Sir Tim Rice alumni of Aldwickbury School, St Albans School and Lancing College, tells us about his school days and the influence they had on his extraordinary career.
Where to start with the legend that is Sir Tim Rice? He is part of our cultural and musical heritage and puts the Great into Britain. His awards are almost too long to list, from Academy, Tony, and Grammy Awards to Golden Globes. Knighted by the Queen in 1994, a star on the Hollywood walk of fame, an inductee into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, a Disney Legend, Fellow of the British Academy of songwriters, composers and authors – is there nothing this man can’t do?! He even plays cricket….
Were you writing lyrics and composing from an early age?
Never composed music until I was 19 and then only some simple pop song tunes. I was always keen to write funny (allegedly) verse and prose from quite an early age – maybe eight or so.
When were you first drawn to music and did school play a role in this?
I always liked singing at prep school (Aldwickbury) and loved many hymns and traditional songs we learned there from the age of five onwards. Pop and rock music hit me when I was 11 (Elvis, Tommy Steele, Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers) and from there, it was no looking back.
What were you like at school?
Academically good, pretty average at sport (but quite keen) with a pathetic desire to be popular.
Was there a teacher who particularly inspired you?
Not really. Quite a variety. Brian Chidell was a great maths teacher at prep school. Harry Guest and Roger Lockyer at Lancing were influential – modern languages and history respectively.
“Make your first musical funny rather than serious. Plenty of time for angst later.”
If you could change anything in schools about how music is taught, what would it be?
Every child should learn to read music at the same time that they learn to read words.
What advice would you give to aspiring young musicians or lyricists?
Keep at it despite setbacks. Don’t panic if you’re not talented in that department. Do something just as important backstage. Make your first musical funny rather than serious. Plenty of time for angst later. Make it short and get it on live anywhere – school productions fine; don’t rely on demo recordings.
Which musical are you most proud of and why?
Not sure. Joseph will last the longest (good news for my grandchildren).
Which musical do you wish you had written?
West Side Story or My Fair Lady (words only of course). Anything by W.S. Gilbert.
Which of your awards means the most to you?
None really. Maybe my recent Pointless trophy.
What was your first big career break?
Meeting Andrew (Lloyd Webber) in April 1965.
From the great collaborations in your life – is there one moment that really stands out?
See answer to last question!
Which piece of musical theatre are you most proud of and why?
I think as a theatrical presentation the original Evita on stage in the West End was hard to top. Nothing wrong with the production but of course not much of it was to do with me – just the words.
Outside of music what are your passions?
Cricket, history, travel…
Who is your cricketing hero?
As a schoolboy two guys called Bill Edrich and Denis Compton. I admire quite a few current players but no one rave fave.
What is your personal motto for life?
Make new friends but stick to old. One is silver, the other gold.
Is there any one individual who has inspired you the most?
Maybe my dad. Elvis? (Not the same chap).
Any more dreams still to realise?
I’ve got to the stage where earlier dreams like swimming the channel or going to the moon won’t happen. I’d like to write a play. Not sure I could.
The three tracks you’d take to a Desert Island?
I’d take something classical but three of my all-time favourite popular songs are Runaway by Del Shannon, All I Have To Do Is Dream by the Everly Brothers and The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel. But ask me again tomorrow and I’d name three different ones.
For more music related features, read our interview with Jo Charrington, Co-President of Capitol Records here;
Or our interview with Pixie Lott here