Obituary: Composer Leslie Bricusse Dies Aged 90


Leslie Bricusse, the composer and lyricist best known for his musical theatre collaborations with Anthony Newley, has died aged 90. 

Born in Southfields in 1931, Bricusse originally found success as part of the Cambridge Footlights, before beginning his incredibly successful run of musicals with Newley in 1961 with Stop the World I Want to Get Off. Through this and later show The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd (1964), the pair generated the songs ‘What Kind of Fool Am I?’, ‘Feeling Good’, and ‘Who Can I Turn To’. 

Bricusse also had extended success in movie musicals, writing the lyrics and score for Doctor Dolittle, which won him an Oscar in 1967, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Scrooge. He also wrote lyrics for two separate Bond films, and the spoken word lyrics that accompany Superman and Lois Lane’s flight in Superman (1978). 

Despite lesser success in the intervening years, many of Bricusse’s musicals were successfully adapted for stage, and his autobiography Pure Imagination was published in 2005. However, few of his latter projects achieved the same level of success as with Newley, who died in 1999, excepting a well-received revival of Doctor Dolittle on stage which ran for a year in 1998 and toured the UK intermittently up until 2018.

Dame Joan Collins shared a tribute to Bricusse on Instagram.

“One of the giant songwriters of our time, writer of #candyman #goldfinger amongst so many other hits, and my great friend Leslie Bricusse has sadly died today,” the post said.

“He and his beautiful Evie have been in my life for over 50 years.”

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, actor Yvonne Warren, as well as his son Adam, grandchildren, and many friends.

Words by Issy Flower

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