CARL ANDERSON - 1946-2004

***NOTE ON THE BACKGROUND MUSIC ON THIS PAGE (and in the tribute video posted below):

This LOVELY song/MP3, "If I Could" was found, and sent to me by Christina (Tina) Henley (, and couldn't be MORE APPROPRIATE for this page, IMO.  It can be found here, if you'd like to download it yourself:
(just click on the picture of Carl and Brandon to download the song)


Gibson, one of my FTNL list members, found this video, and posted the following to FTNL: 

"No clue if anybody knew about this or not, although it's on Carl's Wikipedia entry, but upon his death in 2004, Leonard Cohen and a female vocalist named Anjani collaborated on a song dedicated to Carl's memory called "Nightingale." I thought the lyrics were heart-breaking and beautiful, and I knew that you guys would appreciate it, so I figured I'd post them here. Cindi, maybe you can put these on your memorial page?"

Thanks, Gibson. He also sent the lyrics, which I've posted below this video.



 [Dedicated to Carl Anderson (1945-2004)]

I built my house beside the wood
So I could hear you singing
And it was sweet and it was good
And love was all beginning

Fare thee well my nightingale
'Twas long ago I found you
Now all your songs of beauty fail
The forest closes 'round you

The sun goes down behind a veil
'Tis now that you would call me
So rest in peace my nightingale
Beneath your branch of holly

Fare thee well my nightingale
I lived but to be near you
Tho' you are singing somewhere still
I can no longer hear you


Download this video here:

Carl Anderson lost his long battle with Leukemia on February 23, 2004, just 4 days shy of his 59th birthday.   The homepage on Carl's website: ( states:

     After a long bout with leukemia,
Carl Anderson went to be with the Lord
on 23 February 2004

In lieu of flowers or gestures of sympathy,
Carl would have wanted you to make your most generous
contribution to what was perhaps the nearest and dearest project to his heart:

The Academy of Fine Arts in Lynchburg, Virginia.

A Special Fund has been established in his memory, which is
a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization to which your contributions are
tax-deductible to the maximum extent allowable by law.

Please mail your contributions to:

The Academy of Fine Arts
"Carl Anderson Memorial Fund"
600 Main Street
Lynchburg, Virginia  24504  USA

(Must be in U.S. Funds drawn on a U.S. bank.)

Thank You. 


Karyl Lynn Burns (from RTC) posted this news on 2/23 as well:

Dear Friends:
I was away in January and we jumped into rehearsal for "The Importance of Being Earnest." So please forgive me for being a bad correspondent. I'll try to be a better one in between shows.
There will be a service at Carl's church on Saturday (2/28/04) morning. I'm still in such shock about it, even though we knew he was so ill. It doesn't feel like he can be gone from this world. But aren't we all grateful for hearing his magnificent voice -- that amazing instrument of God -- and for knowing his beautiful spirit?
I'll let you know whatever I find out in the next day or so from Jim and Ted. And I know we will all keep his family in our prayers.

Funeral Service will be at 11am this Saturday

Agape Church
5700 Buckingham Parkway
Culver City, CA

Karyl Lynn Burns
Rubicon Theatre Company
1006 E. Main Street
Suite 300
Ventura, CA 93001


(Thanks for sending this to me, Veth)


Jenn posted this lovely message on Carl's funeral service  on 2/27/04 to Ted's list:

hi all--

just a quick note about the services... what a tribute and celebration!!! the room was so full of energy and love. there is so much to tell you about the 4 hour plus service that i will leave that to kat and veth and just say that there were several times when i got chills and felt that that was because you all were thinking about carl and your energy was in the room with us! 

the service began like a concert , everyone on their feet, great music blasting through the room people clapping their hands swaying to the music, you couldn't help but get caught up in the love that was circulating in the sanctuary. throughout the service, there were special musical guests, most famous to most was stevie wonder, who is a long time friend of carl. many people spoke, including ted. carl's family showed such strength as they all got up before carl's friends and spoke. it was very touching.

my mom and i left at 3:00pm because we had parked in a lot that asked the agape guests to park elsewhere after 3:00pm. as we left, we said hi to ted, exchanged a hug and then left. veth left with us but i think kat was going to move her car and return. i didn't see karyl lynn :-( but i did see forbes candlish, which was a nice surprise. he was a producer of the jcs tour that ted and carl did.

there are many more interesting details that i'm sure veth and kat will tell everyone about. i just wanted to tell you how wonderful this tribute to carl was and how happy i am to have been able to attend this amazing man's service!

i do believe you were all there too!!



 VJ (Veth Javier) ( posted this message on 2/29/04:

The memorial service was well organized starting from the volunteers at the parking lot (if you have been to L.A. you would understand what I mean),  to many enlarged pictures of Carl at the entrance and numerous organized volunteers making you feel welcomed and comfortable.
The huge choir was quite racially diverse, very L.A.  They made everybody groove.  It was like a big party at times.
Tim Rice, on a quick stop in Los Angeles, heard about Carl's passing and was able to say a few words on his way to the airport.  We sat about 10 rows behind Ted.  He spoke along with many family members and very close friends.  Stevie Wonder talked about meeting Carl at 19 years old.  He made us laugh a lot.  I did not know Stevie Wonder is a comedian.  Another described Carl's singing...stretching his hands out..."like his voice coming out of his fingers."  Carl's stepdaughter, Laila Ali, was very candid and funny.  She takes up after her Dad.  Kathleen, Carl's former wife adored him.  She said Carl made her believe in herself and claims that he is responsible for her successful writing career, her first big break was "Little House on the Prairie."  Did anyone know that?  Khalil, Carl's tall, handsome, son said a few words and mentioned that Carl had joined his twin brother who passed 58 years ago.  He thanked Veronica for never leaving Carl's side even when he could not be there at times (during the difficult moments.)  The most moving for me was Veronica's eloquent words about letting Carl go without baggage and regrets, just unconditional love.  She said Carl's last words were "I can't do this anymore" with a teardrop down one eye.  Then his breathing got more shallow and finally stopped.
Towards the end, we all got up and gave Carl his final standing ovation that lasted for quite a while.
Carl was so loved and he gave so much of himself.  He took so many people under his wings. I did not know this about Carl.  Unbelievable.  There was so much love.
On my drive home, I remember seeing a production of JCS in Long Beach around 1995(?) without Carl.  During intermission, I saw Carl and told him that there is no other Judas but him.  In the history of the world, only Carl can probably take that as a compliment.  He gave me a big hug.  We never talked about his hugs here but they were pretty damn good, too.

Michelle Ayers ( posted this message on 2/29/04:

Just wanted to make a couple comments on the wonderful celebration of like for Carl Anderson at the memorial service on Saturday. I had attended the ceremony alone, but certainly did not feel alone when I left. There were so many warm and caring people, dancing, singing, holding hands, crying, and praying together. Carl's spirit filled everyone in the room.

There were so many wonderful speakers, Stevie Wonder, a surprise appearance by JCS author Tim Rice, Nancy Wilson, friends and family, and Ted. He had such beautiful words to say...the connection of his spirit with Carl and how that connection came to us, his fans.

I didn't know Carl personally, I did meet him a couple times after the show. I don't know Ted either, but I approached him after just to tell him what beautiful words he spoke and he stood there and opened up his arms to me and as we hugged he thanked me and said "Carl thanks you." What a lovely thing to say to a complete stranger, yet as Ted put it, we are all connected through their spiritual connection.

I left feeling full and knowing that Carl lives on in us all.

