Adam Faith Biography

Terence Nelhams, 23 June 1940, Acton, London, England, d. 8 March 2003, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England. During the British ‘coffee bar’ pop music phenomenon of the late 50s two artists reigned supreme: Cliff Richard and Adam Faith. While the former has shown astonishing staying power the young Faith had a remarkable run of hit records during the comparatively short time before he retired from singing. In seven years between 1959 and 1966 he made the UK chart 24 times. Both his UK chart-toppers, ‘What Do You Want?’ and ‘Poor Me’ lasted barely two minutes; both featured the infectious pizzicato strings of John Barry’s orchestra, both were written by Les Vandyke (alias Johnny Worth) and both featured the hiccupping delivery with the word, ‘baby’ pronounced ‘bybeee’. ‘Poor Me’ is also notable because the Barry arrangement contains an early glimmer of the ‘James Bond Theme’. This became Faith’s early ‘gimmick’.

Faith’s continued success rivalled that of Cliff Richards, and in a short period of time he appeared in three films, Beat Girl, Never Let Go and What A Whopper!, and made a surprisingly confident appearance in December 1960, being interviewed by John Freeman in a serious BBC television programme, Face To Face. Adults were shocked to find that, during this conversation, this lucid teenager admitted to pre-marital sex and owned up to listening to Sibelius and Dvorak. His career continued until the dawn of the Beatles, when Faith was assigned the Roulettes (featuring a young Russ Ballard). Songwriter Chris Andrews fed the singer with a second wave of infectious beat group hits, most notably ‘The First Time’ and ‘We Are In Love’.

In the mid-60s, appearing outdated in comparison to the glut of exciting pop groups around, Faith gave up singing and went into repertory theatre and in 1971 became an acting star in the UK television series Budgie. He survived a near fatal car crash in 1973 and released I Survive a year later. Additionally Faith produced records for Roger Daltrey and Lonnie Donegan and managed Leo Sayer. His two supporting actor roles in Stardust and McVicar brought him critical success. For a number of years he was a successful financial consultant, although in the 90s he returned to the stage with Budgie andAlfie, and to UK television as Frank Carver in Love Hurts and the situation comedy The House That Jack Built. He became a partner in the ill-fated satellite venture The Money Channel and was bankrupted in 2001. Faith also continued to work on the perimeter of the musical world, even though his final album was in 1993.

While he readily admitted that his vocal range was limited, Faith’s contribution to popular music was significant in so far as he was the first British teenager to confront a hostile world of respectable parents and adults, and demonstrate that pop singers were not all mindless ‘layabouts and boneheads’. In a long and varied career he wrote two autobiographies. He died of a heart attack in March 2003.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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