As news spreads of legendary composer Burt Bacharach’s death this morning at age 94, multiple “American Idol” stars are mourning the loss. Called “one of the most accomplished pop music craftsmen of the 20th century” by Billboard, Bacharach wrote 52 Top 40 hits during his iconic career. According to the New York Times, Bacharach died at his Los Angeles home on February 8, 2023, of natural causes.
Much of Bacharach’s success came from chart-topping love songs he wrote in the 60s, including his 1965 hit “What the World Needs Now Is Love.” He also won two Oscars for his songwriting and is credited with steering the early solo career of Dionne Warwick, who was one of many in the music industry he mentored, including multiple “Idol” alums.
Ruben Studdard & Clay Aiken Pay Tribute to Burt Bacharach
Ruben Studdard, who won the second season of “American Idol” in 2003, paid tribute to Bacharach with an Instagram post on February 9.
“As a contestant on @AmericanIdol I had the opportunity to meet several musical icons,” Studdard wrote. “This morning I found out that we’ve lost one of them. @burtbacharach not only wrote beautiful music but he forever shaped the American musical landscape with his chart topping songs.. #RIP @burtbacharach”
Clay Aiken, who was runner-up during season 2 and will soon embark on a 20th anniversary concert tour with Studdard, also wrote a tribute to Bachrach in his Instagram Stories, which included a video of the songwriter mentoring Aiken and his peers on “American Idol.”
Aiken wrote, “Mentor. Legend. Icon. Thanks, Burt, for a life full of music for a world filled with love. Rest in glory, Burt Bacharach.”
Burt Bacharach Made Multiple Appearances on ‘American Idol’
Bacharach was a fixture as a mentor on “American Idol” during its first years on FOX, but he was doubtful early on that the contestants — including Kelly Clarkson — would have any staying power in the music industry.
During the show’s first season in 2002, he mentored the Top 5 contestants, including Kelly Clarkson. After she won the show, Bacharach told the Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, Pennsylvania he wasn’t sure she’d be able to attract arenas full of fans.
He said he went on the brand new show to “work with the singers, coaching them and making sure the key was right” and he disagreed with which song Clarkson was going to sing.
“Kelly wanted to sing ‘Walk on By,’ but I thought she should sing ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart,’ he recalled, adding that he had little faith the show would have an impact on the music industry.
“That show is like last week’s newspaper,” he said at the time. “The voters have short-term memories. They don’t remember what you did last week. Kelly had a No. 1 hit record right away. This kid’s now out on the road. I’m not sure she can fill an arena.”
However, as the popularity of “Idol” soared, he continued to appear as a mentor and to allow the show to devote nights dedicated to his vast collection of songs, including a medley of his hits performed by the Top 6 contestants in 2013.
During season 2, on which Studdard and Aiken appeared, Bacharach returned to record a new arrangement of “What The World Needs Now Is Love” with the contestants. Michael Orland, who was music director for “Idol” for many years, wrote in his Instagram Stories that it remains one of his favorite memories.
He wrote, “Producing this single and working with this genius Songwriter for the season 2 idols was one of the greatest experiences of my life. RIP Burt Bacharach.”