When Burt Bacharach passed away on February 8 in Los Angeles at the age of 94, he left behind an incredible musical legacy.

A six-time Grammy Award winner and a three-time Academy Award winner, he wrote 73 songs that hit the Top 40 here in the United States including four Number One songs – “This Guy’s In Love With You” (recorded by Herb Alpert in 1968, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” (B.J. Thomas 1969), “Arthur’s Theme (Best That I Can Do)” (Christopher Cross 1981), and “On My Own” (Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald).

Though probably best known for his songs recorded by Dionne Warwick and the Carpenters, Bacharach was also embraced by a number of rock artists.

Bacharach wasn’t fond of his music being labeled with tags like “middle of the road” or “easy listening” because he felt (and rightly so) that the complexity of his songs with regard to composition and chord changes was being dismissed.

It’s not all that difficult to listen to Bacharach’s music and make a connection to Steely Dan. In fact, Donald Fagen once described Bacharach’s music as “pop songs with (Maurice) Ravel-like chords.”

Here are five Burt Bacharach songs recorded by rock artists – some songs you may know and a couple my surprise you.

And make sure to check out the bonus track below for the Bacharach/Yarbirds/Led Zeppelin connection!

  • The Beatles - Baby It's You

    This song charted three times on the rock charts. The Shirelles put it into the Top 10 in 1961, followed by the Beatles in 1963 (just about a year before their initial appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show), and the band Smith who took it all the way to #5 in 1969.

    Though Bacharach never worked with the Beatles (Paul McCartney cited Bacharach as having a huge influence on his songwriting), they actually that he did once share a bill in 1963 at the Royal Variety Performance in London where John Lennon famously remarked, “Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you’d just rattle your jewelry.” Bacharach was the musical director for Marlene Dietrich who also performed that evening.

  • Manfred Mann - My Little Red Book

    Bacharach wrote this song for the film What’s New Pussycat? and had Manfred Mann record it twice – one version was in the movie itself and a slightly different version that appeared on the soundtrack album. The Los Angeles-based band Love would also go on to record this for their eponymous 1966 debut release.

  • Quarterflash - Night Shift

    The Portland OR band Quarterflash came out of the box HOT, scoring a number one on the rock charts in 1981 with “Harden My Heart.”

    A year later, they recorded the title track to the Ron Howard-directed movie Night Shift, written by Bacharach, Carole Bayer-Sager, and Marv Ross.

  • Pat DiNizio - This Guy's In Love With You

    In 2006, Pat DiNizio stepped out of his usual role as front man for the Smithereens and recorded an album of standards in his living room with just a piano player (Jay Rowe) for accompaniment.

    Inspired in part by a 1975 album by Tony Bennett and Bill Evans, DiNizio wrote in the liner notes that this was a collection of songs he grew up listening to that he wished he had written.

  • Glenn Frey - The Look of Love

    One of Bacharach;s best-known songs, it’s been recorded by everyone from Sergio Mendes to Dusty Springfield to Diana Krall.

    In 2012, Glenn Frey, founding member of the Eagles, released his fifth and final solo album After Hours.

    Inspired by the music his parents played at home when he was growing up, Frey explored a style of music on this album far from what he wrote and recorded both with the Eagles and on his previous solo efforts.

  • Elvis Costello - You Can Have Her

    It’s impossible to listen to songs like Costello’s “Alison” and not hear the influence of Burt Bacharach. And in fact, they worked together on a number of different occasions.

    “You Can Have Her” is from a forthcoming box set The Songs of Bacharach and Costello set for an early March 2023 release.

  • BONUS TRACK - Burt Bacharach With Half of Led Zeppelin

    By 1965, Bacharach had solidified his reputation as a songwriter to the extent that he released an album called Hit Maker! Burt Bacharach Plays His Hits.

    On the sessions for that record were a vocal group known as the Breakaways (that’s their voices you hear on Jimi Hendrix‘s recording of “Hey Joe”) and a collection of session players featuring two future rock greats, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, later of Led Zeppelin.

Sign me up for the WDHA D-Club email newsletter!

Join the WDHA D-Club for access to all the perks delivered right to your inbox from The Rock of New Jersey! Get exclusive presale codes for upcoming shows, updates with your favorite rockers, contest info, and more.

*
*
By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.