Tribute to Adam Faith - June 1940 to March 2003.
Actor and pop star Adam Faith, who passed away on Saturday 8th March 2003 from a heart attack at the age of 62 had a hugely successful and varied career as a singer, actor and businessman.
Born Terry Nelhams in Shephards Bush, West London, in June 1940, the third of five children he grew up on a council estate, left school at 15 to work as a messenger at Rank Screen Services. He turned down the chance to work as a clapper boy at Pinewood Studios and instead joined a company called TeleVision Advertising, who were making commercials for the infant ITV company. After just six months he was promoted to Assistant Film Editor and also in 1956, like so many teenagers at that time, formed his own skiffle group with his friends. Calling themselves The Worried Men they managed to get themselves a number of gigs, one of which was playing in Soho, where Terry was spotted by television producer Jack Good - producer of the hit BBC pop music show '6-5 Special'.
Two appearance on '6-5 Special' in 1958 led to an offer by EMI to cut two singles, however, neither made any impact on the charts and Terry returned to the day job. He then became a sound engineer dubbing such shows as 'William Tell' and 'The Invisible Man' and in 1959, got a call from musician John Barry with an offer to appear on a BBC pop show called 'Drumbeat'. This led to another recording, this time for the Top Rank label, but it too proved to be a non-seller. However, success wasn't too far away, and in the autumn of that year John Barry introduced Terry to songwriter Johnny Worth who wrote a song for him called 'What Do You Want?' The single entered the charts and climbed straight to Number 1.
Terry adopted the stage name Adam Faith and during the 1960s became one of Britain's top three pop stars alongside Cliff Richard and Billy Fury, with chart hits including 'What Do You Want?' and the follow-up, 'Poor Me'. By 1967 Faith had amassed a small fortune in property but it was round this time that his musical career began to flounder. His last hit single had been in 1966 when 'Cherylís Goin' Home' peaked at No 46. However, none of his 1967 releases broke into the charts, and his final release of the sixties, in 1968, also failed to make any impact. Undeterred, Adam moved into acting making his stage debut opposite Dame Sybil Thorndike in the Emlyn Williams play 'Night Must Fall'. The play, and in particular, Adam, got good revues and he decided to give up his singing career and moved into repertory theatre.
In the 70s he starred in the classic television series 'Budgie', written by Keith Waterhouse. But Faith went into semi-retirement for almost a year in 1973 after he was seriously injured in a car crash, in which he almost lost a leg. He made his acting comeback in 1975 as a rock star manager in the film 'Stardust'. That same year he returned to the recording studio to make a new album which, although critically acclaimed, was a financial failure. Then in the early 80s he moved away from the world of showbiz to become a financial investments advisor. In 1986, he had open heart surgery after being found to have seriously blocked arteries. Faith then took up financial journalism, with a regular column for the Daily Mail and then the Mail on Sunday.
In 1991 he returned to theatre work and starred alongside Zoe Wannamaker in the TV series 'Love Hurts'. In 1999 he was behind the development of digital television's The Money Channel. But the venture soon ran into difficulties, the channel closed down and Faith was declared bankrupt in 2002, reportedly losing £32m. But Faith returned yet again as his friend David Courtney observed: "Anything he took up he would perfect at. He would use it as a challenge and then he would tend to drop it and move on to the next - from learning to fly a helicopter to karate to whatever he would take up - he would perfect it and then move on. And he was really on a very big up going back into acting on stage and it was a new chapter in his life."
Faith had been staying at a hotel in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, where he was starring in the Regent Theatre's 'Love and Marriage'. He was taken ill at the hotel after Friday's performance and was rushed to hospital, but doctors fought in vain to resuscitate him.
Faith, who lived in Tudeley in Kent, left a wife, Jackie, and daughter Katya, aged 32. Paying tribute, his agent Alan Field said: "Terry, or Tel, as we called him was one of the best communicators that I ever knew. It could be a taxi driver in the street or a member of royalty - he was able to communicate with everybody at every level and he was respected and loved by them all. He came through in the pioneering days of pop music and he really was a big icon along with Cliff Richard - they were the first wave of the British version of the pop music world."
Alan Yentob, the director of drama, entertainment and children's programmes at the BBC, where Faith worked throughout his career, said: "Adam was a hugely likeable man, always exuberant and a very dapper all-rounder. The TV pantheon will surely find a place for 'Budgie', and for his many funny, moving performances as Frank Carver in 'Love Hurts'. Friend and former BBC Radio 1 DJ Tony Blackburn described Faith as a kind and genuine person. "There was no ego there. He was always very, very kind and he would always come over and he was the most friendly person I think I have ever known."
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