“I've travelled from Timbuktu to Uzbekistan, but nowhere have I encountered a meal as tasty as Tim Rice ”
Sir Tim Rice, born in 1917 in Vietnam, is most notable for both being the good friend of popular composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber and being confused with Tim Brooke-Taylor from The Goodies (this is because both Lloyd-Webber and Brooke-Taylor are double barreled names). Other than that Tim Rice is completely unremarkable because anyone who has ever seen his opus Chess has immediately forgotten it by the following morning. Of course, this makes him a prime candidate for inclusion in this venerable reference source.
Tim Rice: The Early Years
Tim grew up in a semi-detached thatched cottage in the paddy fields of Vietnam with his two older brothers Boiled and Fried. By the time Tim's mother, Chau Co Joan Rice was pregnant for the third time, the joke was wearing a little thin and anyway the family had set their sights on the Big Apple (Tim is short for Times Square). Unfortunately the family was misled by an unscrupulous human trafficker, and the fishing boat they boarded was not headed for the US, but the UK. In 1925 the Rice family landed in Skegness.
Tim Rice in Britain
At this time Skegness was recognised as a centre of high British culture and refinement. As a teenager Tim found himself mixing with the leading lights of his day, in particular a group of bohemians and future Tory politicians known to frequent The Cottage Loaf, the most fashionable tea shop in the district. The Cottage Loafers would consume crumpets and toasted teacakes and discuss lofty ideas about music, art and Cartesian philosophy. Tim Rice was stimulated in this environment, although perhaps that was a result of the caffeine and sugar in his tea.
Tim Rice's Musical Career
Tim Rice discovers the Musical
His first encounter with a musical was in 1973 when he finally left the family home and moved to London. Here he saw the West End production of Grease at the New London Theatre. Sir Tim was so taken with the scene where Sandy is transformed into a rocker and sings You're the One That I Want that he straight away decided to end his career as a London stockbroker and become a beauty therapist. After failing to secure a position, he instead found work as a musical lyricist.
Tim and Andrew: A match made in heaven
He met Andrew Lloyd-Webber at the British Museum, when they were both looking at the stars in its observatory. Lloyd-Webber was already a well established musician, and offered to work with Tim on the West End show By Jeeves in 1975. Due to artistic differences about the right way to pronounce Jeeves the collaboration floundered and Lloyd-Webber completed the project without Rice. The pair did manage to stay on good terms long enough to complete Evita. The show was originally slated in London, but took off during the Falkland Islands war. Britain took Rice's clever lyrics for Don't Cry for Me, Argentina to heart, and the song became an anthem of national pride. Andrew Lloyd Webber could not cope with Rice's popularity and left the partnership to seek his own fortune. After Rice's one success, Lloyd-Webber's solo career took off whereas Rice disappeared into seeming obscurity.
Chess: A final attempt
After his break-up with Andrew Lloyd-Webber Tim Rice made one last attempt to hit the big time. His musical collaboration with ABBA stars Benny Hill and Bjorn Vulva was billed as a come-back. The musical was named Chess, and featured Elaine Page wearing a flimsy nightie in an inhuman, filthy chess den in central Bangkok. I saw it in 1987, but unfortunately cannot remember what it was about. Nor can anyone else.
Tim Rice: The later years
Towards the end of his career Tim was relegated to the rubbish heap of 20th Century musicians. Discontented with meaningless nonsense like writing scores and songs for Disney films, featuring in documentaries about Cliff Richard and Elton John and being called Sir he decided to join an ashram and changed his name to Basmati. He is also known as a champion of holistic water-based therapies, commonly known as the absorption method.
|Tim's Musical Career
1973 - 1975