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Fings Ain't Wot They Used T' Be: The Lionel Bart Story [Kindle Edition]

David Stafford , Caroline Stafford
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $14.95

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Book Description

Lionel Bart was a writer and composer of British pop music and musicals, best known for creating the book, music and lyrics for Oliver!

He also wrote the famous songs Living Doll (Cliff Richard) and From Russia With Love (Matt Munroe).

He was unable to read music.

He was a millionaire aged thirty in the Sixties, bankrupt in the Seventies and died in 1999.

The authors gained exclusive access to Bart’s personal archives – his unfinished autobiography, his letters and scrapbooks.

They detail how he signed away the rights to Oliver! to finance his new musical Twang – based on Robin Hood - which flopped badly in the theatre.

Reveal how his heavy drinking led to diabetes and how he died in 1999 aged 69 from liver cancer.

They have interviewed his personal secretaries, friends, family, counsellors and many of the performers, musicians and producers who worked with him.

Interviewees include Rocky Horror’s Richard O’Brien and actors Dudley Sutton and Nigel Planer.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2059 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Omnibus Press (December 12, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006L9KT5U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,307,393 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Consider yourself at home November 28, 2011
Consider yourself at home with this wonderful book, the second biography of the great Lionel Bart, composer of the tunes from OLIVER!, a James Bond theme song, and many successful pop hits. This is also the better publication of the two, as the authors (the husband and wife team of David and Caroline Stafford) have had access to Bart's private papers, and the freedom to interview the composers's friends and document their candid observations now that Lionel is gone.
The writing style is refreshingly blunt (plenty of light profanities) which suits the milieu of the radical '60s. And although Lionel's tale is one of ascent, descent and retribution, the author's tackle it all with great wit and affection. As Lionel was an intensely private man who only publicly acknowledged his sexuality at a later age, the authors attempt some healthy guess work to reveal a more developed character. This is still an overview however, and perhaps we will never get an in-depth study of the man behind the chirpy, Jewish Londoner. He seemed resistant to any public introspection, and was wary of any probing biographies all of his life.
Still, if you want a fun read and a glimpse into the lively British show business of the period, then this is a real joy. It is also a surprisingly funny book, with many a humorous turn-of-phrase that had me chuckling. Also included is a cursory (not extensive) listing of the Bart songs and works. Theater fans will no doubt love the chronicling of his legendary musicals, from the dizzy heights of OLIVER! to the horrific disasters of TWANG!!

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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars March 22, 2015
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A wonderful read about the pre-eminent British theatre composer of the sixties.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars COMPELLING, NECESSARY, AN ERA CAPTURED April 12, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Lionel Bart was great. The Staffords have captured the times he wrote in, and given us a picture of what drove the man not only behind OLIVER! but the world & circles he moved in - both personal & professional; the insanity & self-destruction of his drug & booze behavior that also brought about his (partial) creative downfall with the dread Robin Hood musical TWANG!, but also the ensorcelling conditions that produced "Fings Ain't What they Used to BE' for Joan Littlewood, and his marvelous over-the-top BLITZ, and the even daring & most accomplished MAGGIE MAE. One wishes the book was actually longer so it could deal with some of these lesser-known shows but it places the reader in all areas of the London theatre when Bart made it magic, even with his own demons working overtime. A must read!
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