Karyl Lynn Burns ( Posted These Two Messages on 3/1/04:

Veth and Jenn and Chellebelle (sorry, I don't know your real name):
You described Carl's memorial service so beautifully. I am sorry I didn't get to see Jenn and Judy and Veth. It was great to see Kat and get to give her a hug and visit for a few minutes.
Ted and Jim and I barely got there before it started from Ventura. We dropped Teddy off and parked and then slipped in the back. We talked on the way down about Carl, and Ted and Carl's special friendship.
Everyone has described the service in wonderful detail, but here are a few more bits and pieces (and some of the same).
When we came, the 120-voice Agape International Choir was singing "the spirit of God is upon us," which later became "the spirit of Carl is upon us." In addition to the singers (as Veth mentioned, of all colors and sizes in casual, colorful attire). There was a pianist, a saxophonist and a drummer. I couldn't see others, but it sounded like there may have been a couple others, perhaps a bass and guitar player. 
The service alternated remembrances and eulogies by three or four people at a time with music. Stevie Wonder sang "If It's Magic and "Always." I agree, Veth, his stories about Carl were very funny. He talked about meeting Carl in Washington D.C. and asking Carl how he sang the way he did. He said, Carl told him, "You got to sing with your diaphram, boy." He repeated that phrase several times in a humorous way. He said that Carl sang on "Songs in the Key of Life," which I didn't know. Nancy Wilson sang acapella and spoke about performing with Carl at Carnegie Hall.  Carl's agent spoke and said that they had been together for going on three decades, which to him was a sign of Carl's great capacity for loyalty and love. Frank Wildhorn sent a letter on behalf of himself and Linda Eder. Tim Rice said a quick hello as he happened to have been in town. Tom McCoy (Cathy Rigby's husband), who is producing the current tour of "Superstar" talked about Carl's involvement in that tour. He said that after hearing of Carl's passing he went to visit the company in Tucscon, and that he and the cast members drank red wine and smoked Cuban cigars in Carl's memory (which he liked to do). A friend of Carl's who was part of a group of men called "The Gathering" talked about how they had given living eulogies to each other, so that he had been able to tell Carl how he felt about him while he was living. We should all do this, shouldn't we?
The music was the most amazing to me. All of the singers were amazing. They played a CD of Carl singing "The Lord's Prayer" at the beginning and two others part way through. I cried through the week, but the service was so magnificently joyous -- I really didn't need to cry. I felt Carl's presence very strongly. The large picture of him up front was a constant reminder of his gorgeous smile. There were many mentions of his smile. One singer, who Carl met recently at a tribute to Marilyn and Alan Berman and Cy Coleman at the Kennedy Center, Steve (what was his last name?), said that his wife had been very sick with cancer when he and Carl were performing there. He had to learn all new music and didn't think he could get through it -- partially because he was so worried about his wife. Carl told him they would get through it together, a day at a time. Later, Carl was at the other end of the hall at Cedars Sinai Hospital. Carl said to him, "This is really bad. I'm not sure I'm going to come through this." Steve said to him, "We'll get though it together a day at a time."
I think it was Steve who said that when God was making Carl, he said, "I'll give him an amazing voice." Then he said, "I'll give him great acting skills." Then he made him handsome. And a great husband. And friend. And then he said, "I'll just give Carl everything."
Some people spoke about Carl being a Renaissance man. Several mentioned Carl's newfound love of painting. I was so yearning to see his paintings (one person compared his art to that of Gaugin). They must have been in the room some place I didn't see. But afterwards, I saw people loading some of the paintings into Veronica's car. They were exquisite.
Carl's doctor spoke about his relationship to Carl, and said he had come to love him. He said that Veronica, Carl's wife, was there every day by his side and slept there every night at the hospital.
I loved what Laila Ali (Mohammed Ali's daughter with Veronica) said, too. She said that she would be there for her mother in the same way her mother had been there for Carl. She was so funny and frank, too. She said that she had never been as impressed with Carl as everyone else, but then she hadn't been as impressed with her own father as everyone else, too.
We were so proud of Kahlil. He looks more and more like Carl every day. Kahlil talked about reading the article in the L.A. Times and realizing how much is missing in an obituary. He said he wanted to fill in the blanks, but said that we all would fill in the blanks with our individual stories and experiences of Carl.
For those who remember Michele Wiley from "Superstar," and her younger sister (who used to babysit for Tessa and Zachariah backstage), she and Kahlil have remained friends and she is living in Malibu now.
It was great to see many friends there. Paul Ainsley, who was the original Herod in "Superstar" on Broadway. David Holmes, who was in our production of "Superstar" here in Ventura with Ted and Carl. Elina de Santos, an exquisite director who knew Carl from church. Some fans/friends of Carl who live in Iowa who flew in having only heard about the service the night before. People who performed with Ted and Carl 30 years ago. My guess is that there may have been from 2,000 to 3,000 people there. Carl connected so many people from so many walks of life -- the theatre, the music industry, his church, his charitable work.
One singer, Nikki, talked about Carl mentoring her. He was very active in the music ministry at Agape.
Ted was so eloquent, of course, and funny as well (just another example of how truly joyous this all was). He joked about Carl turning to him and saying, "Neeley, let's get married." Their partnership was so very real and deep and spanned so many years. 
Veronica organized the whole service. She is a person of such integrity and class. It was the most uplifting, rejuvenating service I have ever experienced. Joyous really.
One of the things I was so touched by was how often many people said that Carl had "a good death." That his death was like his life, and that he had great dignity in his passing. That he was compassionate and concerned for others even until the end. The pastor said, "We know that birth is not the beginning and death is not the end." I believe that, too.
Blessings to you all. I'm ready for a good night's sleep!


I know most of you are far away, but for those who are close by and would like to join us...
Ted wanted so to get to see those of you who were there, but with such a large crowd we couldn't even find each other.
He also really wanted to have a quiet time with a smaller group of friends to share a meal, and stories about Carl and remembrances.
We're going to do that tomorrow night at the theatre (Monday).  It's impromptu since we just opened a show, so will not really be structured. We'll meet at 7:00 p.m. downstairs in our rehearsal room, each bring a dish or beverage to share, watch a little of the "Beggar's Holiday" video with Carl since Ted never got to see it, and just hang out. Maybe we'll all sing around the piano - I dunno. Judy and Jenn, can't wait to see you and give you that hug since we didn't find each other. Kat, I know you're coming, too. E-mail me if you're going to come Veth, or anyone else close by. I think a few friends from our "Superstar" and "Beggar's Holiday" casts will be there and a couple of board members.
Sorry again for not being a great correspondent of late -- when we're in the heavy rehearsal period and tech, it's pretty hard. We opened "The Importance of Being Earnest" last night. I was so keyed up from the service, I watched the first act but couldn't really watch the second act. That's a first.
Love to you all.


Kat posted this message on 3/2/04:

Now that the weekend is over I finally have a moment to post. I think that Jenn, Karyl Lynn and Veth covered Carl's memorial services very well and there is little I can add. It was a very emotional and beautiful experience. There were times I was singing, times I was dancing, times I was laughing and times I was overcome by uncontrollable tears (and sometimes even deep heart-wrenching sobs). No wonder after nearly 4 and 1/2 hours of this, I felt like I had been through an emotional wringer and was completely drained. Nevertheless, the final emotion that I left with was peace and joy for the life of our wonderful friend.

Some of the highlights for me were: Stevie Wonder's 2 songs, Tim Rice's speech, Laila Ali's candor, Carl's ex-wife Kay and son Kahlil's speeches, the message from Frank Wildhorn and Linda Eder (who could not be present) that Frank wrote that was read by Hollywood agent Syd Craig, Nancy Wilson's acapella solo, of COURSE Ted's sharing and finally Veronica's words about Carl -- particularly about his last words "Please let me go -- I can't do this anymore..."

