iTunes release on April 1 and Physical Release April 22, 2014.
Ted Neeley Set to Deliver a New Release Titled Los Angeles, CA, March 24, 2014 --(PR.com)-- Best known for his quintessential portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth in Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s beloved, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Ted Neeley is releasing the appropriately titled “Rock Opera.” Ted plays to his strengths on the new 5 song EP and showcases his vocal range, which made him an icon of stage and screen since the film by Academy Award winning director, Norman Jewison, was released. “Rock Opera” highlights selected tracks from the original Rock Operas, Superstar and Tommy as well as unique collaborations with longtime dear friends.
Ted created the role of Tommy in the original theatrical production of the same name, and “Rock Opera” includes the outstanding track by The Who, “See Me, Feel Me.” The wonderful Yvonne Elliman joins Ted for their duet “Up Where We Belong” and the late, great Carl Anderson is featured in the reimagined “God’s Gift To The World.” The Bryan Adams hit, “Do I Have To Say The Words,” is also included, as well as the previously released Christmas classic, “O Holy Night.”
Present day computer technology allowed “Rock Opera” to feature a duet with the late Carl Anderson and as Ted explained, “It was one more chance to sing with my musical collaborator and best friend.” With this collection of songs, Ted hopes to please everyone who loves the combination of Rock and Musical Theatre.
The iTunes digital version will be released on April 1, 2014 worldwide and it includes an exclusive track, the beloved and emotional Live Version of “Gethsemane” from Jesus Christ Superstar. The physical CD package which includes a poster and a never before seen picture of Ted on set in Israel, while filming Jesus Christ Superstar in 1972, will be released on April 22, 2014.
“Rock Opera” was produced by Frank Munoz (Ace Frehley’s Anomaly, Jason Newsted’s METAL EP) and was born out of a partnership with fan-funded site, Pledge Music and Ted’s newly founded TedHead Records. The imprint was aptly named as a nod to Ted’s dedicated fans who supported a two-month promotion that successfully raised the capital required for the “Rock Opera” project to be recorded and marketed.
Ted is currently in Italy performing as Jesus of Nazareth in Jesus Christ Superstar 2014, Live at Il Teatro Sistina in Rome, produced and directed by Massimo Romeo Piparo. Ted is available for interviews pertaining to his current performances, along with the Special Anniversary In Person Screening Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar and the new “Rock Opera” release.
Official Ted Neeley and The Little Big Band Press Release
Coming Full Circle, Ted Leads a Band Again as in Days of Yore
The new show also features stories and musical material from his career as a rock opera pioneer, including selections from Tommy, Hair, Sgt. Pepper’s, and of course, Jesus Christ Superstar. Ted also opens the vault of images and unseen footage from his personal archives, including interviews with directors Norman Jewison and Tom O’Horgan, Tommy Smothers, and many others.
The tour opens with a special tribute to the late, great Carl Anderson, Judas to Ted’s Jesus in the film and on several tours. The inaugural show is set for March 15th in the auditorium of Carl’s old high school in Lynchburg, VA, the very stage upon which he debuted as a youth and now named in his honor. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the theatre program of the school. The tour visits 17 cities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic in March and April, and will move to other regions of the US and Canada in summer and fall 2013.
For tour schedule and more information, visit www.tedneeley.com, or contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
He’s just a man… He’s just a man…
Try telling that to Quentin Tarantino. On one of those ubiquitous sunny California
winter days in early 2012, Ted Neeley sat in an idling car at an imposing security gate
waiting for a response from the large house on the hill above; he had been summoned out
of that LA blue by Tarantino, ostensibly for some as yet unnamed film project. The OK
for entrée given, the gate slowly rolled open and a figure appeared at the top of the
driveway. Arms splayed wide, the call of “Jeeeeeeeeezusssssssssss” rang through the
semi-peaceful valley and Tarantino, manically animated as ever, swept down and
scooped up Ted in a big bear hug. “I used to play you in my bedroom as a kid!” he
extolled as the two men regarded each other. Tarantino, ever the lover of all things
movie, particularly those of the fringe and kitsch, had such a high regard for both the film
and Ted as its central figure that he wanted to include Neeley in his latest film, the
spaghetti western cum southern gothic slave romp, Django Unchained. How could
Teddie Joe say no to that offer?
