He almost missed out on being cast in Jesus Christ Superstar (1973). After inviting director Norman Jewison to see him in a matinee performance of the Who's "Tommy", he was injured during a show just prior to the one Jewison had bought a ticket to see. He recovered in time for the next show; immediately following this, he drove from Los Angeles to Jewison's hotel in Palm Springs...dressed up as "Jesus Christ." (Norman was leaving for Israel soon thereafter, to shoot the movie.) Not only did Jewison accept his explanation and apology, he gave him the title role in said film.
Made his debut as a camera operator during the filming of one of the more memorable scenes in Jesus Christ Superstar (1973): that in which "Judas Iscariot" is chased down a sand dune by five tanks. (The scene, incidentally, is meant to illustrate the desperation and personal conflict which drove Judas to consult the priests about betraying Jesus.)
On the 2004 special edition DVD release of Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), Neeley joked with Norman Jewison that the tour bus seen in the opening and closing sequences was loaned to the production by Neeley and his rock band. He has since explained that this was only a joke and not an actual factoid at subsequent anniversary screenings of the film, and further elaborated on this in chats with fans on social media.
The "39 Lashes" scene in Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) was so realistic that his mother walked out on it. Mrs. Neeley had never laid a hand on young Ted in an anything-but-affectionate manner, and could not bear the sight of her son being tortured by anyone else...even though she knew it was "play-acted".
For Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), he did an unexpectedly thorough job of reenacting Jesus' bull-in-a-china-shop rampage through the Temple's "unclean" flea-market...so thorough indeed, that director Norman Jewison managed only two takes of this scene before running out of unbroken props. Fortunately, Jewison got everything right within the first two tries.
He met his wife on the set of "Jesus Christ Superstar"; she is one of the dancers in Simon Zealot scene
He was able to play Jesus throughout his career; in 1975, he appeared in a show with both Carl Anderson and Yvonne Elliman reprising their roles. In 1992, Neeley and Anderson appeared in the AD Tour. Originally it was supposed to last a year; instead, it went until 1997, touring for five years and grossing over 100 million dollars.
March 9, 2004 Ted sang the soliloquy Why Must I die? from the Garden of Gethsemane scene in J C Superstar at the memorial service for Carl Anderson (Judas, JCS).
Was friends with Jesus Christ Superstar co-star Carl Anderson.
(1996-) Playing Jesus in the road show of "Jesus Christ Superstar". When completed in a year or so, he will be putting on his own production, "Pandemonium".
Touring as "Jesus" with "Jesus Christ Superstar", Farewell Tour. [February 2007]
Touring U.S. with Jesus Christ Superstar (with James Delisco as Judas), a Nicholas Howey for Troikastar, LLC production. [March 2009]
Touring as Jesus (opposite Corey Glover as Judas) in the National Touring Company of Jesus Christ Superstar. [March 2008]
In the 1980 book "The Golden Turkey Awards" by Harry and Michael Medved, Ted won the award for The Worst Performance by an Actor as Jesus Christ for his role in the film adaptation of "Jesus Christ Superstar".