In 1969, when Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice decided to write a rock opera about Jesus Christ, they had little idea they were about to embark on one of the most popular, boundary-pushing, and influential musicals ever. The show’s success was hardly assured at first: unable to secure enough funding, they initially resorted to just releasing its title song as a single. A full album followed to widespread acclaim, and only then could a full production get underway. More than fifty years later, Jesus Christ Superstar continues to be beloved in all its forms—the live show, various cast albums, and the wildly successful movie.
Few people had the chance to witness the musical’s evolution from as many angles as Ellis Nassour, whether collaborating with Rice and Lloyd Webber at MCA, writing for the New York Times, or assisting with the Broadway and LA productions. In this expansive, beautifully illustrated book, Nassour draws on a wealth of knowledge, first-hand experience, and new interviews to give the definitive story of the musical. Combining an engaging narrative with abundant photographs—many in color and never before published—he follows the show from its uncertain beginnings, through setbacks and controversies, to Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ultimate triumph, serving up an unparalleled look at one of the most important and best-selling musical works of all time.
Ellis Nassour is a veteran of the New York Times, New York Daily News, and MCA. His books include 1973’s Rock Opera—the first book about Jesus Christ Superstar—as well as Honky Tonk Angel: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline, which remains in print after four decades. Over his career he has written countless works of entertainment journalism and worked with figures such as Elton John, Neil Diamond, Loretta Lynn, and The Who. A native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, he resides in New York.
"Musical theater enthusiasts and Superstar devotees will appreciate this candid perspective, the interviews with the show’s legends, and the stunning collection of photos."
"If you must buy only one book about Jesus Christ Superstar, make it this one. Ellis Nassour, the last of a dying breed of theater writers, has given us an utterly invaluable tome from the perspective of someone who witnessed much of it up close. Dense with information about the planning and machinations of putting this extraordinary musical together and filled with exclusive interviews and never-before-seen photographs, this should be on every JCS fan's shelf. If you thought you, were an expert before, reading this will make you think twice!"