And as usual, Tarantino is on to something. In a recent online poll featured on The
Huffington Post, formatted as a March Madness style system of brackets that pitted
classic Jesus films against each other, Jesus Christ Superstar bested Monty Python’s Life
of Brian to take the championship. And although one may certainly credit the great
Norman Jewison for his direction, or stirring performances by the late great Carl
Anderson and the rest of the ensemble, Ted Neeley is at the center of it all - as one would
expect of Jesus in a film about Jesus, to be sure. Yet something remains of the energy, the
naïve enthusiasm of the times, dare I say it – authenticity? With its stripped down, desert
back-dropped production design, its liberal (also somewhat reflective of the cinematic
times) use of the camera zoom, and fervent, earnest performances the film holds its own
against all comers. It has a raw, almost unselfconscious quality that few other films of
that genre have, and certainly stands out in the current climate of the uber-jaded, cloying,
image controlling entertainment industry.
And Ted? Raw? He was back those many years ago in Ranger, Texas, a dusty little
town between Dallas and Amarillo where he first picked up a pair of drumsticks and
performed locally with his school buddies whenever an opportunity presented itself. Less
raw when that band morphed into a rough and tumble outfit that could play a county fair
or a beer-soaked honky-tonk. And even less as the band crawled its way across the
Southwest towards the glimmering mirage of Los Angeles, paying for the gas and food
by playing at any shack or shed that would have them.
And then they landed on the Sunset Strip in the mid-sixties, right at the genesis of the
seminal LA scene that would launch so many artists. Seeing as they had played so many
gigs and covered so many musical genres out of necessity, the band began working
immediately. And Ted began to attract attention. As he puts it, “I was the guy who could
hit the high notes”. Most of the boys eventually filtered back to Texas, but Teddie stayed
on. In 1965 he signed a contract with Capitol Records at the helm of the Teddie Neeley
Five and yes, he even made the cover of Teen Beat magazine. But teenybopper stardom
wasn’t in the cards for Neeley. Almost by accident he wound up at an audition for a new
rock musical when he accompanied an actor friend to the open call. Next thing you know,
he was standing in the stark glare of a single stage light. A voice from the darkness
commanded him to sing something, anything. The voice belonged to director Tom
O’Horgan, and the show was Hair. And the rest, as they say….
Eventually came Superstar on Broadway, and in LA (the first show ever at the
Universal Amphitheatre) and a series of misses and near misses that led to Neeley’s
casting in the 1973 film and Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actor in a Musical and
one for Newcomer of the year - another one of those overnight successes that are many
years in the making. A few films followed, an album, television appearances; Ted
composed for several films and worked in the studio with various artists.
And then again came the divine light; several regional reprises of the Superstar role
led to a large-scale revival of the show that reunited Ted and his erstwhile Judas, Carl
Anderson. That tour lasted from early 1992 until 1997. Other versions followed, so much
so that those of us who know Ted quip that he’s been Jesus longer than Jesus was, or that
perhaps he might want to consider a re-imagining of the show as “Moses Christ
But that wouldn’t really fit Ted. He is eternally young, almost preternaturally so. And
as in those ancient days of Sunset Strip yore, he’s still “the guy who can hit the high
notes”. At a recent mounting of Ted’s new stage show at the venerable Rubicon Theatre
in Ventura, California (which Ted was a founder of) the audience was on its feet as
always for Neeley’s searing “Gethsemane”. This is wine that has aged well. The notes are
still there, but the gravitas experience hath wrought brings with it facets of interpretation
that were missing in the original.
But no world-weariness for Ted; he’s too busy with the present. The new show
features highlights of his musical and professional history, lore and back-stories mostly
untold except for those who know him personally, and music from his new CD that
combines the rangy Texas dust of his youth with the nuances of a world wanderer. He’s
fronting a band again as he was in the beginning; and he’s in that little Tarantino film. And when you come to his show should you thrust your arms out and shout out “Jeeeeeeeeezusssssssssss”….