I had been to Agape before and was familiar with the way they do their weekly worship services and the wonderful choir and soloists. There is one particular soloist (whose name escapes me for the moment and I'd look in the program for it, but it's at home and I'm not) who gives me chills whenever I hear her sing. She did a couple of songs in the service and I was totally blown away by her voice all over again.

They also played several songs by Carl -- his killer version of "The Lord's Prayer" which (after a long musical intro) opened the services and "If I Could" being the 2 major stand-outs for me.

Last night in the sharing at our gathering at the Rubicon someone (Jim, I think) mentioned that Quincy Jones had labeled Carl as "the best male voice ever". Stevie Wonder credits Carl for teaching him about singing "from your diaphragm, boy". When I attended one of Carl's annual birthday shows for the first time (years ago), James Ingram was there and clearly expressed his admiration for Carl's talent when Carl finally coaxed him up onstage to duet with him. At that same show, in a small club in LA, the audience was littered with other celebrities who were obviously captivated by Carl's performance. My point is one that someone else made at the services -- that a talent like Carl's should have been more widely recognized -- especially when so many far LESS talented individuals have enjoyed far greater fame than Carl ever had.

But as much as Carl pursued the notoriety as much as any other performer, I think that in his heart, he never really cared that much that he didn't become the superstar he should have been. He was happy to share his gift and know who he was in the world and to be loved by the people that mattered to him.

With all the people he held special, Carl always had room in his heart for new friends and (like someone else we know) made you feel like you were the only person on the planet when he was talking to you. I will never forget the first time that I attended one of his birthday shows, how he and everyone there (who obviously knew him much better than I did at the time) made me feel I was as much a part of the family and circle of friends who had gathered to see him in that small LA club. (I also remember telling me after I had stayed through the second show that night that he could sing the phone book to me and I'd be thrilled...)

I am so happy to have been able to share at least a small part of Carl's life and to have had and made many of my own memories of times I spent with him. Though his body has passed on, his spirit truly does live on in all of us and I felt it strongly both at the services at Agape and last night at the Rubicon.



Friday, April 9


A Tribute to Carl Anderson, Superstar: This special night will feature friends and performances, a silent auction and more. All proceeds will go to support Carl's family to cover medical expenses. Please mark your calendar and plan to join us in the Agape Sanctuary. Benefit tickets will be available soon.


To leave a message in Carl's website guestbook, go to:  

There is also a Blog that a number of us have left posts on, including Ted, himself.  Here is the URL:


The LA Times Obituary Link:,1,3336944.story

February 25, 2004 - LOS ANGELES TIMES


Carl Anderson, 58; Actor Played Judas in 'Jesus Christ Superstar'

By Elaine Woo, Times Staff Writer

Carl Anderson, a balladeer and actor known for his rich, expressive voice, whose greatest success during a three-decade career was playing Judas in the landmark musical "Jesus Christ Superstar," died Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after a seven-month battle with leukemia. He was 58.

Anderson, who lived in Los Angeles, was diagnosed with leukemia last summer during a national revival tour of the Tim Rice-Andrew Lloyd Webber musical about the last week in the life of Jesus.

Anderson obituary — The obituary of balladeer and actor Carl Anderson in Wednesday's California section should have stated that his survivors included three brothers.

He did not originate the Judas role, but played it in the original Broadway production in 1971 and in the 1973 film directed by Norman Jewison.

He often said that he was destined to play Judas, a role he brought to life on stage, by his own estimate, about 1,200 times.

"It really was his show," said Tom McCoy, whose company produced the latest tour. "He did not miss a beat from the film he did of 'Superstar' 30 years ago. It's his intensity, his extreme knowledge of who Judas was … and the part Judas played in the story."

Anderson was planning to appear in a worldwide tour reuniting several of the original cast members, including Ted Neeley as Jesus, that was to open at the Vatican this fall. He directed a command performance there of selected songs from "Superstar" for Pope John Paul II as part of the Vatican Jubilee celebration in 2000.  (???????!!!!!!!)

Born in Lynchburg, Va., Anderson was one of 12 children of James, a steelworker, and Alberta, a seamstress. His mother persuaded him to join a choir when he was in high school, and he reluctantly obliged. To his surprise, singing became his passion.

After high school, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he studied at Howard University and became lead singer for a rock band called Second Eagle. When the band decided to perform songs from "Jesus Christ Superstar," which had been a sensation in England but had not yet had its American premiere, producer Robert Stigwood tried to stop them. But the unauthorized performance, part of a Palm Sunday Mass at a Washington church, went forward.

As luck would have it, a producer for the American production saw part of the show when it was covered by a camera crew from the "Today" show.

"The producer is sitting in New York and he sees a clip of me on the 'Today' show and said, 'That's Judas. Bring him here.' " So when I say this part came and found me, I really mean it," Anderson told the Chicago Tribune in 1993.

The producers wound up casting Ben Vereen as Judas for the original Broadway cast, but Anderson took over the part when Vereen was sidelined by illness. After Vereen recovered, he and Anderson alternated in the role for six months.

Anderson later played Judas in the Los Angeles premiere of "Superstar" and, despite Jewison's initial reservations, won the role in the movie, which earned him two Golden Globe nominations and an NAACP Image Award.

After the resounding success of "Superstar," Anderson found it difficult to establish an identity apart from his appearances as Judas. He refused to reprise the role during the 1970s and early 1980s and would not mention it on his resume as he pursued work as a jazz vocalist.

He recorded several albums in the 1980s and '90s, which included two moderate chart successes, "How Deep Does It Go" and "My Love Will." Another recording, "Forbidden Lover" with Nancy Wilson, was nominated for a Grammy. A duet with "Days of Our Lives" star Gloria Loring called "Friends and Lovers" was a hit in 1986.

He also appeared on television shows such as "Hill Street Blues" and in movies, including "The Color Purple."

In 2002 he joined the revival tour of "Superstar" mounted by skating star Cathy Rigby's production company, McCoy-Rigby Entertainment. Reviewers greeted his return enthusiastically, including the critic for the San Antonio Express-News who wrote that the show "ignites every time that he appears."

Anderson said his interpretation of the role changed over the years as he infused more sympathy into his portrayal. "I'm playing a much more introspective Judas," he told the Boston Herald last year.

He had received threats many times from people who disapproved of the show, which depicted Jesus as a flawed and fallible man and Judas as more of a victim than a villain. But he told another interviewer recently that he was glad that he persevered because "I have lived to see the [musical] recognized as a masterpiece."

Anderson is survived by his wife, Veronica; a son from a previous marriage, Khalil McGhee-Anderson; stepdaughters Hannah and Laila Ali; and several sisters.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Agape International Spiritual Church, 5700 Buckingham Parkway, Culver City.

Obituary Listing in Carl's Hometown Paper (courtesy of Jan Stetler):

Carl (Carlton) Earl Anderson

Carl (Carlton) Earl Anderson, formerly of Lynchburg, departed this life Monday, Feb. 23, 2004, in Los Angeles, Calif. Survived by his mother, wife, son, two stepdaughters, nine sisters and brothers, other relatives and friends. The family will be receiving friends at 3625 Craighill St. Carl B. Hutcherson Funeral Home Inc. directing, 846-1337.

