Leslie Bricusse, Willy Wonka and Goldfinger songwriter die at 90


One of the greatest songwriters in film and theater is no longer with us. Leslie Bricusse died Tuesday at the age of 90, leaving behind a catalog of movie hits from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The golden finger, Doctor Dolittle, and much more. His death was announced by his son via Instagram accompanied by a tribute.

The London-born Bricusse was a movie songwriting giant, often working alongside his creative partner Anthony newley to create themes for some of the biggest productions from the 1960s to the 1980s. Together they wrote the theme for the James Bond film The golden finger for Shirley Bassey, collaborated with Sammy Davis Jr. for the Willy wonka hit “The Candy Man” and created the movie’s “Pure Imagination”. Bricusse will win two Oscars during his illustrious career, one for the 1967 Doctor Doolittle track “Talk to the Animals” and one for his work with Henri mancini on the score of Victor / Victoria in 1982.

Some of Bricusse’s other notable works include collaboration with John Bay for the theme at You only live twice, creating the 1963 winner of the song of the year “What Kind of Fool Am I” by Stop the world, I want to get off with Newley, and co-wrote “Feeling Good” by The Roar of Grease Paint – The Smell of the Crowd. Over the course of his career, his songs have been covered by artists across the spectrum, from Nina Simone To Franc Sintra, and American rock band The Turtles. Bricusse’s life of achievement earned him an inductee into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1989.


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Joan collins, one of Bricusse’s closest friends and Newley’s wife, homage paid to the legendary songwriter on social media, calling him “one of the giant songwriters of our time.” She added: “He and his beautiful Evie have been a part of my life for over 50 years. I will miss him terribly, as will his many friends.”

Bricusse’s work was about as present in the history of cinema as that of any songwriter. Even to this day, songs like “The Candy Man” and “Pure Imagination” can still be heard in commercials and are referenced in modern media for their timelessness. Her work is massive and memorable enough that almost everyone knows at least a few songs from her career, and each truly embodied the project she was associated with, whether it was for a musical or a massive blockbuster.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Bricusse.

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