Academy Award and Grammy-winning songwriter Leslie Bricusse is no longer with us, gone at 90 years old.
Born in London, Bricusse was a composer, lyricist, and playwright who created stage musicals and wrote music for films. He did the music and lyrics for the musical films Doctor Dolittle (1967), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), Scrooge (1970), and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971), and the songs Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice (with John Barry) and Le Jazz Hot! (with Henry Mancini) and other tunes from Victor/Victoria (1982).
Bricusse won Oscars for Best Song for the infectious Talk To The Animals from Doctor Dolittle and for Best Original Score for Victor/Victoria.
For Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, Bricusse gave us The Candy Man and Pure Imagination with his frequent collaborator Anthony Newley.
For the West End and Broadway, he and Newley created Stop The World – I Want To Get Off (1961) with Newley. Their song What Kind of Fool Am I? from this innovative musical made them the first Brits to win the Song of the Year Grammy Award. The duo also wrote The Roar Of The Greasepaint – The Smell Of The Crowd (1965), which featured the song Feeling Good was later a big hit for Nina Simone. Sammy Davis Jr. had huge hits with What Kind of Fool Am I? and The Candy Man, both going to Number One on the Pop Music charts.
His songs have been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Shirley Bassey, Nancy Sinatra, The Turtles, Maureen McGovern, Diana Krall, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Tom Jones, Rex Harrison, Bette Midler, Lena Horne, Sergio Mendes, Dionne Warwick, Ray Charles, Ethel Merman, Placido Domingo, Jennifer Holliday, Robbie Williams, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Michael Bublé, The Moody Blues, Maroon 5, and The Black-Eyed Peas. Sammy Davis, Jr. recorded 60 of his songs.
When he collaborated with Newley, the two gentlemen referred to themselves as the team of “Brickman and Newburg”, with “Newburg” doing the music and “Brickman” coming up with the lyrics.
He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1989, the fourth Britisher ever to be so honored, after Noel Coward, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney. He received five Tony Award nominations, seven Grammy noms, and eight Academy Award nominations. Andrew Lloyd Webber called Bricusse “the most underestimated British songwriter of all time”.
Among my personal favorite songs:
Who Can I Turn To? (1964)
Two For The Road (with Mancini), the theme for the film Two For The Road (1967).
You And I from Goodbye Mr. Chips, sung by Petula Clark.
You Only Live Twice (with Barry) from the James Bond flick You Only Live Twice (1967)