Playbill Obituary:


Carl Anderson, Superstar's Judas on Stage and Screen, Dead at 58

<By Kenneth Jones
24 Feb 2004

Carl Anderson in the original Broadway production of Play On!
Photo by Ken Howard

Carl Anderson, the actor and singer who was Golden Globe Award-nominated for playing Judas in the film, "Jesus Christ Superstar," and appeared in Broadway's Play On!, died Feb. 23 after a battle with leukemia.

In addition to film, theatre, TV and concert work, he sang on a pre-Broadway album of Frank Wildhorn's The Civil War.

Mr. Anderson was 58. He was born in Lynchburg, VA, in 1945, to a steel worker father and a seamstress mother, according to his official website. Mr. Anderson got his first taste of performing when he sang in Baptist church. He also sang in high school.

While serving for two years in the Air Force, he was involved in the World Wide Air Force Talent Contest, allowing him to sing at military bases around the country, strengthening his talent.

He was noticed by a talent agent while singing with a band in Washington, DC. Part of his band's act was performing songs from the concept album of Andrew Lloyd Weber's Jesus Christ Superstar.

According to the official Carl Anderson website (here), "The concert touring company of Jesus Christ Superstar was auditioning and, on the last day of auditions, 27 June 1971, Carl - who had been delivered to New York City not knowing why he was there - auditioned for and landed the role of Judas. Two days later he was in rehearsal."

He would later say in interviews that he stepped into the Broadway role of Judas when Ben Vereen suffered throat problems. They alternated the part for a time, and Mr. Anderson then headed west to perform in the Los Angeles company of the rock opera.

But he was soon plucked from rehearsals for a screen test for film director Norman Jewison. Weeks later, he left the L.A. show to begin shooting the film of the rock opera in Israel.

Playbill On-Line could not independently conform dates of Mr. Anderson's Broadway appearance in Jesus Christ Superstar. The Internet Broadway Database information for the production is incomplete.

Mr. Anderson was Golden Globe-nominated for New Star of the Year and Actor in a Leading Role-Musical or Comedy.

In 1992, Mr. Anderson again played Judas in a North American touring revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the movie. He would play it on tour again as late as 2002 - 03.

The mosxt revcent national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, with rocker Sebastian Bach in the title role and Carl Anderson as Judas, dawned Nov. 1-17, 2002, at the LaMirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in California before traveling the country.

The new staging borrowed elements from the 2000 Broadway revival, but was altered and made more militaristic than on Broadway.

Mr. Anderson is heard as solo artist on a numnber of albums in the Epic, Polydir and GRP labels, as well as on the hot-selling Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack, which was reissued on CD in recent years.

Singing jazz, pop and adult contemporary music over the years, Mr. Anderson has a notable hit recording, Friends and Lovers, a duet with 1980s soap opera actress and singer Gloria Loring.


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Sebastian Bach, Carl's original co-star for the current JCS tour, which continues with new cast members in the leading roles, posted a wonderful tribute to Carl on his website (courtesy, again of Jan Stetler):

Heaven has gained of the greatest vocalists that Heaven will ever know . Carl Anderson passed away on Monday at the age of 57 after we did 6 months together on the road as Judas & Jesus Christ . Carl had leukemia, which is a fact made more poignant considering that I dedicated each & every performance to my father David Bierk, who died from leukemia at the age of 58 2 months before we all went on the road .
 I said this many , many , times as did everyone else on the tour, that I had never in my life met a man of Carl's age that possessed one tenth of Carl's energy . Each & every performance we would all marvel at the youthfulness & unfathomable amounts of energy that Carl Anderson led us all with . This man, almost twice my age, was all but impossible to keep up with , on-stage & off. Carl Anderson was giving %100 of himself 8 times a week , for more than 6 months, & giving us all an education in theater, singing, acting, performance, energy, stamina, & above all else, passion. The fact that he was giving us all this .... while battling leukemia......  never once showing any sign whatsoever of the condition that would in a matter of mere months take his a spiritual inspiration to us all.  Carl has gone to be with God & I am sure Heaven has never sounded so glorious! Carl sang for the Lord on this earth & now The Lord has a front row seat for "Heaven on Their Minds". I know it is rocking up there ! I also find it quite ironic that Carl went to be with The Lord on a Monday ...... the only day Broadway is dark . Monday was the only day he was free to go .............
Carl Anderson
to conquer death, you only have to die

note : you may have noticed that the above text has been revised . That is because I just learned that Carl did not know he had leukemia during the tour . One day on the way to a show in Indianapolis (a Sunday I think) Carl & I decided to follow each other from the hotel to the show, him in a car ahead of me , me in a van behind him . We got separated on the road to the show due to traffic when my cell phone rang & it was Carl . "Sebastian ! I have been in an accident ! " he exclaimed . It was about an hour before show time. He wanted me to know immediately that I would be performing that day with an understudy , & wanted me to know this in time for me to make any changes in my performance necessary to accommodate the understudy . The chemistry Carl & I had on-stage together was intense , & in retrospect I realize how considerate it was of him to think of the show , & my performance , as he was sitting on the side of the road with a busted up ride & an injured knee, not to mention having to deal with the financial loss incurred due to any performer missing a show . In fact I mentioned this to Carl on the phone when he called , to lighten the mood .
Sebastian : "Are you all right ???????"
Carl: "Yeah , Yeah , I'm fine don't worry about me . I just hurt my knee but it's not bad .  But I can't do the show , I have to fill out the reports with the police & the insurance guy "
He was not sad , or angry . His mood  was almost happy on the phone , I guess due to the fact no-one seemed to be injured in the accident . Sebastian : (joking around , which is what Carl & I spent a lot of our time doing together ) : "Dude that sucks ! You're out all that cake for the show you're gonna miss!" Carl: (laughing ) "That's all right Sebastian . Just let the cast know I can't be there today & that I am ok & to have a great show!! Give Todd (Fournier, Carl's understudy) my best & I will see you tonight or tomorrow." As I kept on driving , I passed Carl & the accident on the side of the road , dealing with the police.  I rolled down the window & stuck my head out " Hey dude everything ok?
? Carl flashed his radiant smile & with his booming tenor came the reply : "Yeah Sebastian have a great show !"     I can still see Carl standing there , with h
uge smile on his face . He was holding court with all the police , the people in the other car involved in the accident , lookers on & passersby, & I swear it was not the accident itself, but Carl Anderson's presence & energy on the side of the road that was the cause of this particular rubberneck delay . You simply did not encounter a man of Carl's charisma every day & this was evident even on the side of a road next to a broken down rent a car on a sunny Sunday morning in Indianapolis USA. It was not until Carl's treatment of his knee, due to this exact car accident ,that it was discovered that he did in fact have leukemia. I feel unbelievably fortunate to have shared the stages, hotels, & airports of the USA with Carl Anderson. His voice & spirit will live inside us all forever .

-Sebastian Bach
with thanks to Keith Challenger

NOTE:  I have the articles on the Bach/Superstar "fiasco" stored elsewhere, so if any of the new Tedheads would like to read what transpired on the tour, e-mail me, and I will send the articles back.

Barry Dennen (Pilate in the film JCS), on his website offers this link: to the following photo of Carl, as well as a few comments about Carl (also posted below) at:

Today was a sad day for JCS and music fans all over the world as we said a sad farewell to Carl Anderson. Our thoughts are with his family as we all begin to adjust to the idea that the man who defined the role of Judas will sing no more....

