Jesus Christ Superstar (album)

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Jesus Christ Superstar
Jcs uk cover.png
Original UK cover
Studio album by
various artists
Released27 October 1970
Recorded10 October 1969 ("Superstar" single)
1970 in Olympic Studios, London
GenreArt rock, progressive rock
LabelDecca/MCA/Decca Broadway
ProducerTim 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
US edition cover, May 1971
Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideC−[2]

Jesus Christ Superstar is a 1970 album musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, on which the 1971 rock opera of the same name was based. Initially unable to get backing for a stage production, the composers released it as an album, the success of which led to stage productions. 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".[3][4] By 1983, the album had sold over seven million copies worldwide.[5]


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.

Lyricist Rice said he took inspiration from the Bob Dylan song "With God on Our Side".[6]

"Herod's Song" is a lyrical rewrite of "Try It and See", previously written by Lloyd Webber and Rice as a proposed British 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 Jesus Christ 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" (see John 19:41). The full album followed almost a year later.

The album topped the U.S. Billboard Top LP's chart in both February and May 1971[7] and ranked number one in the year-end chart ahead of Carole King's massive hit Tapestry.[8] 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 two-record set was packaged in the U.S. with a special thin brown cardboard outer box ("The Brown Album")[9] which contained the two vinyl records and a 28-page libretto.

Track listing[edit]

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

Side one
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
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
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."King Herod's Song"3:02
Side four
1."Judas' Death"4:17
2."Trial Before Pilate (Including the 39 Lashes)"5:13
4."The Crucifixion"4:04
5."John Nineteen Forty-One"2:10


Main players[10]

Supporting players

Other players


Other musicians


  • Alan O'Duffy – chief engineer


Original Concept Recording. Jesus Christ Superstar – A Rock Opera. Universal City, California: 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[edit]

Chart (1970–71) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report[11] 6
Austrian Albums Chart[12] 4
Canadian RPM Albums Chart[13] 1
Dutch Albums Chart[14] 10
Norwegian Albums Chart[15] 3
UK Albums Chart[16] 23
US Billboard 200[7] 1
West German Media Control Albums Chart[17] 11

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1971) Position
Australian Albums Chart[11] 4
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[18] 20
US Billboard Pop Albums[8] 1

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[20] Gold 350,000[19]
France 60,000[21]
Israel 2,500[22]
Italy 100,000[23]
Netherlands (NVPI)[24] Gold 250,000[25]
South Africa (SARI)[26] Gold 12,500[26]
Sweden 90,000[27]
United Kingdom (BPI)[29]
1970 release
Gold 180,000[28]
United States (RIAA)[30] Gold 4,500,000[28]
North America
Worldwide 7,000,000[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jesus Christ Superstar > Album Overview at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 September 2006.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: J". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor and Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved 27 February 2019 – via
  3. ^ "... the BBC banned it, they banned this record, because they thought it was sacrilegious."—Ted Neeley, in conversation with Norman Jewison "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Autobiography of Norman Jewison
  5. ^ a b Ochs, Ed (29 January 1983). "Geffen Sizzles While Biz Drizzles: Broadway is Next Stage for Pop's Top Composers". Billboard. Vol. 95, no. 4. p. B-4. ISSN 0006-2510.
  6. ^ Winston, Kimberly (30 March 2018). "The 'Splainer: The stormy, surprising history of Jesus Christ Superstar". Washington, D.C.: Religion News Service. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Allmusic: Jesus Christ Superstar: Charts & Awards: Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  8. ^ a b 1971 Year-end Albums—The Billboard Pop Albums. 25 December 1971. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  9. ^ "Jesus Christ Superstar 50 Years On" by Paul Beutel, The Austin Chronicle, 7 October 2019
  10. ^ "Original Concept Recording (1970) – Jesus Christ Superstar, recording information, Jesus Christ Superstar Zone (reference for this and subsequent sections)
  11. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  12. ^ "Musical / Andrew Lloyd Webber – Jesus Christ Superstar: A Rock Opera –". Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  13. ^ "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 15, No. 3". RPM. 6 March 1971. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  14. ^ " Musical / Andrew Lloyd Webber – Jesus Christ Superstar: A Rock Opera" (ASP). Hung Medien (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  15. ^ " Musical / Andrew Lloyd Webber – Jesus Christ Superstar: A Rock Opera" (ASP). Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  16. ^ "Album Search Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Archived from the original on 21 March 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  17. ^ "Album Search: Musical / Andrew Lloyd Webber – Jesus Christ Superstar: A Rock Opera" (ASP) (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 1 May 2013.[dead link]
  18. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. 1972. Archived from the original on 9 May 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  19. ^ "Superstar Gets Gold". Billboard. 29 September 1973. p. 47. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  20. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Original Soundtrack – Jesus Christ Superstar - Ost". Music Canada.
  21. ^ "From the Music Capitols of the World - London" (PDF). Billboard. 6 October 1973. p. 82. Retrieved 11 May 2022 – via World Radio History.
  22. ^ "From the Music Capitols of the World - Tel Aviv" (PDF). Billboard. 4 September 1971. p. 41. Retrieved 11 May 2022 – via World Radio History.
  23. ^ "CBS-Sugar Sees Sweet Picture in Economy Despite Economy Sag". Billboard. 6 July 1974. p. 38. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  24. ^ ""Jesus" Goes Gold" (PDF). Cashbox. 7 December 1974. p. 48 – via American Radio History.
  25. ^ "From The Music Capitols of the World - Amsterdam" (PDF). Billboard. 21 August 1976. p. 50. Retrieved 3 December 2019 – via American Radio History.
  26. ^ a b "'Superstar' SA Gold" (PDF). Cash Box. 10 July 1971. p. 39. Retrieved 11 May 2022 – via World Radio History.
  27. ^ "From The Music Capitols of the World - Stockholm" (PDF). Billboard. 10 June 1972. p. 50. Retrieved 3 December 2019 – via American Radio History.
  28. ^ a b "'Christ' New Champ" (PDF). Billboard. 21 October 1978. p. 76. Retrieved 11 May 2022 – via World Radio History.
  29. ^ "British album certifications – Soundtrack – Jesus Christ Superstar (Original Cast)". British Phonographic Industry.
  30. ^ "American album certifications – Soundtrack – Jesus Christ Superstar (Original Cast)". Recording Industry Association of America.
  31. ^ ""Superstar" Film Israeli Locale". Billboard. 6 May 1972. p. 84. Retrieved 3 December 2019.

External links[edit]