Childhood & Early Life
Andrew Lloyd Webber was born on 22 March 1948, to William Lloyd Webber and Jean Hermione Johnstone, in Kensington, London. His parents were deeply invested in music and were accomplished players themselves. His younger brother, Julian Lloyd Webber, is a reputed musician as well.
Lloyd’s surroundings were conducive for his talent to be nurtured and he started creating music at the age of nine, producing a suite of six musical pieces. He also managed to put on playful productions of these with his brother and Aunt.
He attended Westminster School as a Queen’s Scholar in 1965 and later enrolled at Magdalen College in Oxford to study history but dropped out in 1965 to study musical theatre at Royal College of Music.
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In 1965, he collaborated with Tim Rice to produce ‘The Likes of Us’, a musical on Thomas John Barnado. Despite the good score, the project failed to take off and was not publicly performed until 2005.
In 1967, the duo was commissioned by Alan Doggett to write a piece for the school choir. The result was ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’, inspired by various genres.
In 1970, the duo worked on ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, which was an immediate success. The musical was performed at the West End.
In 1972, their debut musical ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ was expanded into a full-length stage performance and was performed in the West End.
Rice and Webber planned to work on a musical based on the novels by P. G. Wodehouse, but Rice left the project. Webber continued with the musical and wrote ‘Jeeves’ with Alan Ayckbourn. However, it didn’t make any initial impression.
Rice and Webber got back together to produce ‘Evita’ in 1978. This was a musical based on Eva Peron, and it went on to become a success. The show ran for over 10 years at the West End and later at Broadway.
Webber started producing music by himself after ‘Evita’. He wrote ‘Variations’ and included his brother Julian. The theme from this was used in the series ‘South Bank Show’ for 32 years.
In 1981, he worked on ‘Cats’, a musical based on T. S. Eliot’s poems. This went on to become the longest running musical in London and ran for 21 years. It also created a record run on Broadway with 18 years.
In 1984, he wrote ‘Starlight Express’ which was a commercial success.
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In 1985, he wrote ‘Requiem Mass’ in honor of his late father. He won a Grammy award for it in 1986.
In 1986, he partnered with Tim Rice to produce ‘Cricket’. This musical created for Queen Elizabeth’s 60 birthday was performed at Windsor Castle.
His most acclaimed project till date is ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ (1986). The production was directed by Harold Prince and became the longest running musical at the West End and Broadway. It completed its 10,000th show on Broadway in 2012.
In 1989, he wrote ‘Aspects of Love’. The musical was based on David Garnett’s story. Though moderately successful, the show closed within 4 years.
In the 1990s, he wrote a song for the Olympics at Barcelona. Later, he worked on ‘Sunset Boulevard’ (1994) which premiered at Adelphi Theatre and ran for over 1,500 performances. Despite this, the expensive costs of production offset any gains they made.
By the early 2000s, Webber was regarded as the most successful composer. He worked with the Indian maestro A. R. Rahman and produce ‘Bombay Dreams’.
In 2004, his production ‘The Woman in White’ opened at Palace Theatre and later at Broadway. Despite good reviews, the show closed soon.
In 2006, he was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors along with Zubin Mehta, Steven Spielberg, and Dolly Parton. In the same year, he was also one of the judges in the reality show ‘How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria?
In 2007, he showcased pieces from his musicals in the ‘Concert for Diana’ show at London. Many pieces from his oeuvre were played.
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In 2008, he was the judge in the talent show ‘I’d Do Anything’. He also featured in ‘American Idol’ as a mentor to the finalists.
In 2009, he released the musical ‘Love Never Dies’. The show premiered at Her Majesty’s Theatre. His next project was the production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in 2011.
From 2012, he was involved in the primetime show ‘Superstar’, the revival of the musical ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, and the production of ‘Stephen Ward: The Musical’.
In 2014, he set to work on a musical adaptation of ‘School of Rock’, a movie on music. It was opened in 2015 with the help of School of Rock music education program.
Webber published his memoir titled ‘Unmasked’ in March 2018. The book goes back to his school days till his success at the stage.
Personal Life & Legacy
Andrew Lloyd Webber was married to Sarah Hugill from 1971 to 1983 until their divorce. The couple has two children: Imogen Llyod Webber and Nicholas Llyod Webber.
His second marriage was to Sarah Brightman, the singer, in 1984. They divorced in 1990.
He next married Madeleine Gurdon in February 1991. They have three children: Alastair Adam, William Richard, and Isabella Aurora. The family lives in Sydmonton Court in Hampshire.
He was diagnosed with early prostate cancer in 2009, but was operated soon. He was cancer free by 2010 and stated that he removed his prostate entirely.