Leslie Bricusse (born January 29, 1931) is a double Oscar and Grammy winning English composer, lyricist, and playwright, most prominently working in musicals and also film theme songs. Born on January 29, 1931, in London, England, Bricusse was educated at University College School in London and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. While at Cambridge University, he was Secretary of Footlights between 1952 and 1953 and Footlights President during the following year. There, he co-authored, directed and performed in his first two musical shows, “Out of the Blue” and “Lady at the Wheel,” both of which made their way to London’s West End. He also found time in the gaps to acquire a Master of Arts Degree and founded the Musical Comedy Club.
The late, great Beatrice Lillie plucked Bricusse out of the Footlights Revue at the Phoenix Theatre, and made him her leading man in “An Evening with Beatrice Lillie” at the Globe Theatre, where he spent the first year of his professional life writing another musical, “The Boy on the Corner,” and the screenplay and score of his first motion picture, “Charley Moon,” which won him his first Ivor Novello Award. That year he decided to drop the possibilities of directing and performing, and concentrate his career on becoming a full-time writer-composer-Iyricist. He currently lives in California in the United States, and he is married to actress Yvonne Romain. They have a son, Adam, born April 4, 1964.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Bricusse enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Anthony Newley. They wrote the musical Stop the World – I Want to Get Off (1961) which was successful in London and on Broadway, and was made into a film version in 1966. Also in collaboration with Newley, Bricusse wrote The Roar of the Greasepaint—the Smell of the Crowd (1965) and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), based on the children’s book by Roald Dahl, and for which they received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song Score. When he collaborated with Newley, the two men referred to themselves as the team of “Brickman and Newburg”, with “Newburg” concentrating mainly on the music and “Brickman” on the lyrics. Ian Fraser often did their arrangements.
Working solely as a lyricist, he collaborated with composer Cyril Ornadel on Pickwick (1963), based on Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers, a successful vehicle for Harry Secombe. Later collaborators included Henry Mancini (Victor Victoria in 1982) and John Williams (Hook in 1991). As composer and lyricist he scored the successful film Doctor Dolittle (1967), for which he received an Academy Award for Best Original Song (“Talk to the Animals”), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), and the musical Scrooge (1970).
Sammy Davis, Jr. had hits with two of Bricusse’s songs, “What Kind of Fool Am I?” (from Stop the World – I Want to Get Off) and the No. 1 hit “The Candy Man” (from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory). Other recording artists who have had popular success with his songs include Nina Simone (“Feeling Good”), Matt Monro and Frank Sinatra (“My Kind of Girl”), Shirley Bassey (“Goldfinger”), Harry Secombe (“If I Ruled the World”), Nancy Sinatra (“You Only Live Twice”), The Turtles (“A Guide for the Married Man”), Maureen McGovern (“Can You Read My Mind”), and Diana Krall (“When I Look in Your Eyes”). Bricusse partnered with George Tipton to write the opening theme of the U.S. television series It’s a Living. Pure Imagination: The World of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, devised and directed by Bruce Kimmel, opened at the Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice, California, on December 7, 2013.
Bricusse has written more than forty musical shows and films. He is one of very few people in the world of stage and screen musicals who contribute all three creative elements — book, music and lyrics – to a show or film, a feat he has achieved some 25 times. He has also written words and music (but not the book) or book and Iyrics (but not the music) to a further dozen projects in his various collaborations. Nominated for ten Oscars, nine Grammys and four Tonys, he has won two Oscars, a Grammy, and eight Ivor Novello Awards, the premiere British Music Award. In 1989 he received the Kennedy Award for consistent excellence in British songwriting, bestowed by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, and was inducted into the American Songwriters’ Hall of Fame – only the fourth Englishman to be so honored — after Noel Coward, John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
The following works by Leslie Bricusse are contained in my collection:
Dr. Dolittle (1967): Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
Scrooge (1970): Music from the Motion Picture.