Oscar Winning Lyricist Hal David Dies at 91

Hal David

Hal David


Former ASCAP and ASCAP Foundation President Teamed with Burt Bacharach to Create Dozens of Hit Songs

Los Angeles, September 1, 2012. ASCAP member and former President, Hal David, who achieved world-wide recognition as the Oscar and Grammy Award-winning lyricist of numerous American song standards, died at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles on September 1, 2012 at the age of 91 of complications from a stroke. David, a native of Brooklyn, New York, teamed with composer Burt Bacharach beginning in the late 1950s to create a legendary body of hit songs-- that remains unequaled to this day-- that were recorded by artists including Marty Robbins, Perry Como, Bobby Vinton, Gene Pitney, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, Herb Alpert, Jackie DeShannon, B.J. Thomas, Frank Sinatra, the Fifth Dimension, the Carpenters, Barbra Streisand, and, most notably, Dionne Warwick. In May of 2012, President Barack Obama presented the prestigious Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to David and Bacharach at a White House musical tribute. David, a member of the ASCAP Board of Directors since 1974, served as President of ASCAP and The ASCAP Foundation from 1980 to 1986. A fundraiser, Love Sweet Love, A Musical Tribute to Hal David honoring Hal’s 90th birthday took place last fall and benefited the Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival and The ASCAP Foundation. It was the most successful ASCAP Foundation fundraiser to date, reflecting the Davids’ long-standing commitment to arts and music education. In recent years, David led the Songwriters Hall of Fame as Chairman and CEO from 2001 to 2011, and was Chairman Emeritus at his death.


Commenting on the passing of Hal David, current ASCAP President & Chairman Paul Williams, said: “Hal David has been a great inspiration to me both as a songwriter, a mentor, and as a leader of ASCAP. 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. 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. ASCAP enjoyed Hal’s devoted service and leadership for nearly four decades as a Board member and six years as President. He was always able to see the big picture when it came to the music business and was one of the most respected and valued voices in our music community. His concern for his fellow ASCAP members was always paramount. To me, he was a faithful friend and supporter, whom I will miss deeply. I know that all of ASCAP’s members join me in mourning his loss.”

Hal David was born on May 25, 1921 to Gedalieh and Lina Goldberg David, an immigrant couple from Austria. Hal’s older brother, Mack (1912-- 1991), preceded him as a songwriter, achieving success with such hits as “La Vie en Rose,” “Candy,” "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" and “Bibiddi-Bobbidi-Boo.” Hal studied journalism at New York University before joining the military during World War II. He served in the Army Entertainment Section alongside future comedy star and film director Carl Reiner, under the command of Maurice Evans.

Following the War, Hal began working with songwriters he’d meet at the center of New York’s popular song industry, the Brill Building. David’s first major hit was a 1949 collaboration with composer Don Rodney, “The Four Winds and the Seven Seas,” recorded by Vic Damone. Other early David hits written with composers other than Bacharach include: “The Bell Bottom Blues”(with Sherman Edwards for Teresa Brewer), “Broken Hearted Melody” (with Leon Carr for Sarah Vaughan), “Sea of Heartbreak” (with Paul Hampton for Don Gibson), “Johnny Get Angry” (with Sherman Edwards for Joanie Sommers) and“ My Heat’s an Open Book” (with Lee Pockriss for Carl Dobkins, Jr.).

The Bacharach and David collaboration yielded success with Marty Robbins’ recording of “The Story of My Life” in 1957. The team continued to enjoy hits with Perry Como (“Magic Moments”), Bobby Vinton (“Blue on Blue”), Jack Jones (“Wives and Lovers”), and Gene Pitney (“Only Love Can Break a Heart,” “24 Hours from Tulsa,” “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”). In 1962, the team began working as writers and producers with a young vocalist from New Jersey named Dionne Warwick. “Don’t Make Me Over” was the first in a lengthy line of major hits that would also include “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “Walk on By,” “Reach Out for Me,” “You’ll Never Get to Heaven If You Break My Heart,” “A House Is Not a Home,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Message to Michael,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” Alfie” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” among many others. Other iconic Bacharach & David song hits include “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” recorded in 1965 by Jackie DeShannon, “This Guy’s in Love with You,” a #1 for Herb Alpert in 1968, and “(They Long to Be) Close to You,” a #1 hit for The Carpenters in 1970.

