Leslie Bricusse, songwriter behind Goldfinger and Willy Wonka, dies at 90

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Oscar-winning and Grammy-winning songwriter Leslie Bricusse has died aged 90.

Born in London, Bricusse was known for writing the lyrics to the adventure theme James Bond Goldfinger as well as songs for films such as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Doctor Dolittle.

His son Adam Bricusse announced the news of his death on social media, claiming that he “passed away peacefully”. Her close friend Joan Collins also posted on Instagram, paying tribute to “one of the giant songwriters of our time.”

Bricusse won the Oscar for Best Song for Writing for 1967 Talk to the Animals, Doctor Dolittle, as well as an Oscar for Best Adaptation and Best Original Music (later renamed Best Original Music) for Victor / Victoria in 1982.

Some of his best-known work comes from Willy Wonka and the 1971 Chocolate Factory, Bricusse writing both Candy Man and Pure Imagination alongside Anthony Newley.

“On the next stage they were shooting Cabaret,” Bricusse said of the production in a June interview this year. “And I thought how wonderful that was. And I was a little nervous about the amateur style of our show versus the professionalism of Bob Fosse.

Bricusse also collaborated with John Barry on the themes of Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice. His stage work included Sherlock Holmes: The Musical of 1989 and Stop the World – I Want to Get Off with Newley of 1961. Their song What Kind of Fool Am I ?, taken from this latest musical, made them the first Britons to win the Grammy for Song of the Year in 1963.

The couple also wrote the song Feeling Good for the musical The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, which was later made famous by Nina Simone. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1989.

Tributes were also paid by stars including Elaine Paige on Twitter. “Shocked and saddened by the news of the death of the brilliant and wonderful Leslie Bricusse”, she wrote. “One of our great songwriters. My very first professional role was in the musical Roar of the Greasepaint. We have been friends for many years.

Speaking about Pure Imagination earlier this year, Bricusse said: “It’s a good idea for people, especially young people, to carry with them all life. You will be free if you really want to be at the end, it is, for me, the most important line of the film. It is a reflection on how to make a life work.

He is survived by his son Adam and his wife, the actor Yvonne Romain.



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