Leslie Bricusse, a British Emmy- and Grammy-winning songwriter who wrote world-renowned songs for film and Broadway, has died. He was 90. Bricusse was perhaps best known for writing the lyrics to the James Bond themes “Goldfinger” and “You Only Live Twice,” plus “Pure Imagination,” which memorably appeared in Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (1971).
Joan Collins confirmed the songwriter’s death on Instagram this morning, calling him “one of the giant songwriters of our time.”
Bricusse was nominated and awarded multiple trophies over the years for his contributions to film, earning the Best Song Oscar for “Talk To The Animals” (1967’s Doctor Dolittle) and the Best Original Score Oscar for Victor/Victoria (1982), which he wrote with Henry Mancini.
In 1963, he won a Grammy for “What Kind Of Fool Am I,” which he wrote with Anthony Newley for the West End musical Stop The World – I Want To Get Off. Bricusse also co-wrote the Willy Wonka score with Newley, and it earned an Oscar nomination in 1971. (Fun fact: in addition to “Pure Imagination,” which was memorably covered by Fiona Apple in 2013), Bricusse also wrote “The Candy Man.”
Newley and Bricusse also wrote “Feeling Good” (sometimes also called “Feelin’ Good”) for the 1964 musical The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd. “Feelin’ Good” was later covered by a number of famous musicians, including Nina Simone, Sammy Davis Jr., John Coltrane, Ms Lauryn Hill, and more.
In his later years, the 10-time Oscar-nominated songwriter would work on music for West End features such as Pickwick, Sherlock Holmes: The Musical, Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical, Cyrano, and Sammy, about the life of Sammy Davis Jr.