The Bacharach/David magic was also sought by British Invasion stars of the 1960s. Dusty Springfield achieved hits with “Wishin’ and Hopin’” and “The Look of Love;” Sandie Shaw charted with "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me;" and Tom Jones reached the Top Ten with “What’s New Pussycat.” Bacharach and David were also called upon to create motion picture song scores and themes in the 1960s – these included Alfie, What’s New Pussycat, Casino Royale, The April Fools and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.Their #1 song, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” written for Butch Cassidy and recorded by B.J. Thomas, was honored with the 1969 Academy Award for Best Song. In addition, David and Bacharach were nominated for Best Song Oscars for “The Look of Love” from Casino Royale and the title songs from What’s New Pussycat and Alfie..

In musical theater, Bacharach and David created the score for Promises,Promises, which debuted on Broadway in 1968 and ran for 1281 performances. The score - featuring the hits, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” and “Promises, Promises” – was nominated for a Tony Award and won a Grammy Award for Cast Album of the Year. Promises, Promises was successfully revived on Broadway in 2010.

David and Bacharach went separate ways in the early 1970s; David went on to collaborate with other composers, including Albert Hammond (with whom he wrote “99 Miles from L.A.” and the international smash, “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”)” and John Barry (“Theme from Moonraker”).

David became increasingly involved as a music industry leader intent on protecting the copyrights of music creators, frequently bringing that message to members of Congress President of ASCAP. David’s philanthropic efforts have included work on behalf of the Los Angeles Music Center and serving on the board of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. His honors include induction into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame; receipt of the Songwriters Hall of Fame Johnny Mercer and Visionary Leadership Awards; the Ivor Novello Award of the British Academy of Composers And Songwriters (the first American ever to receive this honor); and several honorary doctorates.

Hal David’s first wife, Anne, died in 1987. He is survived by his wife, Eunice, of Los Angeles, and his sons, Jim David of Studio City, California and Craig David of Clyde, Texas and three grandchildren, Adam, Sarah and Jorden; and two stepsons, KC Forester and Donald Forester.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to:

The ASCAP Foundation (www.ascapfoundation.org/donate)
The ASCAP Foundation
One Lincoln Plaza
New York, NY 10023


The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts,
9911 West Pico Blvd., Suite 608,
Los Angeles, CA 90035.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a professional membership organization of songwriters, composers and music publishers of every kind of music. ASCAP’s mission is to license and promote the music of its members and foreign affiliates, obtain fair compensation for the public performance of their works and to distribute the royalties that it collects based upon those performances. ASCAP members write the world’s best-loved music and ASCAP has pioneered the efficient licensing of that music to hundreds of thousands of enterprises who use it to add value to their business - from bars, restaurants and retail, to radio, TV and cable, to Internet, mobile services and more. The ASCAP license offers an efficient solution for businesses to legally perform ASCAP music while respecting the right of songwriters and composers to be paid fairly. With 450,000 members representing more than 8.5 million copyrighted works, ASCAP is the worldwide leader in performance royalties, service and advocacy for songwriters and composers, and the only American performing rights organization (PRO) owned and governed by its writer and publisher members.

About The ASCAP Foundation
Founded in 1975, The ASCAP Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education and talent development programs. Included in these are songwriting workshops, grants, scholarships, awards, recognition and community outreach programs for songwriters, composers and lyricists. The ASCAP Foundation is supported by contributions from ASCAP members and from music lovers throughout the United States. www.ascapfoundation.org