Born Terence Nelhams-Wright, 23 June 1940, Acton, London, England
Adam Faith was one of the first generation of home-grown British pop stars. His brief career as a pop idol was eclipsed when guitar groups such as the Beatles took over and his style of beat ballad went out of fashion. But he did not disappear from the limelight, reinventing himself several times, as music businessman, financial expert and, in particular, as an actor.
Born Terence Nelhams-Wright in West London, his interest in music was fuelled by the British skiffle craze of 1956-58, spearheaded by Lonnie Donegan. Like Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard, many of Adam's earliest appearances were at the famous 2 I's coffee bar in London's Soho. Soon he came to the attention of legendary rock and roll producer / promotor Jack Good, who advised young Terence to change his name. It was an invitation from John Barry (musical director of Goode's ITV show "Oh Boy!" and of the "Drumbeat" BBC TV series) that resulted in regular appearances on Drumbeat, which became the stepping stone for his success.
Prior to that, Adam had already recorded two singles for HMV in 1958, "(Got A) Heartsick Feeling" and a cover of "High School Confidential", followed in 1959 by a Top Rank single, "Ah, Poor Little Baby"/"Runk Bunk" (originally recorded by Billy 'Crash' Craddock and Thurston Harris respectively). There was no chart success, but things changed after Adam was signed to EMI's Parlophone label in September 1959. His first seven Parlophone singles would all reach the Top 5 in the UK : "What Do You Want" (# 1), "Poor Me" (# 1), "Someone Else's Baby" (# 2), "Made You"/ "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (# 5), "How About That" (# 4), "Lonely Pup" (# 4) and "This Is It"/"Who Am I" (# 5). Typical for these hits was (apart from their short playing time - all under two minutes) the pizzicato accompaniment by John Barry's orchestra, copied from Buddy Holly's "It Doesn't Matter Anymore". Except for "Johnny Comes Marching Home", the songs were all original, most of them written by Johnny Worth, under the pseudonym Les Vandyke. John Burgess did the production, while John Barry took care of the arrangements.
On "Drumbeat", Faith had mostly performed American rock and roll songs, but the Parlophone material was closer to teen pop than to rock and roll. The exception was "Made You" (written by John Barry and Trevor Peacock), which owed a lot to Eddie Cochran's "Somethin' Else" and was the only one of Adam's early hits to feature an instrumental solo (and a brilliant one at that). "Made You" was featured in the sexploitation B-movie "Beat Girl" (1960), Faith's second movie role, after "Never Let Go". He didn't have much of a voice ("a poor man's Buddy Holly"), but his hits with John Barry had a distinctive sound and are among the most inventive British pop records of the early 1960s.
Adam continued to score hits until 1966, though he rarely made the Top 10 again, especially after Beatlemania took off in 1963. The British Invasion in the USA brought Adam only one significant hit, "It's Allright" (# 31, 1965), which was only a B-side in the UK. From 1962 until 1965 he was backed by the Roulettes, a better-than-average group that also had a recording career of their own. Faith continued to record songs by British songwriters (apart from Johnny Worth, Chris Andrews was the main supplier) and only two of his 26 chart entries were covers of American songs : "Message To Martha" (1964, from the Bacharach-David team) and Bob Lind's "Cheryl's Going Home", his chart swan song (1966).
Faith stopped recording in 1968 and retired from singing not long afterwards. In an interview with DISC magazine in June 1959 he had already declared that his real ambition was to become an actor, not a singer. He began to concentrate on acting and would appear in many feature films ("Stardust" and "McVicar" being the best known) and TV series (most notably "Budgie", 1971) until his death. In the 1970s, while playing in the "legitimate" theatre all over the UK, Adam moved on to a very career as a businessman and later also as a financial journalist. He also went into music management during the 1970s, the most important of his clients being Leo Sayer. In 1993 he released a brandnew album, "Midnight Postcards". Adam Faith died of a heart attack in 2003, aged 62.
- Official website (with good biography and discography) :
Book : Adam's autobiography, "Acts of Faith" (hardcover : Bantam, 1996, paperback : Corgi, 1997) is no longer in print.
Dik, November 2012
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