Andrew Lloyd Webber Opens Up About Mental Health Struggles

By David Konow 02/20/18

The musical icon details his long-time battle with depression and suicidal ideation in his new memoir, "Unmasked."

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Andrew Lloyd Webber is the creator of many of the longest running musicals in history including Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, and Phantom of the Opera. But behind his talent and success, Webber struggled with depression, and as he reveals in his new autobiography, Unmasked, he contemplated suicide several times throughout his life.

As The Independent reports, Webber first struggled with depression when he was growing up and feared that he wouldn’t be successful. “It’s something that possibly affects artists,” he says. “It was one of those moments where I thought everything had got on top of me. These things are illogical.”

The Mirror reports that Webber nearly ended his life twice when he was a boy. On one occasion, he pilfered pills from his parents, then got more from some local pharmacists, and was going to end his life after taking a ride on the London Underground. “I felt very alone at the time,” he continues. “It was pretty much at the end of the line, quite literally because I went to the end of the Central Line, but then took a bus to Lavenham.”

But once the train reached Suffolk, his depression lifted enough that he decided to brave it out and head back home. As he told The Daily Mail, “It sorted me out, and I simply got on the train back.”

Webber also attempted suicide in the '60s, by overdosing on aspirin. “I woke to find a doctor’s face pressed close to mine, demanding what the hell I was doing frightening my parents like this.”

In recent years, Webber would struggle with suicidal thoughts again when he was dealing with prostate cancer. “It was absolute agony and utterly despairing,” he said. “I did think of suicide. It was so painful and I couldn’t sleep and you go on thinking about it. You have all those ridiculous painkillers and none of them [are] working and you just think, ‘I shall take the whole lot of them.’”

After recovering from prostate cancer, Webber also curtailed his drinking, and has reportedly been sober for the last four years. 

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.