2021-10-19 18:01:55 UTC
Willy Wonka songwriter Leslie Bricusse dies aged 90
Leslie Bricusse, the man behind songs such as Candyman and Pure Imagination from the hit film Willy Wonka, has died at the age of 90.
The news was confirmed by his friend Dame Joan Collins, who said he was "one of the giant songwriters of our time".
Bricusse had a prolific career with songwriting credits including Talk to the Animals from Doctor Dolittle.
He also penned the lyrics to Bond song Goldfinger - together with Anthony Newley - and You Only Live Twice.
Other collaborations with Newley included Feeling Good, made famous by Nina Simone.
Dame Joan said: "One of the giant songwriters of our time, writer of Candyman, Goldfinger amongst so many other hits, and my great friend Leslie Bricusse has sadly died today.
"He and his beautiful Evie have been in my life for over 50 years. I will miss him terribly, as will his many friends."
Born in Pinner, north west London, Bricusse and Newley enjoyed a fruitful partnership, writing 1961 musical Stop the World I Want to Get Off and the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, based on Roald Dahl's popular children's book.
He also wrote many other musicals including Scrooge, Hook (with John Williams) and Goodbye Mr Chips.
Bricusse won two Oscars for his work. Talk to the Animals won best original song in 1968, while Victor/Victoria - which he wrote with Henry Mancini - won best original song score or 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 brilliant. If the whole world was run by the Oscar committee it would be a much better place.
"I have nothing but admiration for them. I'm playing par - I'm 10 nominations and two wins. So if you reckon you win one in five, I'm on par," he said.
Also in 2015, he staged Pure Imagination - The Songs of Leslie Bricusse, a musical revue reflecting on a back catalogue of more than 1,000 songs.
The composer and lyricist was said to be adamant that his musical theatre scores should be sung traditionally, rather than jazzed up to suit a particular producer's whims.
Bricusse described himself in his book Pure Imagination: A Sorta-biography as "one of the luckiest people I know, second only perhaps to Ringo Starr".
"It's not really an autobiography. It's about incidents rather than my entire life, and it's about other people as much as me. I just put down the things I remembered!"
Bricusse stated at the outset of one of his early chapters that he will be dropping 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.