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Soultracks Website has posted a memorial to Carl here:



By now, we all know that Ted performed Gethsemane at Carl's Benefit, and that he is planning a second benefit in New York, tentatively scheduled for 5/10/04.  Below are some pictures of Ted performing and greeting Dr. Michael B. Beckworth and Ben Vereen at the Benefit:

w/Dr. Michael B. Beckwith

with Ben Vereen

The WireIMAGE website has posted 122 pictures of the attendees/performers at Carl's Benefit.  Their link for these pictures is:

The pictures can also be found on the Film Magic Website at:

Karyl Lynn Burns ( posted this link to Carl's Benefit Concert today (3/13/04), along with her e-mails below

Hi All:

Below is an e-mail I got from Rio at Carl's church Agape about the benefit concert to help Carl's family pay hospital bills. Stevie Wonder, Nancy Wilson and many others will perform. Thought I'd pass on tghe advance information.

I bought two tickets, but am not sure if I can go because we open Driving Miss Daisy the next night and are in previews. But I figured either way I'd support. If I can't go, I'll e-mail the group and see if someone in L.A, wants them.

Prayer for his family would be a great way to help them. And for Teddy, too, who I think is still in deep mourning. He's here in town in Ventura at the hotel, but I think is mostly about long walks on the beach. We've hardsly seen him, as close as he is. But we're holding nim close in our hearts!

XO to you all.


Karyl Lynn Burns


Hello, Karyl Lynn,

I am sending you the link for the Carl Anderson Superstar Benefit Concert. It is not yet online at our website, but it has gone out to our membership inthe e-bulletin. I just wanted to make sure that you have a choice in ticket price, since I truly feel this concert will sell out quickly.

The link is

I look forward to seeing you all again soon!

Have a Wonderful Weekend!

Peace and Blessings, Love and Light,




Carl Anderson Superstar
Benefit Concert

Friday April 9th, 2004
Agape Sanctuary

Carl's Art Exhibit & Silent Auction 6:30pm

Concert 8pm

Ticket Prices $50, $75, $100
Non-Refundable, Non-Transferable

Artists include Stevie Wonder, Nancy Wilson, Steve Tyrell, The Cast from Jesus Christ Superstar, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Chaka Khan, Brenda Russell, The Agape Choir, and more...

Acts subject to change...

ALL proceeds go directly to Carl's Family.

Location:    Agape International Spiritual Center
     5700 Buckingham Parkway
     310-348-1260 x424
     Culver City, CA 90230

UPDATE 4/20/04:

Judy Bernbaum (

Hi Group,

OK, OK, Jennifer has shamed me into writing. My name is Judy and I am her mother and, like all of you, crazy about Ted.

The concert was really great. The performances were wonderful especially those of Nancy Wilson, who looks amazingly beautiful, Gloria Loring and Kenny Lattimore's duet and Ben Vereen. As Jenn said, as soon as we heard the band strike up the first notes of Gethsemande during rehearsal, we knew something special was going to happen. And ha[[en it did. I have heard that song so many times before, in many different ways, but this was definitely not just one more. It was the best I have heard Ted sing. What a tribute to his friend Carl and the great bond they shared. Needless to say, at the end, the audience exploded. They were on their feet and I think there were not many dry eyes in the room. I'm sure there were many people who had not heard of Ted Neeley, or had never heard him sing, especially that song. But they knew that night that they had just heard something very, very special. He really brought down the house.

Afterward we waited for our hugsm kisses and conversation. I always enjoy watching him with the many people who wait to speak to him. He is always so charming and gracious, as if that person is the only one in the room. All of us who have met him and know him, know what I mean.

Wish we could attend the east coast show on May 10. Try not to miss it. I know it will be great.

It was a great evening and we were so happy to be able to support Carl's foundation and his family

Judy)) has graciously allowed me to post her comments on Carl's benefit here - THANK YOU, JUDY!:


John Conti (
has also given me permission to post this wonderful story he sent to Ted's list yesterday (THANK YOU, JOHN!):

I just wanted to share a very special personal memory with all of you from the very last performance of the touring company in Philadelphia. I had the front left box seat for that performance. I was able to see much of the activity in the wings because of my vantage point. When Ted was about to do Gethsemane Carl entered the wing and sat in an almost lotus position on the floor to watch his friend possibly perform Gethsemane for the final time. As ted began the song Carl was beaming from ear to ear and was transfixed thru the entire number. At the end he was the first to his feet to give Ted a standing ovation and you could see the love and admiration he had for his friend on his face. I'm quite sure that something very similar took place in another dimension at the memorial concert, when Ted reprised Gethsemane!

Best to all,




Playbill-On-Line officially reported  today (April 20): 

Carl Anderson's Life Celebrated May 10 at Broadway's Ford Center

By Kenneth Jones
20 Apr 2004

The life of actor and singer Carl Anderson will be celebrated 7 PM May 10 at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts on West 42nd Street in Manhattan.

Family, friends, celebrities and industry professionals will oay tribute to Anderson, perhaps best known as Judas in the film and stange show, Jesus Christ Superstar, with musical performance and brief eulogies.

Anderson, who in recent seasons had been touring in his most famous role in a new revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber hit, died Feb. 23 after a battle with Leukemia. He was 58.

The memorial service will be open to the public, however, seating is limited. Donations to the Carl Anderson Fund will be accepted.

UPDATE 4/23/04:

Barry Dennen's website has an  update on the guest performer list for Carl's second benefit on 5/10/04 (thanks Mianne ( for posting this on the list) (posted below) here: 

Barry will be in NYC on Monday, May 10th to perform in a memorial concert for the late Carl Anderson at the Ford Center on 42nd Street.
Naturally, there'll be songs from Carl's most famous role as Judas and Barry will sing Pilate, along with Natalie Toro (Mary) and Eric Kunze (Jesus) from the current JCS touring production (it won't be the whole show - just musical selections). There will be a guest appearance by Yvonne Elliman and perhaps a few other surprises.
Ted Neeley was to be there but it seems he has a scheduling conflict.*** We'll have the full story and hopefully some backstage photos later next month.

(*** Don't really want to speculate, but - maybe the scheduling conflict concerns Rasputin? It is sad that Ted can't be there, as he helped to plan this event, but we all know he'll be there in spirit.)


UPDATE 4/28/04:

It is official, Ted will not be at the 2nd Benefit. Mianne ( received the following e-mail response about this, with an address for anyone to use if they are still interested in going:

From : <>
Sent : Wednesday, April 28, 2004 10:54 AM
To :

Ted unfortunately will not be at the tribute. The list of people appraring is still being finalized, I can guarantee that you will have seats when you confirm your attendance.

Chris Holman




Well, Mianne ( has done it again.  She posted this lovely notice today.  I hope Carl knew he was loved this much while he was living, but I'm sure he knows it now:

DUNBAR Tribute/Re-Naming Service

The Auditorium at Dunbar Middle School in Lynchburg, Virginia will bere-named:


Saturday, 15 May, 2004 -- 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Dunbar Middle School

1200-1208 Polk Street

Lynchburg, Virginia


Please join family, friends and fans in paying tribute to one of Lynchburg's Native Sons!


(Thanks again, Mianne)


A Celebration on Broadway!

Your  company is joyfully welcomed in a celebration of life as we honor a spirit
who lived fully and passionately, a man who was a treasure to all who knew him.

Join us for an evening of song as we salute the magic of Carl Anderson

Monday, May 10, 2004
7:00 p.m.

The Ford Center
213 West 42nd Street  (between Broadway and 8th Avenue)
New York City

Free of Charge; Limited Seating to 1,800 persons
R.S.V.P. by 5 May to:

212.293.7070 ext.27


DUNBAR Tribute/Re-Naming Service

The Auditorium at Dunbar Middle School in Lynchburg, Virginia will be re-named:


Saturday, 15 May, 2004 -- 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Dunbar Middle School
1200-1208 Polk Street
Lynchburg, Virginia

Please join family, friends and fans in paying tribute to
one of Lynchburg's Native Sons!

