Andrew Lloyd Webber has been the most successful composer of musicals of his generation and also a breaker of molds in the genre. The composers who inspired him were for the most part American, but he was born in London, the son of William Lloyd Webber, director of the London College of Music, and was trained at the Royal Academy of Music.
Though the school wasn't a musical-theater stronghold, Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice met and began work on a musical based on the biblical story of Joseph and his coat of many colors; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat showed strong rock influences. Soon the two hit on another unusual idea: a musical based on the life of Christ from Judas' point of view. Unable to finance a stage version, Lloyd Webber and Rice did manage to record their show, and Jesus Christ Superstar went on to sell millions of copies. The hit musical version followed belatedly.
Lloyd Webber and Rice parted ways temporarily, but Rice returned with another audacious idea: a musical retelling the life of Argentine icon Eva Perón. Evita (1976) repeated the Jesus Christ Superstar pattern, with its hit album followed by a successful theatrical run.
The Lloyd Webber/Rice partnership now was severed (Rice went on to write Chess), and Lloyd Webber next wrote a musical revue based on T.S. Eliot's whimsical poems about Cats (1981). This time the show came before the album, and its two-decade run became legendary. By this time, Lloyd Webber had largely abandoned rock elements in favor of a pastiche style that borrowed from classical and opera sources.
Lloyd Webber created several moderately successful shows (Song and Dance, Starlight Express) before scoring another long-running hit in 1987 with a musical adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera. Aspects of Love (1989-1990) was less successful, however. A musical adaptation of the Billy Wilder film Sunset Boulevard proved one of his rare disappointments. In 1996, Lloyd Webber and Rice contributed a new song, "You Must Love Me," to a film version of Evita starring Madonna; "You Must Love Me" was named Best Original Song at the 1997 Academy Awards, and in January of that year, Andrew Lloyd Webber became Lord Lloyd-Webber of Sydmonton.
Lloyd Webber continued to compose new musicals approximately every other year. Whistle Down the Wind opened in July 1998 in London, and The Beautiful Game, a political musical about Northern Ireland, opened in September 2000.