Magazine article Variety

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Magazine article Variety

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Article excerpt

MY FIRST TIME IN VARIETY

"At the time, we also had to contend with the rumor that John Lennon was going to play Jesus. That was a lovely bit of fabrication."

It's a big year for Andrew Lloyd Webber. "The Phantom of the Opera," the longest-running show on Broadway just celebrated its 30th birthday, and Lloyd Webber himself turns 70 later this month. In celebration, the Broadway mega-composer has a new memoir, "Unmasked," hitting shelves, while a multidisc collection of his hits, "Andrew Lloyd Webber Unmasked: The Platinum Collection," drops March 16, featuring songs from "Phantom""Cats""Evita""Jesus Christ Superstar,""School of Rock" and more, recorded by the likes of Lana Del Rey, Beyoncé, Barbra Streisand and Madonna.

His first mention in Variety came on Nov. 19, 1969, when the release of the single "Superstar" (the precursor to the concept album "Jesus Christ Superstar," which became the stage musical) sparked speculation about potential religious protests. The outcry never came, nor did much attention at all, at least not in the U.S. or the U.K. - not at first. But the release did serve to launch Lloyd Webber's ultra-successful career.

What did you think, taking a look at this news clip now?

It rather amused me. It's kind of like one of those wonderful pieces of journalism buried in the middle of the paper trying to suggest that it would be a huge controversy. It mentions a presentation at St. Paul's. That never happened. Of course, at the time, we also had to contend with the rumor that John Lennon was going to play Jesus. That still sits in the cuttings and is now on the internet somewhere. There was never any thought of him doing it. That was a lovely bit of fabrication.

What was the reaction to that first single?

Well, nobody was interested in an idea of a musical of Jesus Christ. Conventional theater producers thought it was a pretty awful idea, and the single came out to resounding indifference in Britain. …

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