Please make your most generous tax-deductible contributions to:
Agape Church
"Carl Anderson Memorial Fund"
5700 Buckingham Parkway
Culver City, CA  90230

Thank You.



A link to a very interesting article/interview Carl gave on the role/character of Judas Iscariot:

Photo of Carl Anderson as Judas from Jesus Christ Superstar.

Judas Was an Angry Black Man
By Nnedimma Okorafor

Thirty years ago, when Jesus was a Superstar, Judas was an angry black man.

Carl Anderson, who starred in the film version of Jesus Christ Superstar as the infamous but oh-so-passionate Judas Iscariot, has never had a role to equal that one. But he says he doesn't regret it.

"Thirty years ago we were in an age of spiritual enlightenment and social experimentation. Superstar was a new look at the greatest story ever told with a format that lent itself to cross-pollination of popular music and religion," he says.

Originally a chart-topping album, it morphed into a hit Broadway play. When it hit the silver screen, it became its own legend. Directed in 1973 by Norman Jewison (also the director of Fiddler on the Roof and In the Heat of the Night) Jesus Christ Superstar was very much a product of its time.

Shot on location in the cliffs, caverns and deserts of Israel, the film also boasts a cast, dressed in bellbottoms, plenty of silver jewelry, with afros and long hair, that was as multicultural as one can imagine. Mary Magdalene, played by Hawaiian singer Yvonne Elliman (known later for "If I Can't Have You," a hit song in the film Saturday Night Fever), was Jesus' caring lover and the voice of millions of women when she sang "I Don't Know How to Love Him." And how Jesus' followers could dance!

Best of all, in the eyes of critics and audience alike, was Anderson's Judas -- in many ways the movie's real star. This was a Judas who saw the evils around him, clear as daylight. He was full of passion and loved Jesus with great fervor. He had a head of nappy hair, was tall and lanky, and had the voice of deity himself.

The role garnered Anderson two Golden Globe nominations, Photoplay Magazine's Gold Medal and an NAACP Theater Award. But the role, its casting and the film itself were controversial at the time, and continue so today.

Told from the point of view of Judas, not Jesus, the Jesus Christ Superstar humanizes the last days of Jesus, using unpublished Biblical material and striking parallels with modern concepts of fame and identity.

The film implies that Jesus' followers often misunderstood Jesus' teachings, and would misquote and exaggerate his stories. Also, that Jesus may have gotten a little big headed, even sold out -- and in the process attracted the attention of the authorities. Concerned for Jesus and his people, Judas begins to try to get Jesus to change his ways. When Jesus tells Judas not to worry and continues his teaching, Judas resorts to desperate, careless measures -- ultimately betraying him.

The film also, of course, portrayed Judas as black -- not only black, but dark skinned, with very African facial features and a head full of rebellious African hair.

Director Norman Jewison initially had decided against casting a black man as Judas, and the fact that he ultimately did has meant many African Americans refuse to see the film.

"The initial reaction is 'Why a black man?'" Anderson says. But, he goes on, "I think Judas played by a black man gave the part an edge. Judas was different than the rest of the apostles, so it was also symbolic in that way." Casting Judas as black has an impact on the film, Anderson says, but it's not necessarily a negative one.

Nevertheless, the black audience tends to have not seen the film, the label blasphemy having been stamped on it and sticking, says Anderson, who graduated from the then-racially segregated Dunbar High School in Washington, DC, in the mid-1960s. This isn't just because a black man was cast as the disciple traditionally seen as Christianity's greatest villain. Many in the black church, he says, would be uncomfortable with the telling of Jesus' story through the medium of a rock opera. But, fans ask, why can't Jesus' fame be equated to stardom? For aren't stars often misinterpreted, no matter how humble they are? Are they not often persecuted and dragged down when they become too powerful? One could look at Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King and Gandhi with the same lens.

Part of spiritual growth, Anderson continues, lies in being open to different ideas. "My spirituality was born of having to question my knowledge of Biblical history," Anderson says. "The answers I found deepened my faith and fostered a thirst to know more of this man who has been a factor in history and religion for 2000 years."

Since Jesus Christ Superstar, Anderson's career has continued along multiple artistic planes. In 1997, Anderson portrayed The Duke in a Broadway adaptation of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night titled Play On! He appeared in The Color Purple and as a guest on television programs such as Hill Street Blues, has recorded several albums and won an Emmy Award for his performance on the television special Onstage L.A.

"Now I'm working on a Big Band Rhythm and Blues Project and learning to direct and develop musical theater," Anderson says. "I'm also developing a novel method of teaching people to sing."

In 1992, Jesus Christ Superstar proved to still have it. A Twentieth Anniversary tour grossed more than $100 million. Only three years ago, the original Jesus Christ Superstar Motion Picture Soundtrack was re-issued and sold millions of copies, far exceeding expectations.

Anderson has to admit he doesn't think he'll ever live the Judas role down.

"I tried for twenty years to distance myself from the Judas character and the impact that it played on my life and career," Anderson says. "After reprising the role of late, I recognize it for what it was -- the greatest role ever written for a singer-actor, and a role that has had a social and spiritual impact upon millions of people the world over!"

Nnedimma Okorafor is a freelance writer based in Chicago.

First published: April 16, 2001
About the Author

Nnedimma Okorafor is a freelance writer based in Chicago. web site © Copyright 1999-2003 Inc.
Microsoft® Encarta® Africana content © Copyright 1999-2003 Microsoft Corp. All rights reserved to media owners.

The article below is thanks to Mianne Tripp's ( research on HighBeam Research: 


Photo of Carl Anderson as Judas from Jesus Christ Superstar.

The Man Who Brought Judas To Life
Author: Hank Stuever Washington Post Staff Writer

The Washington Post


It seems to me a strange thing, mystifying (to quote the show), that singer and actor Carl Anderson, whom audiences knew from the stage and screen versions of the 1970s rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar," died the same week Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" splayed itself into movie theaters.

"Superstar" and "Passion" are wildly different takes on the death of Jesus, but both adhere to the prevailing rap on Judas Iscariot: He did what he had to do, and it drove him crazy. Judas's suicide is a disturbing contrast to the Crucifixion, is always a sidebar, and yet it's the scene that most haunts me in almost any Passion play.

Anderson, 58, died Monday in Los Angeles of leukemia. By his estimation, he'd performed the part of Judas onstage more than 1,000 times. He also starred in Norman Jewison's 1973 film version (I say starred, because "Superstar," despite its title, is really about Judas's nervous breakdown), and for a generation of children and teenagers who saw the film, Anderson personified the fallen disciple, gave him dimension, and made him more human than the traitorous demon he'd become over the centuries.

Sister Joan Mary, my seventh-grade religion teacher, was surprised to learn that all her students thought Judas was black, because we'd all grown up with "Jesus Christ Superstar" and Anderson's riveting and still-underrated performance. (I'm sure Mel Gibson would not have liked the ultra-liberal Catholic parish I grew up in, with its folk-rock liturgies and a congregation in bluejeans singing Cat Stevens's "Morning Has Broken," and, every Palm Sunday, "Hosanna" from "Superstar" instead of more traditional Mass hosannas.)

The idea of our soul-brother Judas bothered Sister Joan Mary, I guess, because we were all white, and she didn't want us to unnecessarily equate the black guy with the dude who sold out Jesus. But what also came out that day is that we thought Judas was kind of cool. So Sister told us to >get our paperback New American Bibles (which had psychedelic lettering on the covers), and we went over the Gospels again.