Well, that’ll be all right by him.
'Superstar' Ted Neeley returns to his first love
When Ted Neeley became a 'Superstar,' he stopped playing in bands. Tonight at the Rubicon in Ventura, he returns to his first love
By Karen Lindell
Friday, January 20, 2012
Ted Neeley will make you think he talks too much.
"I have a reputation for yammering a lot," he says sheepishly in his Texan drawl. "I run off at the mouth."
"Don't get me started," he warns, after almost veering off into a discussion of how "career politicians need to make the political system something that really serves the people as opposed to serving themselves."
But at heart, Neeley is more gracious listener than garrulous gabber.
The "Jesus Christ Superstar" star, 68, who has played Jesus so many times in the pop-rock musical since 1971 that he's spent more time as Jesus than the real Jesus, is known for staying hours after shows to meet with every fan who wants one-on-one time. During such conversations, and even during an interview with a reporter, you have to steer him away from asking the questions.
And although Neeley has never had any formal training as a singer, drummer, actor or composer, he's been successful in all those areas in part because he's all ears.
"He's probably the most insightful person I've ever met, and I think in a way it's tied to the notion of him being a good listener," said Karyl Lynn Burns, founder and producing artistic director of the Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura and a longtime colleague and friend of Neeley's. "He learns very quickly."
Burns saves most of her praise, however, for the insightful listening connections that Neeley makes with fans.
"Ted can spend hours with someone; I think people feel heard and loved," she said. "He is kind of this soulful listener. I've heard people say he's looking into their soul."
Neeley is now listening to his own soul. Despite his thousands of performances as Jesus — and he'll still do any production of "Superstar" if someone asks — Neeley is most drawn to being in a band, something he hasn't done "officially" since the 1960s.
Fans will get a chance to hear many of Neeley's original tunes, which are a mix of country, rock and blues, for the first time when he returns to his music roots at the Rubicon.
Tonight, he'll premiere a run of 10 concerts at the theater as the frontman for his newly formed Little Big Band (five musicians with big talent).
The Rubicon has a history with Neeley: Burns' husband, Rubicon co-founder James O'Neil, became friends with Neeley when they both performed in a touring production of "Jesus Christ Superstar." Neeley starred in Rubicon's first-ever fundraiser, a concert version of "Superstar," in 1998 (and even hosted a "First Supper" meal for potential board members), then played a convicted murderer in "Murder in the First" in 2000 and Lucky in "Waiting for Godot" in 2004.
One reason he moved to Ventura from Texas in 2007 is his tremendous respect and affection for the Rubicon Theatre, and Burns and O'Neil.
When Rubicon offered Neeley the part of Lucky in "Waiting for Godot," Burns said, the actor had never been in a Samuel Beckett play. Director Walter Asmus (a Beckett expert who worked directly with the playwright) "was amazed at how he got the essence of who the character was, without any history of studying Beckett."
BACK TO A BAND
As a musician, Neeley never studied either. He started playing drums in a band during grade school because "we needed a drummer," and as a songwriter, has mainly absorbed material from other musicians, he said.
"I'm influenced by everybody," Neeley said of his original songs. "I've stolen from every other artist I've heard in my life."
He did get an early start in the music business, long before he joined the musical business.
"Singing and playing drums in a band got me from Texas to California to start with," Neeley said. The night he and his bandmates graduated from high school, they headed to California." The idea, he said, was to tour during the summer and return to Texas in the fall, but "we did well enough in California that we never went back."
The band stuck together, living in Los Angeles, "until the draft board split up the band, and then I was on my own," he said. Neeley drifted to Las Vegas and survived at nightclubs doing his Bobby Darin impression.
Then, he heard about an audition for a musical in Los Angeles. He planned to just go with a friend to watch, but ended up trying out and landed a lead role in "Hair."
"Hair" led to roles in "Superstar," both the musical and 1973 film, and other musicals such as "Tommy" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." He's also composed music for film, and participated in marathon tours of "Superstar" from 1992-97 and 2006-10.
