Born in London to Galician Jews, Bart changed his last name Begleiter to Bart after St. Bartholomew’s Hospital (Bart’s). His musical talent was recognized at a young age but he was undisciplined, and attempts to teach him the violin were unsuccessful. He never learned to read or write musical notation, but this didn’t stop him from becoming a highly significant personality in the development of British rock and pop music.
Cited by none other than Andrew Lloyd Webber as the father of the modern British musical, Lionel Bart was the composer, book writer and lyricist of Oliver!, freely adapted from the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist. Bart was central to the rekindling of musicals in the UK at a time when American production dominated the West End stage.
Oliver! followed the 1959 successes of Lock Up Your Daughters, for which Bart wrote the lyrics to Laurie Johnson’s music. Bart’s first musical, Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be, had a two year run in London. At his peak he was also among Britain’s top songwriters, penning hit for the likes of Shirley Bassey, Anthony Newley, Tommy Steele (“Rock with the Cavemen,” top 20 in 1957) and Cliff Richard (“Living Doll, #1 in 1959). In 1957 he won three Ivor Novello Awards, four more in 1958 and two in 1960. He also wrote the famous James Bond theme, “From Russia with Love” (1964).
Then came two ambitious, operatic and admired musicals, Blitz (1962), a spectacular, moving evocation of wartime London, and Maggie May (1964), a Jesus parable set among the dockworkers of contemporary Liverpool. Both featured Sean Kenny designs. But in 1965 Bart met with disaster when he attempted his take on Sherwood Forest and Robin Hood in Twang!! This and the Broadway one-nighter La Strada began a decline in his theatre career, which lasted for much of the 1970s and 80s
In 1989 he appeared in a building society television commercial singing “Happy Endings” to a group of children. The song caught on and was issued as a single. The 1990s saw renewed success for his musicals. Maggie May and Blitz! were revived in the West End and his profile rose through Sir Cameron Mackintosh’s 1994 production of Oliver! at the Palladium. At the time of his death in 1999 he was working on a revival of the 1969 musical La Strada.
|ANYTHING (SAMPLE OF "I'D DO ANYTHING")||LIONEL BART CARTER||HOLLIS MUSIC, INC.|
|AS LONG AS HE NEEDS ME||LIONEL BART||HOLLIS MUSIC, INC.|
|BE BACK SOON||LIONEL BART||HOLLIS MUSIC, INC.|
|BOY FOR SALE (FROM "OLIVER!")||LIONEL BART||HOLLIS MUSIC, INC.|
|CONSIDER YOURSELF||LIONEL BART||HOLLIS MUSIC, INC.|
|FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD||LIONEL BART||HOLLIS MUSIC, INC.|
|I SHALL SCREAM||LIONEL BART||HOLLIS MUSIC, INC.|
|I'D DO ANYTHING||LIONEL BART||HOLLIS MUSIC, INC.|
|INTRO INTO WIDOW CORNEY'S PARLOUR||LIONEL BART||HOLLIS MUSIC, INC.|
|LONDON BRIDGE||LIONEL BART||HOLLIS MUSIC, INC.|
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