Singer Burt Bacharach’s daughter Nikki died alone in her California apartment at the age of 40, and Bacharach has opened up about his daughter’s life and death in his new autobiography, Anyone Who Had a Heart: My Life and Music.
Burt Bacharach’s daughter Nikki was born prematurely, weighing just one pound and ten ounces when she arrived.
Nikki, whose mom was Angie Dickinson, died back in 2007 — and Bacharach admits that he was forced to finally face her loss when he decided to pen the book.
Of the difficult decision, he explains:
“It was very tough because I had to revisit what that period was and go deeper into it … [Nikki] was one-pound, 10 ounces at birth, you should know the deck is stacked against you then.”
When Nikki was growing up, the singer explains, psychiatry was not as advanced as it is today — and his troubled daughter suffered from what we now know to be Asperger’s Syndrome.
On the autism spectrum, Asperger’s can cause significant psychosocial stressors for sufferers, but Bacharach said back then, it was not diagnosed:
“Nobody said she’s got Asperger’s or she’s got autism. [Doctors suggested] she’s just got behavior things.”
Burt Bacharach’s daughter, the singer says, suffered with her issues to the point where it became difficult to determine when she was genuinely distraught — he said:
“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.’ “
“And you hear that enough and you know it’s never gonna happen and then one day she just goes and kills herself … When she did kill herself she did it alone, Textbook 101. Bag over her head. Alone. Kind of brave I guess for somebody who [had been] scared of so many things and [Nikki] left a note to me.”
Of his regrets, Bacharach says that sending her to a school to treat the issues Nikki had seemed like the best choice at the time, but caused some disharmony as the girl was separated from her mother:
“There was always that resentment that I kind of imprisoned her and the last thing in the world you know … I wish somebody would have just said, you’re not going to heal her, let her be.”
Nikki left a note, but Bacharach says he’s never been able to read it, and does not plan to — he explains:
“I know exactly what’s in the note. I never read the note. I never will. There is no need to read it. I already know what she said.”
Burt Bacharach’s daughter had a “very connected, symbiotic relationship” with her mother, the singer adds.