Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 23rd 2013 Contents B40
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, May 23, 2013
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 daugh-
"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 emo-
tional issues, and eventual suicide at the age of 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 seventies drama, "Police
"(Nikki) was one-pound, 10 ounces at birth, you
should know the deck is stacked against you then,"
According to Bacharach, she grew up with emo-
tional issues, which he later found out was an undi-
agnosed 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 behaviour things,"
But after suffering for so long, he never imagined
she would actually 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."
She committed suicide in her southern California
"When she did kill herself she did it alone, Text-
book 101. Bag over her head. Alone. Kind of brave
I guess for somebody who (was) scared of so many
things and (she) left a note to me."
He later realised that the signs were always there,
but thought that the strong relationship she had
with her mother would prevent it from ever hap-
"They had a very connected, symbiotic relation-
ship," he said, adding, "We all did everything we
could. I did what I thought would be the right thing
and it wasn t the right thing and I was just trying
to get her better."
Bacharach was referring to the painful decision
to send her away to a special school. He feels he
made the decision because Nikki was not properly
diagnosed. Because Nikki spent some time away
from her mother, he feels she always held that
"There was always that resentment that I kind
of imprisoned her and the last thing in the world
you know," he said.
"I wish somebody would have just said, you re
not going to heal her, let her be."
Asperger s syndrome is a pervasive developmental
disorder on the autism spectrum. People with
Asperger s often have high intelligence and vast
knowledge on narrow subjects but lack social skills.
With his family struggles hidden from the world,
Bacharach continued to make great music.
"I was always able to alleviate the noise, some
of the noise with what was going on with Nikki
becoming a Sikh, or whatever, because I would go
to my music. ... It was during that time I scored
What s New Pussycat, I scored the first Casino
Royale. I would get engrossed in my music because
there s no other way for me."
And while he continues to make music (he has
an upcoming project for a musical with Elvis Costel-
lo), Bacharach is still haunted by her death. When
they discovered the body, Nikki had left him a note.
"I know exactly what s in the note. I never read
the note. I never will," Bacharach said as his voice
"There is no need to read it. I already know what
she said." (AP)
Composer Burt Bacharach. AP PHOTO
Bacharach deals with
daughter's death in memoir
'I was always able to
alleviate the noise, some of
the noise with what was
going on with Nikki
becoming a Sikh, or
whatever, because I would
go to my music. ... It was
during that time I scored
What's New Pussycat,' I
scored the first 'Casino
Royale. I would get
engrossed in my music
because there's no other
way for me.'
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