Lee Marshall, CEO of MagicSpace Entertainment, which produces touring theater shows, worked with Neeley for eight years as a producer for "Superstar." He recently invited Neeley to play Jesus in a community production of the show in Marshall's hometown of Park City, Utah, at the 300-seat Egyptian Theatre. "Fifteen of 18 shows sold out," Marshall said. "In our town, that's a mighty feat."
Neeley "is the only person I've seen play Jesus that is totally believable," Marshall said. "He's a legend in this role; people come from far corners of the earth to see him" (fans are known as "Ted Heads"). "And he can still hit all the high notes."
Marshall, who will travel from Utah to see Neeley at the Rubicon, said the singer "has been talking to me about the band thing for 20 years. 'Superstar' had gotten in the way of his dream."
Neeley, however, repeatedly emphasizes how grateful he is for his "Superstar" longevity.
"But still in the back of my mind, I've been longing to get with the band and play," he said. "There's nothing as free for me as being able to be in a band singing songs, no matter whose songs they are."
The Rubicon shows will include Neeley's original compositions along with cover tunes by artists he's a fan of such as The Beatles and The Eagles, and songs from the Broadway shows he's known for.
"There's a lot of recognizable material mixed in with my original material," he said. "I could do easily three hours of all original music, but I thought as an audience person that would be kind of boring. I hope I can make my original music sound or feel as good as the songs from somebody else."
His "Little Big Band" members are guitarist-vocalist Kim Norton, who played lead guitar in numerous productions of "Superstar" with Neeley; guitarist Craig Stull; singer-bassist Candy Chase; pianist Ed Martel; and drummer Gavin Salmon. All are session musicians in L.A., he said, who are "cutting some of their own employment down to do this with me. They're being very generous to give me some time."
Those eager to see Neeley reprise his drumming prowess will be disappointed, however. "The people I discussed doing this project with thought I should be out front, as opposed to sitting behind the drums," he said.
If the show tours around the country, however, "I'll have a second set of drums up there so I can go back and play from time to time with the band," he said.
And Neeley definitely needs a band backing him, he said. "It's a little bit boring to just have a guy screaming behind the drums."
LONGER THEATER LIFE
About the only subject Neeley WILL talk about endlessly, because he wants everyone to know about it, is the Rubicon Theatre Company.
"This is home for me," he said of the theater. "I've seen lots of shows in lots of places, including New York, and there's nobody who does productions any better and more artistically beautifully than Jim and Karyl Lynn and their associates. I'm going to do as much as I can now with the Rubicon."
He doesn't have a formal position with the theater — at least not yet — and isn't a likely candidate to participate on a board of directors, he said, because "I'm too much of a free spirit."
Burns said that "we've talked about possibility of a formal role for Ted; informally he's definitely been the best consultant we can have."
Neeley would like to get involved with encouraging Rubicon and other local theaters to tour their productions rather than stick to a limited run at home before moving on to something else.
"Community theater is thriving in this country, but nobody knows it," he said. "There's thousands of them, literally. So I'm feeling it's maybe my calling, because of my touring experience, to help all of them develop a touring circuit of community theaters who will collaborate with each other to do great projects. They all then have the opportunity to just stay in their community, or expand to adjoining communities, and ultimately, go to Broadway. Why not?"
Rubicon has experimented successfully with touring productions, Burns said.
Neeley encouraged Rubicon early on, she said, to give shows a longer life and create an alternative revenue stream.
"Donation income has been pretty moderate in last couple of years, so touring income helps sustain the company," she explained. "It's helped us through the challenges of the recession." Rubicon's production of "Daddy Long Legs," for example, has now played in 14 cities. The theater's "Lonesome Traveler," written and directed by O'Neil, is starting a run at the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach, and "Fascinating Rhythms" was "built to tour as well," Burns said.
Neeley doesn't limit his sights to professional theaters like the Rubicon.
"It's the little tiny nonunion theaters that create some of the most wonderful work in the world," he said.
"I can talk all day and night about it."
Keep your ears, and your mind, open to the idea.