Charles Spencer

Tim Rice: a hard graft to success

When one thinks of Tim Rice, one doesn’t exactly picture a man who has had a tremendous struggle to make it to the top.

When one thinks of Tim Rice, one doesn’t exactly picture a man who has had a tremendous struggle to make it to the top.

When one thinks of Tim Rice, one doesn’t exactly picture a man who has had a tremendous struggle to make it to the top. He met Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1965, wrote several world-conquering hit musicals with him, and later moved on to Disney where he got a slice of the action on Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, among others. Unlike his former colleague, who has so often appeared driven and troubled, Rice has always given every impression of enjoying life greatly.

But it wasn’t always plain sailing as a fascinating CD makes clear. That’s My Story: Words and Music by Tim Rice and Friends chronicles his early years as a young lyricist and record producer before the hits happened, when almost everything he had a hand in turned out to be a flop. Rice describes the period with wry good humour in his engaging sleeve notes. ‘For more than four years, from 1965 to 1969, my musical efforts whether as songwriter, record producer or even performer, were markedly unsuccessful — even after the first public performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in March 1968.’

His songwriting career began in earnest when he met Andrew Lloyd Webber in March 1965 and they embarked on their first stage musical together based on the life of the Victorian philanthropist Dr Thomas Barnardo, called The Likes of Us, and written in the style of Lionel Bart’s big hit, Oliver!

‘In our first three years together it was our principal concern,’ says Rice, but the score never saw the light of day until 2005, when he and Lloyd Webber marked the 40th anniversary of their first collaboration with a one-off performance of it at Lloyd Webber’s Sydmonton Festival, narrated by Stephen Fry.

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