Jesus Christ Superstar (album)

Jesus Christ Superstar

Original UK cover
Studio album by Various artists
Released September 1970
Recorded 10 October 1969 ("Superstar" single)
1970 in Olympic Studios, London
Genre Progressive rock, hard rock
Length 86:56
Label Decca/MCA/Decca Broadway
Producer Tim Rice, Andrew Lloyd Webber
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice chronology
Jesus Christ Superstar
Singles from Jesus Christ Superstar
  1. "Superstar"
    Released: 21 November 1969
  2. "I Don't Know How to Love Him"
    Released: 13 May 1971
Alternative cover
US Edition Cover, May 1971
Professional ratings
Review scores

Jesus Christ Superstar is a 1970 rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The album musical is a musical dramatisation of the last week of the life of Jesus Christ, beginning with his entry into Jerusalem and ending with the Crucifixion. It was originally banned by the BBC on grounds of being "sacrilegious."[2][3]


The album's story is based in large part on the Synoptic Gospels and Fulton J. Sheen's Life of Christ, which compares and calibrates all four Gospels. However, greater emphasis is placed on the interpersonal relationships of the major characters, in particular, Jesus, Judas and Mary Magdalene, relationships that are not described in depth in the Gospels.

"Herod's Song (Try It and See)" is a lyrical rewrite of "Try It and See," previously written by Lloyd Webber and Rice as a proposed UK entry into the 1969 Eurovision Song Contest to be sung by Lulu, then recorded and released as a single by Rita Pavone. The writers had also included it (as "Those Saladin Days") in an aborted show called Come Back Richard Your Country Needs You.

The melody of "I Don't Know How to Love Him" also predates Superstar; it was rewritten from a 1968 Lloyd Webber/Rice collaboration titled "Kansas Morning."


For the recording, Lloyd Webber and Rice drew personnel from both musical theatre (Murray Head had just left the West End production of Hair) and the British rock scene (Ian Gillan had only recently become the singer of Deep Purple). Many of the primary musicians — guitarists Neil Hubbard and Henry McCullough, bassist Alan Spenner, and drummer Bruce Rowland — came from Joe Cocker's backing group The Grease Band. Saxophonist Chris Mercer had also played with Hubbard in Juicy Lucy.


The first piece of Superstar released was the title song, as a single in November 1969 backed with the instrumental "John Nineteen Forty-One." The full album followed almost a year later.

The album topped the U.S. Billboard Pop Albums in both February and May 1971[4] and ranked number one in the year-end chart ahead of Carole King's massive hit Tapestry. It also served as a launching pad for numerous stage productions on Broadway and in the West End. The original 1970 boxed-set issue of this 2-record set was packaged in the U.S. with a special thin brown cardboard outer box which contained the 2 vinyl records and a 28-page libretto. The album was listed as the top-selling LP on the U.S. Billboard Pop chart of 1971.[5] It is also the sixth most successful album of all time in Norway, peaking at No. 3 and staying on the charts for 87 weeks.[6]

Track listing

All compositions written by Tim Rice (lyrics and book) and Andrew Lloyd Webber (music).

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Overture"   2:07
2. "Heaven on Their Minds"   4:23
3. "What's the Buzz/Strange Thing Mystifying"   4:13
4. "Everything's Alright"   4:36
5. "This Jesus Must Die"   5:11
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Hosanna"   1:30
2. "Simon Zealotes/Poor Jerusalem"   4:49
3. "Pilate's Dream"   1:28
4. "The Temple"   4:43
5. "Everything's Alright (reprise)"   0:34
6. "I Don't Know How to Love Him"   3:41
7. "Damned for All Time/Blood Money"   4:36
Side three
No. Title Length
1. "The Last Supper"   7:10
2. "Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say)"   5:33
3. "The Arrest"   3:24
4. "Peter's Denial"   1:27
5. "Pilate and Christ"   2:46
6. "Herod's Song (Try It and See)"   3:02
Side four
No. Title Length
1. "Judas' Death"   4:17
2. "Trial Before Pilate (Including the 39 Lashes)"   5:13
3. "Superstar"   4:16
4. "The Crucifixion"   4:04
5. "John Nineteen: Forty-One[7]"   2:10


Main players

Supporting players

Other players


Other musicians



Original Concept Recording. 'Jesus Christ Superstar – "A Rock Opera" '. Universal City, CA: MCA Records Inc.[USA], ©1993 (released 24 SEP 1996). Cat. No. MCAD2-11542 [2 CDs], UPC 008811154226
(N.B.: Black title on front and back cover; gold 'angels' logo; gold lettering on the spine. Depending on the retailer, an outer sticker may state that the album was 'Digitally Remastered [Complete on 2 CDs]' and/or 'Original Artwork and Libretto'. This information is not found on the inner packaging.)


Weekly charts

Chart Position
Australian Kent Music Report[8] 6
Austrian Albums Chart[9] 4
Canadian RPM Albums Chart[10] 1
Dutch Albums Chart[11] 10
Italian Albums Chart[12] 16
Norwegian Albums Chart[13] 3
UK Albums Chart[14] 23
US Billboard 200[4] 1
West German Media Control Albums Chart[15] 11

Year-end charts

Chart (1971) Position
Australian Albums Chart[8] 4
Italian Albums Chart[12] 41
US Billboard Pop Albums[5] 1


Region Certification
United States (RIAA)[16] Gold

See also


  1. Jesus Christ Superstar > Album Overview at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 September 2006.
  2. "... the BBC banned it, they banned this record, because they thought it was sacrilegious." – Ted Neeley, in conversation with Norman Jewison
  3. Autobiography of Norman Jewison
  4. 1 2 "Allmusic: Jesus Christ Superstar : Charts & Awards : Billboard Albums". Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  5. 1 2 1971 Year-end Albums – The Billboard Pop Albums. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  6. "BEST OF ALL TIME – ALBUMS". VG-lista. Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  7. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden. In the garden was a new tomb in which no man had ever yet been laid.
  8. 1 2 Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  9. "Musical / Andrew Lloyd Webber – Jesus Christ Superstar: A Rock Opera –". Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  10. "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 15, No. 3". RPM. 6 March 1971. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  11. " Musical / Andrew Lloyd Webber – Jesus Christ Superstar: A Rock Opera" (ASP). Hung Medien (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  12. 1 2 "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1971" (in Italian). Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  13. " Musical / Andrew Lloyd Webber – Jesus Christ Superstar: A Rock Opera" (ASP). Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  14. "Album Search Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  15. "Album Search: Musical / Andrew Lloyd Webber – Jesus Christ Superstar: A Rock Opera" (ASP) (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  16. "American album certifications – Soundtrack – Jesus Christ Superstar _Original Cast_". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
Preceded by
All Things Must Pass by George Harrison
Pearl by Janis Joplin
Billboard 200 number-one album
20–26 February 1971
1–14 May 1971
Succeeded by
Pearl by Janis Joplin
4 Way Street by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
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