Nicholas Lloyd Webber, who has died aged 43, was a composer, record producer and the son of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Among his works were a theatrical adaptation of The Little Prince, the 2017 stage show Fat Friends The Musical written by the late Kay Mellor, and the score to Gillies MacKinnon’s heart-warming film The Last Bus (2021) starring Timothy Spall and Phyllis Logan.
Anxious to avoid comparisons with his illustrious father, Lloyd Webber often went uncredited in his professional life, such as with his tunes for the BBC’s CBeebies and the ABC medical drama Grey’s Anatomy. On other occasions he was billed as Nickel, “as in nickel and dime, as it were”, he said, or simply as Nick Webber.
“For a long time, I dropped the Lloyd bit, to see what the reaction would be,” he told the Daily Telegraph in 2011. “I got some stuff on the radio, so I thought, ‘OK, I’m obviously not a complete idiot’. Then I thought, ‘hang on, if other people are prepared to work with me without the surname, then maybe I should just get on with it’.”
He eventually came out of the wings in 2010 after acquiring the rights to create a musical adaptation of the children’s story The Little Prince, based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novella about a little boy who lives on an asteroid and introduces himself to a crashed pilot.
The show, which starred Niamh Perry, a runner-up on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s television talent show I’d Do Anything, opened at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast. Fortunately, the composer received a warmer welcome than his father did in 1974 when a staging of Jesus Christ Superstar drew protests by religious groups.
The reviews, however, were mixed, with the Daily Telegraph describing “a hopelessly disjointed narrative and dirge-like direction”. The Belfast Telegraph was more upbeat, reporting: “Song after song, and each one a winner.”
Nicholas Alistair Lloyd Webber was born on July 2, 1979, the son of the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and his first wife Sarah (née Hugill). His grandfather, William, was a distinguished church musician and composer and his uncle, Julian, was a cellist until he retired in 2014.
Unsurprisingly, music was ever present in his childhood. “There are pictures floating around of me sitting on my dad’s knee at the age of zero, bashing away at the keys,” Lloyd Webber said.
He was educated at the Dragon School and St Edward’s School (Teddie’s), Oxford, and recalled playing Chopsticks at age 13 “badly, as everyone does”. When he managed to hit a wrong note, the resulting chord interested him. “I thought, ‘hello, what’s that?’ Ten minutes later I’d written my first song,” he told the Oxford Mail.
After leaving school at 18 he played in a band called Morgans Baby, a successor to The Morgans, and in 1998 teamed up with Eva Rice, daughter of his father’s songwriting partner Tim Rice, to create a collection of songs.
Later he had his own band, Archangel, before writing scores for a series of short films including Mon Amour, Mon Parapluie (2001) with the director Giada Dobrzenska.
Lloyd Webber later produced a couple of albums for his father, including Symphonic Suites for Decca and the Cinderella album, for which he shared a Grammy award nomination.
Andrew Lloyd Webber announced in recent weeks that he would be missing the Broadway opening of his latest musical, now known as Bad Cinderella, because of his son’s gastric cancer.
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In 2007 Lloyd Webber married Charlotte Windmill, a theatre director for whose 2008 staging of Twelfth Night with Oxford Shakespeare Company he wrote and performed the incidental music. That was dissolved, and in 2018 he married Polly Wiltshire, a viola player who survives him with their son and a daughter from his first marriage.