Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Composer of 'Oliver!' Dies Aged 68




LONDON -- Lionel Bart, the lyricist and composer who created "Oliver!'' and other musicals, has died at age 68.


He died Saturday in Hammersmith Hospital in London, his longtime hometown. The cause was cancer, his family said.


Bart played a large role in reviving the English musical at a time when American productions dominated London's stages.


"Lionel was the father of the modern British musical." Andrew Lloyd-Webber said Saturday. As composer, book writer and lyricist of "Oliver!" Bart was responsible for one of the greatest musicals of all time. Several of the show's songs became popular standards, including "As Long as He Needs Me" and "Consider Yourself."


If this wasn't enough, he wrote arguably the all-time perfect pop song, "Living Doll," as well as the theme for the 1963 James Bond movie "From Russia With Love."


Bart's first musical, "Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be," premiered in 1959 and had a two-year commercial run in London. He also wrote lyrics for "Lock Up Your Daughters" that same year.


Then in 1960 came "Oliver!," based on Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist." The show ran for 2,618 performances and was one of the most successful musicals in London stage history, as well as proving a hit in New York.


Bart followed up with music and lyrics for "Blitz!" (1962) and "Maggie May" in 1964.


He later signed away his rights to "Oliver!" and other properties, in part to finance his biggest flop, "Twang!" It was a decision he came to regret.


Bart struggled with alcohol and drug problems throughout the 80s.


At his death he was working toward reviving "La Strada," his unsuccessful 1960s musical based on the Fellini film.