Tuesday 19 October 2021

Signed Books: PURE IMAGINATION by Leslie Bricusse



This post – in an occasional series devoted to signed books in my 'library' (as I grandly refer to a great many piles of assorted volumes!) – is prompted by the death, at the age of 90, of Leslie Bricusse, the brilliantly gifted British composer, lyricist, and playwright.

Leslie Bricusse's prolific career ranged across stage musicals from Stop the World – I Want to Get Off and The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd (both with Anthony Newley) to Pickwick and musical films from Doctor Dolittle via Scrooge to Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory as well as providing unforgettable music and songs for films, among them Goldfinger, Goodbye Mr Chips and, perhaps surprisingly, Superman!

Leslie's career is chronicled with charm and a sly wit in his 'Sorta-biography', Pure Imagination.


With Leslie's lavish signature (we collectors love an author with a distinctive hand over the careless scribbler!) on the theatrically-purple front free end-paper.

Over the years, I had the enormous pleasure of visiting with Leslie and his lovely, much-loved wife 'Evie' at their homes in London and Los Angeles in order to quiz his encyclopedic memory in preparation for several of my (now vintage) BBC Radio 2 series on aspects film and stage musicals and performers.

Always a welcoming, gracious host and one of the easiest and most accommodating interviewees who would always deliver the purest of  gold!

I have two particular mementos... 

Firstly in LA where, after giving him a copy of The Unsung Story, my book on A Christmas Carol (in view of his interest in Dickens and Ebenezer Scrooge!) he jumped and rushed from the room calling over his shoulder: "I've got something for you that you absolutely won't have in your Dickens collection!" He momentarily returned with a copy of the Japanese libretto for the Tokyo production of Scrooge to which he added a typical inscription...




Then in London in 1989, meeting up with Leslie after the premiere of his stage production of Doctor Dolittle along with Phillip Schofield (playing the Doctor) who was contributing to a programme I was making about Julie Andrews (the voice in the show of the Doc's parrot, Polynesia). Phillip inscribed the cover of my souvenir programme to which Leslie couldn't resist adding his own idiosyncratic addition... 


Many thanks for all the music, Leslie – and the memories!