The record of Jesus Christ Superstar by Tim Rice (lyrics) and Andrew Lloyd Webber (songs) was one of the first LP’s that made me listen to rock music. JCS was called a “rock opera”, and that was exactly what it was. The genre “rock opera” died soon after that. A rock opera is not a musical. It’s rock music. Not polished, raw, intense.
|Original LP cover|
I played it non stop, until I knew every note by heart. I could sing the lines of all the performers. I translated it myself in Dutch when I was 16. I played it so many times my sister said at a performance years later, that she remembered all the music because she heard it so often in my room.
My nephew took me to the movie in 1975 and I know the first thing I did when I came back home was to put the record on the player and play it again and again.
|Movie LP cover|
When I was in London at the Palace Theatre (3,358 performances from 1972 to 1980) in 1978 and saw it there two times. I know how impressed I was there was a complete orchestra with a conductor playing there night after night after night. I was so impressed.
Over the years I saw several musical version of the rock opera. It always remained my childhood
love, some of the songs chiselled in my brain. Yesterday I went to see a version in The Hague with mr. Ted Neeley, the singer/actor who played Jesus in the movie. Imagine, mr. Neeley the one that did not know me, but I knew so well was performing for me yesterday. Neeley is now 72 years old. Imagine. And it was heart warming to see him. Older, fragility replace strength. There is one famous scene in the garden of Getsemane where the disciples fall asleep and Jesus asks for strength to do what is set out for him to do.
This is how it looks in film of Norman Jewison (1973):
And this is not from yesterday, I found it on Youtube of some years ago but it’s exactly how it sounded last night:
He got a standing ovation for that. That lasted for a long time. And he deserved it, every minute. When the show was over and the red carpet was laid out for the old master he came back on stage and I stood there applauding and shouting, not knowing what else to do, and real honest to God tears were running over my cheeks. What a great moment in time, I was in the same room, the same place as the one I had admired so long.
I will remember it forever.