The Oscar- and Grammy-winning songwriter, who teamed with musician Burt Bacharach on dozens of hit songs, died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles from complications of a stroke, ASCAP said.
David started working with Bacharach in the late 1950s on tunes recorded by artists including Perry Como, Gene Pitney, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, the Carpenters, Barbra Streisand and Dionne Warwick. In May, President Barack Obama and the first lady hosted a concert honoring Bacharach and David as part of the “In Performance at the White House” series.
“As a lyric writer, Hal was simple, concise and poetic — conveying volumes of meaning in fewest possible words and always in service to the music,” ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams said. “It is no wonder that so many of his lyrics have become part of our everyday vocabulary and his songs … the backdrop of our lives.”
Singer Smokey Robinson on Saturday said David was one of his songwriting idols when he was growing up.
“I hope that the music world will join together in celebrating the life of one of our greatest composers ever,” Robinson said in a statement Saturday. “I will really miss my friend but I will celebrate his life and he will live on-and-on through his incredible musical contribution.”
Lyricist Carole Bayer Sager, who also worked extensively with then-husband Burt Bacharach, said David made Bacharach’s melodies seem “effortless.”
David was president of ASCAP from 1980 till 1986.
The Recording Academy called David an “exquisite lyricist” whose work has left a “lasting impact on our culture.”
He was born in Brooklyn, New York, to parents who had immigrated from Austria. He studied journalism at New York University before joining the military during World War II.
Returning to New York after the war, he began working with songwriters he met at the famous Brill Building, which at the time was the center of the city’s song industry, ASCAP said.
It was his collaboration with Bacharach that proved the most fruitful. They were some of the first to work with Warwick when she was a young vocalist.
They also helped Herb Alpert to No. 1 with “This Guy’s in Love With You” and wrote The Carpenters’ No. 1 hit “(They Long to Be) Close to You.”
British Invasion stars like Springfield and Sandie Shaw sought the pair’s talents in the 1960s, and they got Tom Jones into the Top 10 with “What’s New Pussycat.”
The pair’s accomplishments extended to stage and screen as well. They wrote scores and themes for 1960s films including “Alfie” and “Casino Royale.” Their “Raindrops” tune was written for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and reached No. 1.
They wrote the score for the musical “Promises, Promises,” which was nominated for a Tony Award and won a Grammy for best Cast Album of the Year in 1970.
David parted ways with Bacharach in the early 1970s, but he went on to work with other composers, including Albert Hammond — with whom he wrote “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before.”
His first wife, Anne, died in 1987. He is survived by his wife, Eunice; two sons, three grandchildren, and two stepsons.
David’s older brother Mack, who died in 1991, was also a famous songwriter who wrote such hits as “La Vie en Rose,” “Candy,” and “Bibiddi-Bobbidi-Boo.”