NEW YORK — Burt Bacharach knew writing a memoir would be emotional, not because of his never-heard backstage tales or his tumultuous marriages. He knew that being honest would force him to come to terms with the death of his daughter.
“It was very tough because I had to revisit what that period was and go deeper into it,” he said of his daughter Nikki’s premature birth, years of emotional issues, and eventual suicide at age 40.
The 84-year-old award-winning music composer of such classics as “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” the Oscar-winning “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” and The Carpenters’ “(They Long to Be) Close to You,” understood that baring his deep, dark secrets was essential to his recently released autobiography, “Anyone Who Had a Heart: My Life and Music” (Harper).
The idea for a memoir came long before Nikki’s death in 2007. Bacharach had Nikki with former wife Angie Dickinson, best-known for her role on the ’70s drama, “Police Woman.”
“(Nikki) was 1 pound, 10 ounces at birth; you should know the deck is stacked against you then,” Bacharach said.
According to Bacharach, she grew up with emotional issues, which he later found out was an undiagnosed case of Asperger’s syndrome (The autism spectrum disorder is a relatively new diagnosis.).
“Nobody said she’s got Asperger’s or she’s got autism. (They said) she’s just got behavior things,” he said.
But after suffering for so long, he never imagined she would kill herself.
“It’s like the boy who cried wolf. Somebody who says, ‘I can’t stand it. The helicopters are making too much noise and the gardeners and the blowers are making too much noise, and if they don’t stop I’m going to kill myself,’ ” he said, his voice cracking. “And you hear that enough and you know it’s never gonna happen, and then one day she just goes and kills herself.”
He later realized that the signs were always there, but thought that the strong relationship she had with her mother would prevent it from ever happening.
“They had a very connected, symbiotic relationship,” he said, adding, “We all did everything we could.”