Leslie Bricusse, the man behind songs like Candyman and Pure Imagination from the hit film Willy Wonka, has died at the age of 90.
The news was confirmed by her friend Dame Joan Collins, who said he was “one of the giant songwriters of our time”.
Bricusse has had a prolific career with songwriting credits including Dr. Dolittle’s Talk to the Animals.
He also wrote the lyrics for the Bond Goldfinger song – alongside Anthony Newley – and You Only Live Twice.
Other collaborations with Newley include Feeling Good, made famous by Nina Simone.
Dame Joan said: “One of the giants songwriters of our time, writer of Candyman, Goldfinger among many other hits, and my great friend Leslie Bricusse sadly passed away today.
“He and his beautiful Evie have been in my life for over 50 years. I will miss him terribly, as have his many friends.”
Born in Pinner, North West London, Bricusse and Newley enjoyed a fruitful collaboration, writing the 1961 musical Stop the World I Want to Get Off and 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, based on the popular children’s book by Roald Dahl.
He has also written many other musicals including Scrooge, Hook (with John Williams) and Goodbye Mr Chips.
Bricusse has won two Oscars for his work. Talk to the Animals won Best Original Song in 1968, while Victor / Victoria – who wrote with Henry Mancini – won Best Original Score or Song Adaptation in 1983.
He won a Grammy in 1963, which he shared with Newley, for the song What Kind of Fool Am I? from Stop the world I want to get off.
Asked in 2015 how he felt about winning his Academy Awards, he said, “The Oscars are great. If the whole world were run by the Oscars committee, it would be a much better place.
“I have nothing but admiration for them. I’m playing even money – I have 10 nominations and two wins. So if you plan to win one in five, I’m even,” he said.
Also in 2015, he staged Pure Imagination – The Songs of Leslie Bricusse, a music magazine reflecting on a catalog of over 1,000 songs.
The composer and lyricist was said to be adamant that his scores for musical theater should be sung traditionally, rather than revived to suit the whims of a particular producer.
Bricusse described himself in his book Pure Imagination: A Sorta-biography as “one of the luckiest people I know, second perhaps only to Ringo Starr”.
“It’s not really an autobiography. It’s about accidents rather than my whole life, and about other people as much as I am. I just put down the things I remembered!”
Bricusse stated at the beginning of one of his first chapters that he will drop names “like fragrant rose petals”.
The book was interspersed with anecdotes and quotes from some of his famous friends, including Dame Julie Andrews, Sir Elton John and Sir Michael Caine.
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