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28 Feb 2008

Unforgettable People (XI): Tim Rice

According to Wikipedia, Sir Timothy Miles Bindon Rice (November 10, 1944) is best known for his collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber, with whom he wrote Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, and his work for The Walt Disney Company with Alan Menken and Sir Elton John. He also collaborated with Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA on Chess and with Rick Wakeman on the concept albums 1984 and Cost of Living.

Born in Buckinghamshire, England, Rice entered the world of popular music as the lead singer for a pop group called the Aardvarks (1961-1963), and went on to sing occasionally with other sixties rock groups. His first published song, "That's My Story," appeared in 1965, the same year he met Andrew Lloyd Webber.

For eltonites, Sir Tim Rice is known since he teamed up with Elton for “Legal Boys” on 1982. When Jeffrey Katzenberg asked in 1991 Tim Rice to write lyrics for an animated musical about the life of a lion, Tim said “Elton was my first choice (to put music to) I didn’t think they could get him, to be honest, but they did”. So Tim phoned Elton saying he could have the lyrics for “Circle Of Life” that afternoon, giving Elton three days to compose. But Elton didn’t want or need the lyrics then, asking Tim to bring them with him the next day: and Elton composed the great opener song from the movie.

In 1996, there were three new songs to write for the stage version of “The Lion King”, and many more for an update of Verdi’s opera Aida, another Disney project. Disney gave Elton this project because he hadn’t wanted to follow up “The Lion King” with another cartoon: “Give me something dangerous” exclaimed Elton. But Sir Tim Rice thought that the cast album is much better than the All-Stars 1999 Collection of songs because “none of the performers had a clue what the whole project was about, they all did it as a favour to Elton”.

He released his autobiography Oh What a Circus - The Autobiography of Tim Rice in 1998, which covered his childhood and early adult life until the opening of the original London production of Evita in 1978. A sequel covering his life since then is in production.

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