Tim Rice is a lyricist who, over the past 50 years, has created some of the most well known shows in his collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber and more latterly in his work with Alan Menken and Elton John respectively for Disney.
Timothy Miles Bindon Rice was born on 10th November 1944 in Shardeloes, an English country house in Buckinghamshire, near Amersham. The site was requisitioned as a maternity hospital during World War II, and with his parents, Hugh Gordon Rice, being in the a major in the British Army, and Joan Odette, in the WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Air Force) this was not an unusual circumstance during this period. Tim studied at three different independent schools before working as an articled clerk for a law firm in London rather than studying at University.
It was the head of Arlington Books, Desmond Elliot, who knew Andrew Lloyd Webber and the fact that he was seeking a new lyricist. In 1965 Tim wrote to Andrew and shortly after they met and started working together. Tim soon moved to EMI Records where he was assistant to producer Norrie Paramour. When Paramour left EMI and set up his own organisation Tim followed to serve as his personal assistant. The first project he and Andrew collaborated on was based on the life story of Dr. Barnardo, at the suggestion of Elliot, and over the subsequent months they began working on the piece (this saw Andrew first take a sabbatical from his studies at Oxford University, then decide not to return there and concentrate on music full-time). The show was called The Likes of Us and did not provide them with a performance of any kind. It was later staged in 2005, in its 40th Anniversary year.
The first show to achieve success for the newly established partnership was Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat which they created for 1st March 1968. Colet Court School was looking for an 'end of term' piece and choirmaster Alan Doggett was a friend of Andrew Lloyd Webber's. Although it was only originally designed for the school the show has had songs added and been staged to huge success all over the world for the last 45 years. Andrew happened to approach Sefton Myers over creating a 'Pop' museum. Although Myers was uninterested in the museum he was, however, interested in the copy of Joseph that accompanied the proposal. This led to Andrew and Tim signing a three year songwriting deal. Rice gave up his work for Norrie Paramour to concentrate solely on the songwriting with Lloyd Webber. After initial ideas, for one based on King Richard and the Crusades (Tim would later come back to this idea) and one for the story of King Saul, were rejected the pair set about creating a new show based on the final days of Jesus Christ. As the concept was quite controversial it was decided that the project would be for a concept album. Jesus Christ Superstar was released in 1970. The success of the single Superstar launched Tim and Andrew into a very different world from the early success of Joseph and saw the young men touring the world performing interviews and promoting the album. The stage show was practically guaranteed from this point although it did take another two years to reach the stage production. The follow up to Jesus Christ Superstar saw the two part ways as Rice wished to work on an idea based on the life story of Eva Peron whilst Lloyd Webber wished to work on an adaptation of the works of P.G.Wodehouse. Alan Ayckbourn went on to create the lyrics for By Jeeves which didn't receive the same approval from the audience as the earlier Rice & Lloyd Webber successes. Andrew therefore came on board with what became Evita. In 1978, when the show was released in the UK, the main ballad of the show Don't Cry For Me Argentina soared to the Number 1 position, firmly establishing Rice & Lloyd Webber as one of the most successful songwriting partnerships of the 1970s. When the film was created in 1996 both Tim & Andrew received an Oscar for the new song they had created for the movie You Must Love Me.
Despite their great success of the 1970s Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber has not collaborated a great deal since. In 1983 Rice created Blondel with composer Stephen Oliver. This was a comedic jaunt through the life and times of King Richard and the Crusades (one of those ideas from his earlier years). In 1981 Tim had also met with Abba songwriters Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus to discuss ideas for a new musical. In 1984 the collaboration resulted in Chess, first released as a concept album in 1984, which told a fictional tale based on the Cold War hysteria surrounding the Chess world in the 1970s. In the UK in 1985 I Know Him So Well reached number 1 for Barbara Dickson and Elaine Paige. Also in the same year One Night in Bangkok topped the charts in 11 countries. Both songs were taken from the musical. Subsequent productions went on around the world including in the UK in 1986 and Broadway in 1988.
Tim was signed to Disney in 1991 to begin work on a film that would become The Lion King but when Alan Menken's collaborator, friend and lyricist, Howard Ashman, passed away Tim was asked to step in complete the songs for Aladdin. In 1992 Tim Rice and Alan Menken won best Oscar for Best Original Song for A Whole New World. The Lion King was released in 1994 and this time Tim had collaborated with Pop Superstar and Songwriter Elton John. Can You Feel The Love Tonight from the film won he and John another Oscar, again for Best Original Song in 1995. With the Oscar in 1996 for the song You Must Love Me from Evita Tim had collected three Oscars in only 5 years for Best Original Song.
In 1997 Menken and Rice created the piece King David, based on the life of the biblical character, to re-open Disney's refurbished New Amsterdam Theatre. With Elton John Tim had written Aida in 1996 which went on to be staged in 1998. The song Written In The Stars, featuring the voices of Elton and Leanne Rimes, reached Number 2 in the US charts for 4 weeks.
Tim continues to write but less on a musical front nowadays. He created the Guinness Book of Hit Singles with several collaborators over two decades and has created solo songs for the likes of Freddie Mercury, Placido Domingo, David Essex and even Elvis Presley. In 2013 he produced and lyricised the musical From Here To Eternity which ran for 7 months in the West End.
Selected list of Musicals and Movies for which Tim Rice has written lyrics;
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