CATS (Original London Cast)
I’m not all that superstitious, but in a strange way fate took a hand. I was driving home one night, listening to the radio. I heard a fragment of “Memory”, and the DJ said ‘I’ll play the whole of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s theme from his new musical, ‘Cats’, after the midnight news’. The tune so gripped me, I dived out of the car and ran towards the house to tape the music. Fumbling for my keys, I see a mangy, thin black cat pathetically struggling toward me. At that moment, I remembered what my mother always said: ‘If a black cat crosses your path, it’s good luck’. Once it had passed by, I hurried into the house, turned on the recorder and taped “Memory”. That night I took my Sony Walkman to bed and played the tune over and over again.
“Memory” is such a haunting ballad, with an operatic climax in true Andrew Lloyd Webber style. It ends with an emotional expression of hope: ‘If you touch me, you’ll understand what happiness is. Look, a new day has begun!’ It was my kind of song! I was determined to ring Andrew the very next morning to ask, plead even, to be allowed to record it, even though I had nothing to do with the show.
In the morning I was woken by the phone. It was the producer, Cameron Mackintosh, asking me to meet Trevor Nunn and Gillian Lynne. Cats was about to start previews in a few days’ time and they had a problem. Judi Dench, who was to play Grizabella, had torn her Achilles tendon and was in hospital. Could I take over? At such short notice I was apprehensive, but Cameron explained apologetically that the role of Grizabella, unlike ‘Evita’, was a cameo with only the one song “Memory”. I needed no more persuasion. Cats was another ground-breaking, award-winning British musical. No one had seen anything quite like it!
I’m told, that more than 150 artists have recorded versions of “Memory”. But I’m possessive and I still see it as my signature as I was the first Grizabella.
Note: The original London cast album of ‘Cats’ attained a Platinum certification by the BPI (The British Recorded Music Industry) for sales in the UK – this award marks sales of 300,000 units of an individual album title to UK retailers.
Prologue. Jellicle Songs For Jellicle Cats
The Naming Of Cats
The Invitation To The Jellicle Ball
The Old Gumbie Cat
The Rum Tum Tugger
Grizabella (Elaine Paige)
Mungojerrie And Rumpelteazer
The Jellicle Ball
Grizabella: The Glamour Cat
Memory (Elaine Paige)
The Moments Of Happiness
Gus: The Theatre Cat
Growltiger's Last Stand / Ballad Of Billy McCaw
Skimbleshanks The Railway Cat
Macavity The Mystery Cat
Memory (Elaine Paige & Sarah Brightman)
Journey To The Heavyside Layer
The Ad-Dressing Of Cats