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Oscar-winning songwriter Hal David dead at 91

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Hal David, an Oscar- and Grammy-winning lyricist who produced dozens of hit songs with composer Burt Bacharach, died in Los Angeles. He was 91.

David died of complications from a stroke, according to Jim Steinblatt, spokesman for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers that the songwriter once led.

Bacharach and David’s long series of hits during their collaboration from the 1950s through the 1970s included “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” “What The World Needs Now Is Love” and “What’s New Pussycat?”

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As a lyric writer, Hal was simple, concise and poetic – conveying volumes of meaning in (the) fewest possible words and always in service to the music,” ASCAP president and chairman Paul Williams said in a statement.

“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.”

Music legends such as The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand recorded the duo’s music, along with their longtime partner Dionne Warwick.

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

David, who was president of the ASCAP from 1980 to 1986, led the Songwriters Hall of Fame as chairman and CEO for a decade ending last year, and was chairman emeritus until his death.

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His first major hit came somewhat late in life – with “Magic Moments,” recorded in 1957 with Perry Como – when David was already in his late 30s.

He also found success on Broadway, with musicals like “Promises, Promises,” which ran for 1,281 performances after debuting in 1968.

Revived on Broadway in 2010, it was nominated for a Tony Award and won a Grammy Award for Cast Album of the Year.

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Some of their popular songs were also commissioned for movie scores and themes, including “Alfie,” “What’s New Pussycat,” “Casino Royale,” “The April Fools” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

Their hit song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” written for “Butch Cassidy,” received the 1969 Academy Award for Best Song.

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The lyrical duo also got a nomination for Best Song Oscars for “The Look of Love” from “Casino Royale” and the title songs from “Alfie” and “What’s New Pussycat?”

David’s words can also be found in the popular wedding song “(They Long to Be) Close to You.”

Bacharach and David parted in the early 1970s, and David subsequently collaborated with other composers, including John Barry and Albert Hammond, with whom he wrote the international hit “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before.”

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David was born on May 25, 1921 to Austrian immigrants Gedalieh and Lina Goldberg David. Hal’s older brother Mack was also a songwriter who penned such hits as “La Vie en Rose,” “Candy” and “Bibiddi-Bobbidi-Boo.”

During World War II, David served in the Army Entertainment Section.

Later in life, David became active in protecting the copyrights of music creators.

He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and received a slew of honorary doctorates and awards, including the Ivor Novello Award of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

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David’s first wife Anne died in 1987. He is survived by his wife Eunice and his sons Jim David and Craig David, as well as three grandchildren and two stepsons.

[Image taken from Hollywood Walk of Fame induction video for Hal David, posted on YouTube Oct. 19 2011.]


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