Anderson was born in Lynchburg, Va., one of 12 children, and sang in the school choir. While going to Howard University, he joined a rock band called Second Eagle, which had taken to performing songs from a new concept album, "Jesus Christ Superstar." Producers of the upcoming Broadway production tried unsuccessfully to stop Anderson's band from performing the songs at a Washington church on Palm Sunday. Impressed by his voice, they wound up casting Anderson in 1971 as an understudy to Ben Vereen, who got the part of Judas. Eventually, Anderson took over the role. And never really stopped. Although he got other roles on stage and screen, and had a couple of hit R&B ballads of his own, Anderson kept coming back to the part.

In the fall of 1994, a touring roadshow of "Jesus Christ Superstar" rolled into Albuquerque. I was assigned to interview Anderson, who was then 49, and still tying a rope around his neck and hanging himself onstage every night (and Sunday afternoons). We met in the morning at a classic-rock radio station, where Anderson took calls from listeners who had urgent stories to tell him about what "Superstar" had meant to them. "This show has baggage," Anderson told me.

We were waiting for a limo to come pick him up and take him to the performance hall, but it never came. So I drove Judas to the show. He sat in my car and talked about religion, made a few cell phone calls, and drummed on the dashboard. "Buddha, was he where it's at / Is he where you are?" Anderson sang, from the hit single "Superstar." "Could Mohammed move a mountain/ Or was that just PR?" I told him that was one of the records I wore out as a child. (The movie version, I emphasized, not the original cast recording, which seemed to please him.) "There was a time, when I was younger and playing Judas, that I considered it a steppingstone to becoming a big star," Anderson said that day. "I never took time to enjoy it back then. Now it's a part of me. If I go down as the guy who was Judas . . . okay, then. That's fine."

He was always encouraging people in the audience to come backstage. At the end of every performance of "Jesus Christ Superstar," there were teary-eyed fans who desperately needed to talk to Jesus.

But just as many of them had a powerful need to meet Judas, too.

Copyright 2004, The Washington Post Co. All Rights Reserved.



A link to a very interesting article/interview Carl gave in 1994, when the AD Anniversary Tour was performing at Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque, New Mexico - posted on

Albuquerque (New Mexico)

September 23, 1994

Jesus Christ Wherewithal

Deeper meanings behind the $62 million resurrection of the ancient rock opera

Story by Hank Stuever

There's this woman who follows the show from city to city, like some Superstar Deadhead, only you need to know that the cast and crew are a little spooked by her devotion, especially when she follows them to dinner at restaurants or shows up at the hotel with a camera and starts snapping away. Other times she insists she's been hired to join the production staff. "She's nuts", says the tour's publicist, who half expects the woman to show up at Popejoy Hall any minute now.

Then there's the reporter who broke down and cried when she met Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson backstage at "Jesus Christ Superstar" in Salt Lake City. It turns out her father died when she was a little girl and her mother took all the kids to see "Jesus Christ Superstar," the 1973 movie version starring Neeley as Jesus and Anderson as Judas, three times a day for several weeks.

"Three times a day, this show has baggage," Carl Anderson says, with awe. "The first thing, when she met us, she lost all professionalism and just hugged us. I say she was un-professional, but I don't mean it was a bad thing. She waited 20 years to meet us and thank us. I get that 10 times a day. At least. People come up to me and say 'Thank you' for something that happened 22 years ago."

We're sitting in a studio at KLSK-FM, the classic rock station, where Anderson and two other cast members are appearing on the morning show to promote "Superstar". Listeners are calling in to beg for tickets. The deejay says more people want "Superstar" tickets than, for example, the time the station gave away Crosby, Stills, and Nash tickets. One guy calls in to tell Anderson how he saw the touring production at Popejoy in 1972, a few days before he went to Vietnam. "Now I rent the movie for my family every Lent," the caller says. "It's become a family tradition."

"Thanks for calling, man, come see the show," Anderson says.

"We'll be there Thursday night," the man says.

"Come backstage and meet us, then. OK?" Anderson says.

There's more:  Consider the kooks, like the one-man protest movement who picketed the show every night in Phoenix. Or the member of the Historic Baptist Berea Church in Bloomfield who fired this angry missive to the management of Popejoy Hall: "We aren't at all interested in supporting a coven of faggots and lesbians who blaspheme the sinless Lord of Glory! Please remove our name from your mailing list."

Or all the people who come to the backstage door every night after curtain call, when Neeley takes his final bows in a robe so Clorox miracle white it's like he's not really from here:  Those piercing eyes framed by a sad, soft brow, the scraggly beard with a strand here and there of gray, the Texas twang that becomes a sonic scream in the garden of Gethsemane. In the pantheon of hypnotically tragic and cute blue-eyed movie Jesuses, Neeley still has it. The people come backstage and want to meet him, touch him, talk to him. They have problems, or questions, or tears, and he listens. Up close, he's small, diminutive, shy. Sometimes Ted Neeley will talk to them for hours, outside even, when the security guards have locked up the theater.

"These are the people," Carl Anderson notes, "who need to talk to Jesus. If you know what I mean."

"After all, I've tried for three years/ Seems like thirty; seems like thirty...."

It begins with the "brown album", so named for its plain, chocolate-colored jacket, the original Decca recording with Murray Head as Judas and Ian Gillan as Christ, written and produced in London by two freaks named Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice and released in the states in 1970, eventually selling 2 1/2 million copies, a mere 18 months after Time magazine declared "God is Dead" on its cover. The brown album is the stuff of cellophane lamps and dorm rooms, sitting in a bean bag chair wearing padded Radio Shack headphones, when the stylus sets down scratchily on the vinyl, side one, side two, side three, side four: "My mind is clearer now...."

You can get it at any flea market, or you can have it on CD. There are a half-dozen versions: the London stage cast, the Broadway recording, the excerpted highlights, the movie version, the 20th anniversary CD. You can rent the movie at the video store, a searingly psychedelic hodgepodge filmed on the deserts of Israel, with Roman soldiers carrying machine guns, disciples in bell-bottoms and army tanks symbolizing temptation. You can hear it in strange places: "Superstar" cover songs by punk rock bands, or toned-down and hymnlike in certain churches, or "I Don't Know How to Love Him" piped in on waiting-room Muzak.

The rock opera, with much of the libretto lifted verbatim from gospel readings of Christ's final days, created a fashionable theology all its own. It is a gritty, depressing, argumentative passion play, which thrived in an age of rebellion. Wouldn't "Jesus Christ Superstar" be passé by now, you find yourself thinking: This hippie thing, this piece of theater that never really was theater so much as a flashy rock concert, a sign of the times? You hear these guys are still out there, still singing those excruciating high notes and wonder, Jesus Christ Geritol?

Carl Anderson is 49.

Ted Neeley turned 51 this week.

Between them, they have died onstage - Anderson from the Judas noose, Neeley on the cross - a couple thousand times. They were young once, unknown singers/actors who got their break when they were cast in the Los Angeles stage production in 1972. They got screen tests for the movie, Anderson recalls, more as a professional courtesy than anything else. The movie had already been unofficially cast with bigger stars.

But they got the parts anyway. Before the L.A. production even opened, Neeley and Anderson were flown to Israel to shoot the film.

"We rehearsed for a stage production we never got to do," Anderson says. "When we started talking about doing the show now, I said that I would only do it with Ted."

A high-tech production was put together in late 1992. Its emphasis would be the singing and the music. The sets and choreography would be understated; the nostalgia value - and the Andrew Lloyd Webber namesake - would be the hook.

