Soundtracks – Jesus Christ Superstar

You have nothing in your hands, Any power you have, comes to you from far beyond, Everything is fixed, and you can’t change it.

Back in the early 70s, I would go to a friend’s house to fly model rockets. He played his “Jesus Christ Superstar” album for me. I bought a copy just as soon as I was able. I remember listening to it and following along in the enclosed lyric booklet. This was my first experience of a rock opera (I didn’t hear The Who’s “Tommy” until later).

This Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber rock-opera spectacular features Murray Head (“One Night in Bangkok”) as Judas, Yvonne Elliman (singer, songwriter, and actress) as Mary, and Ian Gillian (Deep Purple lead singer) as Jesus. Unable to get the backing for a stage production they produced this studio-only recording, released on October 27, 1970, and reached number 1 on the Billboard 200.

Tim Rice wrote the lyrics and Andrew Lloyd Weber the music of this 2-LP spectacular. The story is based in large part on the Synoptic Gospels and Fulton J. Sheen’s Life of Christ. Greater emphasis is based on the stories of Jesus, Judas, and Mary Magdalene which were not in the Bible. Much of the plot centered on Judas, who is dissatisfied with the direction in which Jesus is steering his disciples.

Original Recording Cast
  • Ian Gillan – Jesus Christ
  • Murray Head – Judas Iscariot
  • Yvonne Elliman – Mary Magdalene
  • Victor Brox – Caiaphas, High Priest
  • Barry Dennen – Pontius Pilate
  • Brian Keith – Annas
  • John Gustafson – Simon Zealotes
  • Paul Davis – Peter
  • Mike d’Abo – King Herod
Mike d'Abo was the lead singer for Manfred Mann
Primary Musicians
  • Henry McCullough – Electric & Acoustic Guitar
  • Neil Hubbard – Electric Guitar
  • Alan Spenner – Bass Guitar
  • Peter Robinson[1] – Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Positive Organ
  • Chris Mercer – Tenor Sax
  • Bruce Rowland – Drums, Percussion
McCullough, Hubbard, Spenner, and Rowland were from Joe Cocker's group "The Grease Band".  Mike Vickers (Manfred Mann) also added some Moog synthesizer.
Side one
  1. Overture
  2. Heaven On Their Minds
  3. What’s The Buzz
    Strange Thing, Mystifying
  4. Everything’s Alright
  5. This Jesus Must Die
Side two
  1. Hosanna
  2. Simon Zealotes
    Poor Jerusalem
  3. Pilate’s Dream
  4. The Temple
  5. Everything’s Alright
  6. I Don’t Know How To Love Him
  7. Damned For All Time
    Blood Money
Side three
  1. The Last Supper
  2. Gethsemane
    (I Only Want To Say)
  3. The Arrest
  4. Peter’s Denial
  5. Pilate And Christ
  6. King Herod’s Song
    (Try It And See)
Side four
  1. Judas’ Death
  2. Trial Before Pilate
    (Including The Thirty-Nine Lashes)
  3. Superstar
  4. The Crucifixion
  5. John 19:41
Live Arena Tour – Top
Pilate – Barry Dennan
Alice Cooper – Herod

The success of the studio recording led to the show’s Broadway on-stage debut in 1971. This was followed quickly by the movie in 1973. The soundtrack for the film was released in the U.S. on vinyl by MCA Records (MCA 2–11000) in 1973, as Jesus Christ Superstar / The Original Motion Picture Sound Track Album.

Soundtrack Vocals
  • Kurt Yaghjian – Annas
  • Bob Bingham – Caiaphas
  • Ted Neeley – Jesus Christ
  • Carl Anderson – Judas Iscariot
  • Joshua Mostel – King Herod
  • Yvonne Elliman – Mary Magdalene
  • Barry Dennen – Pontius Pilate
  • Larry T. Marshall – Simon Zealotes

I saw the movie in Roswell, Georgia at the Roswell Village Theater. Yvonne Elliman and Barry Dennen reprised their roles from the studio recording.

I’ve seen the 1973 movie, three versions of the Broadway play at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, the 2013 Live Arena Tour and 2018 Live in Concert which stars John Legend as Jesus, Sara Bareilles as Mary, and Alice Cooper as King Herod (did an excellent job). If you want to check one out, I highly recommend the Live Arena Tour DVD. After all that, I still rate the original cast as by far the best vocalists in the roles! Whenever I listen to Deep Purple and Ian Gillian sings I stop and say …Jesus!

  1. John Peter Robinson is an English composer, musician, and arranger known for his film and television scores. A session keyboardist working with such as Brand X, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Shawn Phillips, Quatermass, Sun Treader/Morris Pert, Carly Simon, Bryan Ferry, Stealers Wheel, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and The Hollies. He has scored a number of successful films including The Believers (1987), The Kiss (1988), Cocktail (1988), Blind Fury (1989), Wayne’s World (1992), Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994), Highlander III: The Sorcerer (1994), Vampire in Brooklyn (1995, Firestorm (1998), The World’s Fastest Indian (2005) and The Bank Job (2008). He also composed for numerous television films and series including The Wonder Years, Eerie Indiana, Tales from the Crypt, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, The Outer Limits, and Charmed. [Back]


Jesus Christ Superstar

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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