Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber is good at a great many things: Writing gorgeous melodies, selecting odd subject matter for musicals, and providing fodder for Paul F. Tompkins’ impressions. But despite having judged several reality TV talent competitions, Webber’s eye for spotting future stars isn’t entirely fine-tuned. The famed composer stopped by the British morning show Good Morning Britain to promote the West End run of his musical adaptation of School Of Rock. And one of the fun factoids he revealed is that he failed to discover Rihanna twelve years ago.
Webber claims he saw the future pop star singing with “a sort of karaoke band” at the luxury Sandy Lane hotel in Barbados. He remarked to his creative partner Nigel Wright that the 16-year-old singer was “very, very good.” But as Webber goes on to explain wistfully, “I said to Nigel, ‘if we bring her back it’s like when you see a picture when you’re away and you take it home and you think, why did I buy that?’ I thought: we’ll get her back, it’ll be fine, but then what do we do with her?”
It’s all meant in a jovial way, with Webber calling his failure to officially discover/manage Rihanna “not a story I’m proud of.” But considering the British literally owned and exploited Barbados for 341 years, maybe comparing 16-year-old Rihanna to a souvenir isn’t quite the best look for an aristocratic British man. Nevertheless, hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid are more than happy to laugh along at Webber’s managerial failure.