"We planned to be on the road a few months," Anderson says. "We just had no idea..."

Now it has been 21 months, with five months to go after Albuquerque. They have made 102 stops, returning to some cities two and three times.

Playing several nights at each stop in 2,000- to 5,000-seat auditoriums, this "Jesus Christ Superstar" has earned $62 million to date, according to industry trades. That puts it, for comparison, a mere notch below Guns n' Roses and Janet Jackson on the list of highest-grossing concert tours last year.

So something is still there.

"It still gets people to stop and think about it all," Anderson says.

He is sitting in the front seat of my car (the limousine is late picking him up from KLSK, and show-business people detest waiting for courtesy) and we are talking about God. For 49, Anderson has the hyper energy of a teen-ager. He sings spontaneously, drums on the dashboard, interrupts himself to make a call on his pocket phone.

Since "Jesus Christ Superstar", the movie, was released, Anderson has had the most visible career. He has recorded eight R&B albums, (a new one, "Heavy Weather, Sunlight Again", is just out from GRP Records) and had a No. 1 ballad, "Friends and Lovers", in 1986. Neeley has written and performed in various theater productions, and eventually moved back home to Houston. It is likely the two will always be Judas and Jesus, forever typecast in the Greatest Story Ever Told, whether on stage or in cultural consciousness.

That's OK with Anderson: "There was a time, when I was younger and playing Judas, that I considered it a stepping stone to becoming a big star. I never took time to enjoy it back then. Now it's a part of me. If I go down as the guy who was Judas...OK, then. That's fine."

He belongs to a church in L.A. called Science of Mind. It's full of people in the Industry, he says, who first congregated in hotel ballrooms and later built a church of their own. They believe in God, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, among others. They emphasize the power of positive thinking. "The way it worked, see, God sent Jesus, but there were no airplanes. So Jesus couldn't fly to Japan. That's why God put people all over the world to tell people what was happening..."

The publicist, Ann Rippey, is riding in the back seat of the car. She worries aloud that Anderson may have been too emphatic on the air back at KLSK, when asked about the handful of fundamentalist Christian groups who still protest "Superstar" as heretical. Anderson launched into a brief tirade about how, "If Jesus were alive today, he would not even be a Christian."

She worries about damage control. Anderson worries about ignorance. "I'll bet you a dime to a doughnut that the people who complain about the piece have never even seen it," he says.

"If you knew all that I knew/ My poor Jerusalem/ You'd see the truth, but you close your eyes/ But you close your eyes...."

From a letter dated Sept. 1 and addressed to Paul Suozzi, Popejoy Hall's marketing director, from Larry D. Cox, pastor, East Mountain Assembly of God in Edgewood:

"From the stand point of our congregation, ('Jesus Christ Superstar') is an attack upon the foundational beliefs of the Christian faith and the basis for our society....We will be in opposition by every means possible, from announcements in our congregation, and through our community by word of mouth and other means....Your reconsideration of this event is highly advisable and requested with the utmost regard. Thank you for your help. In His Service...."

"Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ/ Who are you, what have you sacrificed?/ Jesus Christ, Superstar/ Do you think you're what they say you are?"

The union guys have spent all day unloading the semi-trailers and assembling the black metal "Superstar" set. The band has run through its sound checks. The cast members have checked their microphones.

Carl Anderson is in his dressing room backstage, where he has unloaded his wardrobe locker and set out pictures of his wife and teen-age son. He has lighted a ceramic candle and a bowl of patchouli. He has lined his many bottles of herbs and vitamins along the makeup table. He has a teapot ready to warm his herbal tea. He puts several drops of high-powered Chinese ginseng under his tongue. His Sony boombox plays jazz. He begins singing along to the music and his powerful voice shakes the fixtures.

The cast and crew mingle about the cluttered green room, hugging each other and jumping up and down, a family that prays together stays together, checking sign-up sheets for hotel accommodations in Nashville and Washington, D.C., the tour's next two stops.

Jesus is not here yet.

Tonight - opening night - is his 51st birthday. He is coming down with bronchitis. The cast says Ted Neeley never takes a day off. The publicity people wonder if an announcement should be made to tonight's audience that Mr. Neeley is feeling under the weather so the audience will be forgivingly aware if he misses a note or two.

Carl Anderson frowns at the suggestion. "They'll never know. Ted will go out there and do it and they'll never know."

In Neeley's darkened dressing room, now just 25 minutes to curtain, his three Jesus tunics hang sublimely on a rack. A worn pair of leather sandals sit on the tile floor below. The cast strung Happy Birthday crepe paper across the room. They left him cards and presents: a grocery store Jesus candle. The publicist has fetched Neeley's requisite tequila for the evening. Carl Anderson bought him two bottles of expensive wine, a picnic basket, a piece of Santa Clara pueblo pottery and tickets to the Eagles concert in Nashville next week, begging him to take a night off, with a note satirizing a line from the show:

"On Wednesday night/ In Nashville/ I don't wanna see your ass/ In Jerusalem."

Anderson, being interviewed by a television reporter, is asked if he and Neeley can play these parts forever. Out in the house, the band is warming up with "Superstar", Judas's signature number.

"No, I can't," he says. A tear falls down his cheek and he weeps. He says he would like to be considered for a Broadway revival of the show, if that ever happens. "Every night I can't wait to go out there and do it. That's my song....I could listen to it forever, but I can't do it forever."

Neeley shows up at 8, with 15 minutes to spare, as calm and serene as Anderson is bouncing off the walls. He takes off his wire-rim glasses and begins to put on his mesh garments and tunic. He puts flesh-colored bandages over his fingers to hide his rings. He spritzes his long Jesus hair with a spray. Anderson is dying to show Neeley the bathroom, where cast members have wrapped the Happy Birthday crepe paper around the toilet paper.

Neeley laughs and holds out his hands toward the sight gag, then clasps his hands together, and smiles that smile, a gesture that reminds me of what, a priest, the pope on the balcony? The Dalai Lama? Oh no, of course: Jesus in "Jesus Christ Superstar".

Carl and Ted, Judas and Jesus. Twenty-two years. A show, and something more. When the tour is over, they'll call each other up a couple of times a year. They've stayed friends.

"I always hear from Ted when the Redskins play the Cowboys," Anderson says. "The Redskins are my team. And Ted is crazy about the Cowboys."

The two men share a private moment together before the lights go down. Neeley always whispers a one-word cue to Anderson before they go on. It is their word for the show.

The word tonight is "birth".

And two hours later - after the lights and sound and spectacle of another "Superstar", after a standing ovation, and a birthday cake for Neeley at the curtain call, with the audience singing "Happy birthday, dear Jesus, happy birthday to you" - the cast and crew steal away to the Monte Vista Fire Station for a private party. Jesus doesn't meet the people tonight. He must rest his voice.

Some of the people mill about in the parking lot for awhile anyway, not unlike church members after a particularly rousing service. There is a palatable level of nostalgia in their conversations, scratchy LPs and embraceable beliefs. These are the people who don't turn out for theater so much. They seem to be here for other reasons. After so many years, there still is, to quote the show, talk of God.


I'm So Sorry

I was sorry to learn
of your loss,
And I Wanted to express
My deepest sympathies.

Not one of us
Knows where our road
Will lead us or where
Our road ends.
But in times of
Sorrow, we receive
Comfort from our friends.

If there is anything
I can do for you
Anything at all...
I'll be here for you;
Always your friend.

My deepest sympathies
To you and your family.

May God Bless You 
and comfort you in your hour of grief.

Swan Lake Applet/Picture courtesy of Adventureland Travel:
Poem courtesy of



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