Legendary songwriter Hal David dies at 91

Updated: 2012-09-02 09:54


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LOS ANGELES  - Hal David, a lyricist who along with composer Burt Bacharach took the pop world by storm in the 1960s with hits such as "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head" and "Walk on By," died in Los Angeles on Saturday at age 91, a representative said.

Legendary songwriter Hal David dies at 91

Songwriter Hal David poses for photographers as the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce honors him with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California in this October 14, 2011 file photo.[Photo/Agencies]

David died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of complications from a stroke, said Jim Steinblatt, spokesman for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, or ASCAP.

Earlier this year, David and Bacharach received the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from the Library of Congress, during a White House musical tribute.

David, a native of Brooklyn, New York, began his songwriting career in the late 1940s by collaborating with writers he had met at Manhattan's famed Brill Building, which at the time was the center of the pop industry.

He started working with Bacharach in the late 1950s and their songs were recorded by such artists as Frank Sinatra, Marty Robbins, Tom Jones and Barbra Streisand.

The singer most associated with the songwriting duo is Dionne Warwick, who rose to fame by scoring a number of Top 10 hits in the 1960s with material from David and Bacharach.

Bacharach's and David's song "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head" was written for the 1969 movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and won the Academy Award for Best Song.

They also won a Grammy in 1969 for best score from an original cast show album for their Broadway musical "Promises, Promises," which included the song "I'll Never Fall In Love Again." The play returned to Broadway in 2010 starring Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes.

The songwriting duo's other hits included "What the World Needs Now Is Love," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Do You Know the Way to San Jose," and "(They Long to Be) Close to You," which is best known from a version by the Carpenters.

David and Bacharach parted ways in the early 1970s. David went on to work with other composers. With Albert Hammond, he wrote the hit "To All the Girls I've Loved Before."

Eunice David, the songwriter's widow, who married him in 1988, said she used to watch him sit in an old rocking chair and write on a legal pad.

"All of a sudden, I'd look up and there it was filled with lyrics," she told Reuters. "It never ceased to amaze me how that happened."

Songwriter Paul Williams, president and chairman of ASCAP, said in a statement that David was "simple, concise and poetic."

"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," Williams said.

David served as president of ASCAP from 1980 to 1986.

His parents were immigrants from Austria. His older brother, Mack David also achieved success by composing or co-writing a number of songs, including the 1944 "Candy" and the English version of Edith Piaf's "La Vie En Rose."  

David is survived by his wife, sons Jim and Craig, three grandchildren and two stepsons.

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