Andrew Lloyd Webber Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
Childhood And Early Life
Andrew Lloyd Webber was born into a musical family in London on the 22 March 1948. His mother taught piano, and his father was the director of the London College of Music. At a young age, Lloyd Webber was a multi-instrumentalist and started composing music at the age of six. He has a brother Julian who is also a musician.
After high school, Lloyd Webber studied history at Magdalen College Oxford, but he later changed courses and decided to study at the Royal College of Music (1965).
Rise To Stardom
Lloyd Webber was still a student at the Royal College of Music when Tim Rice approached him regarding collaboration. Rice had heard about Lloyd Webber’s compositions and felt he could work with him as a lyricist. Lloyd Webber was seventeen at the time, Rice twenty years old. The pair started working together and produced their first musical shortly afterward, The Likes of Us which was not staged until 2005. The musical was based on the life of the philanthropist Thomas John Barnado.
Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Their second collaboration and their first musical operetta to be performed was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The operetta debuted at St Paul’s Juniors Preparatory School in London in 1968. Encouraged by his father William Lloyd Webber, the musical operetta was tweaked and expanded. A concept album came out in 1969. After the success of Jesus Christ Superstar in 1971, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was produced in London’s West End in 1973. An album was released in 1974, and the musical debuted on Broadway in 1982. In 1999 a video film was released with Donny Osmond in the lead role.
Jesus Christ Superstar
Lloyd Webber and Rice then came up with the concept of a biblical rock opera based on the last week of the life of Jesus Christ. It starts with Jesus arriving in Jerusalem and ends with the crucifixion. Some religious groups objected to the content and interpretation of the Bible.
It was banned in South Africa as being irreligious. Overall the rock opera was a phenomenal success, and Lloyd West won the 1972 Drama Desk Award for the Most Promising Composer. In 1973, the film Jesus Christ Superstar came out and was one of the highest-grossing films of the year. Leading cast members won nominations for Golden Globe Awards. In 1999, another film version was released, and this won an International Emmy Award for Best Performing Arts Film in 2001.
After the success of Jesus Christ Superstar Lloyd Webber collaborated with Alan Ayckbourn on Jeeves (1974). In 1976, he worked with Tim Rice again, and they produced Evita which contained the mega-hit Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. Evita was staged in London in 1978 and on Broadway in 1979.
The 1980s Onwards
Lloyd Webber composed Cats which is based on the work of British-American poet T.S. Eliot (b.1888-d.1965). Because he was using Eliot's poetry, he did not need a lyricist. After its opening in London, Cats ran for twenty-one years in the West End and for eighteen years on Broadway. Starlight Express followed, but his next mega-hit was The Phantom of the Opera based on Gaston Leroux’s novel. After its debut in 1986, the show’s continued popularity resulted in it becoming the longest-running Broadway show ever.
Lloyd’s output after the 1980s did not match the phenomenal success of that decade. His work included Sunset Boulevard (1994), Whistle Down the Wind (1998) and a film based on Cats (1998). He composed scores for The Beautiful Game (2000), Bombay Dreams (2002), The Woman in White (2004), The Sound of Music (2006) and also did a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies (2010) and a musical version of The Wizard of Oz (2011).
Awards And Achievements
Only three of Lloyd Webber’s musicals have not had a top three hit. He is the recipient of numerous awards including an Oscar in 1996 which Lloyd Webber shared with Tim Rice for Best Original Song, for You Must Love Me. He received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song Score and Adaptation for Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) and a Best Original Song nomination in 2004 for Learn To Be Lonely. Lloyd Webber shared a Golden Globe with Tim Rice for the 1997 Best Original Song for You Must Love Me and also won a Golden Globe nomination in 2004 for Best Original Song for Learn To Be Lonely from the 2004 film adaption of The Phantom of the Opera. He has also won seven Tony Awards, four Olivier Awards, and four Grammy Awards.
Lloyd Webber was knighted by the Queen in 1992 and 1997 he was made an honorary peer.
Lloyd Webber married Sarah Hugill in 1971. The couple had two children: Imogen (b.1977) and Nicholas (b.1979). They divorced in 1984, and he then married the soprano Sarah Brightman in 1984. Their relationship was the focus of much media speculation before they divorced in 1990. He is married to Madeleine Gurdon, whom he married in 1991. They have three children: Alistair (b.1992) William (b.1993) and Isabella Aurora (b.1996).
His wealth is estimated to be over a billion. Lloyd has been reported as saying that he does not intend leaving his fortune to his children as he does not believe in inherited wealth. He owns the Theatre Royal, London Palladium and Drury Lane Theatre in London and has an extensive art collection.
In 2013 Michael Ball hosted an IVT tribute special on Lloyd Webber’s life and achievements.
Diseases And Disabilities
Lloyd-Webber had surgery for prostate cancer in 2009.
The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation was set up in 1992 with the objective of promoting culture, heritage, and arts for the public benefit. By 2010, over 14 million pounds had been awarded the grants, scholarships, and programmes.
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