70 facts about Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber for musical maestro’s 70th birthday

Andrew Lloyd Webber has written 20 award-winning musicals, owns six West End theatres and is worth around £750million.

He has been composing song with lyricist Tim Rice since 1965, and his first musical hit the stage half a century ago.

His shows have dominated the West End and Broadway throughout that time, with hits from Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Evita, Joseph and Jesus Christ Superstar familiar to generations.

As Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber turns 70 on Thursday March 22, here are 70 facts about the musical impresario…

1 He named his Really Useful Company after a phrase from Thomas the Tank Engine stories.

2 He’s a holder of the prestigious EGOT: an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.

3 His second wife, soprano Sarah Brightman, used to be a member of risque TV dance troupe Hot Gossip.

4 The first records he ever heard were Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite and Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock.

5 Musical prodigy Andrew was on the front cover of Nursery World magazine with a violin aged five.

6 He began playing the French horn and writing his own music at six.

7 He wrote his first stage musical in 1961, titled Cinderella Up the Beanstalk and Most Everywhere Else.

8 The Likes Of Us, based on the life of Dr Barnardo, was the first musical Andrew wrote with Tim Rice, in 1965.

9 Failing to find backing, it wasn’t performed until 2005, when Stephen Fry took the role of the narrator.

10 When it is performed now by amateur companies, some of the profits raised goes to the Barnardo’s charity.

11 The theme to ITV’s The South Bank Show was taken from a composition by Andrew and his cellist brother Julian.

12 On the original Jesus Christ Superstar album, Jesus was sung by Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan.

13 In the first West End production, in 1972, EastEnders and Just Good Friends star Paul Nicholas starred as Christ.

14 And in Sweden the same year, Mary Magdalene was played by Abba’s Agnetha Faltskog.

15 When JCS was filmed again in 1999, Rik Mayall played King Herod.

16 In the early 1970s, the Vatican’s radio station played the Jesus Christ Superstar album, to the disapproval of the official Vatican newspaper.

17 Lloyd Webber has starred on This Is Your Life twice, with Eamonn Andrews in 1980 and Michael Aspel in 1994.

18 Don’t Cry For Me Argentina was first recorded by Julie Covington and later by The Carpenters, Olivia Newton- John and Tom Jones.

19 During the Falklands War, British troops sang: “You don’t frighten me Argentina/ The truth is we will defeat you.”

20 For three weeks, Covington’s version was kept off number one by David Soul’s Don’t Give Up on Us.

21 According to Andrew, before she was PM, Margaret Thatcher used to stand at the back of Evita for the end of the first act and the beginning of the second.

22 He supports Leyton Orient FC.

23 Sting began his musical career playing bass for a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

24 Donny Osmond says his most embarrassing showbiz moment was when his loincloth fell off during Joseph.

25 Ian “H” Watkins from Steps, Gareth Gates, Stephen Gately and Joe McElderry have all starred in Joseph.

26 He is the only composer to have six productions running in London’s West End at the same time.

27 He was a Conservative life peer but only ever voted 42 times.

28 Cats is based on T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

29 Dame Judi Dench was set to play Grizabella for Cats’ original run in the West End, but pulled out after snapping her Achilles tendon.

30 Andrew took out a second mortgage on his home to get Cats off the ground.

31 A theatre goer in the US sued Cats after alleging the actor who played Rum Tum Tugger gyrated his pelvis in her face.

32 Cats’ first Broadway production used 3,247lb of yak hair for costumes.

33 Two years ago, he fell out with Nicole Scherzinger quit her role in Cats to appear on the X Factor.

34 On Cats v The Lion King, Andrew has said: “There is no debate about who were the first anthropomorphized felines on Broadway.”

35 His childhood dream was to be Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments.

36 After surgery for prostate cancer, he told Piers Morgan: “I am a ladies’ man who can never make love.”

37 He wrote Starlight Express when he couldn’t get permission for a Thomas the Tank Engine musical.

38 Spice girl Mel B auditioned for Starlight Express in 1995.

39 The top speed recorded by a skater in Starlight Express was 40mph.

40 Under the pseudonym Doctor Spin, Lloyd Webber released the hit single Tetris in 1992.

41 He is second in the Sunday Times Rich List – behind Sir Paul McCartney – for UK people
in music.

42 His son Nicholas, 38, is also a composer.

43 He was so nervous, he reportedly didn’t attended the Phantom of the Opera’s 1986 premiere.

44 The Phantom’s make-up takes two hours to apply.

45 His cat Otto destroyed the score for the Phantom sequel by jumping on the computer.

46 In the West End, he owns the Adelphi Theatre, Cambridge Theatre, Theatre Royal Drury Lane,

Her Majesty’s Theatre, London Palladium and New London Theatre.

47 Prince Edward once worked as a production assistant for the Really Useful Company.

48 He wrote a short musical Cricket (Hearts and Wickets), commissioned for Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th birthday.

49 Aspects of Love from 1988 has five tunes from Cricket.

50 Roger Moore was cast as George in the original West End production of Aspects of Love, but quit during rehearsals.

51 Andrew once said about leaving his fortune to his five kids: “I am not in favour of children suddenly finding a lot of money coming their way because then they have no incentive to work.”

52 Hugh Jackman caught his acting break in a 1996 production of Sunset Boulevard in Australia.

53 Actress Elaine Paige performed Just One Glance, an early version of With One Look from Sunset Boulevard, at Andrew’s wedding reception in 1991.

54 Andrew and Tim wrote Elvis’s 1977 song It’s Easy For You.

55 In 2004, Michael Crawford had to pull out of playing the obese character Count Fosco in Woman In White because of overheating in the fat suit.

56 Singer Jessie J was 11 when she was cast as Brat in the West End production of Whistle Down The Wind.

57 The same cast included actors Hannah Tointon and James Buckley and Sugababe Jade Ewen.

58 In 2009, Jade represented the UK in Eurovision with It’s My Time, composed by Andrew. They came fifth.

59 Boyzone’s cover of Whistle Down The Wind’s No Matter What sold three million copies worldwide.

60 The title of 2000’s The Beautiful Game was inspired by Pele’s autobiography, My Life and the Beautiful Game.

61 Let Us Love in Peace from The Beautiful Game was sung by Shonagh Daly as the closing song at the Ground Zero memorial service in October 2001.

62 Denise Van Outen, Marti Webb and Patsy Palmer have all starred in the one-woman show Tell Me On A Sunday.

63 Connie Fisher, the winner of Andrew’s talent show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria in 2006, found she had holes in her vocal chords and was told she would never sing again.

64 Lee Mead, who won talent show Any Dream Will Do, went on to marry Denise Van Outen, who was a judge on the BBC show. They split later.

65 Jessie Buckley, runner up of talent show I’d Do Anything in 2008, will star alongside Renee Zellweger in the new Judy Garland movie.

66 Former Hollyoaks actress and Celebrity Big Brother’s Stephanie Davis got her acting break on talent show Over The Rainbow in 2010.

67 Stephen Ward the musical, based on the Profumo affair, closed after four months on the West End in 2013 and was slammed as a flop by critics.

68 Andrew accepted an invitation from Donald Trump to have coffee during the primary US elections.

69 Phantom Of The Opera is the second highest grossing musical ever, raking in £4.2billion globally after the Lion King, which has made £5.6billion.

70 Andrew was criticised in 201 after flying across the Atlantic to vote for tax credit cuts for Britain’s poorest people, in the House of Lords.

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