Adam Faith!

This person was a teen idol, Pop Star, singer and songwriter.  The problem was that it was late 50’s and early 60’s and he was in England and not much came across the Atlantic to North America.  I was not a huge fan, but one song in 1965 demonstrated that this artist had power as a true Rocker.  I do like the song.  He had a very successful and turbulent life.

adam-faith Adam Faith 312044

Adam Faith

Video:  Shindig  – It’s Alright 1965/The Isley Brothers and Newbeats sing backup.


It’s Alright/ Amy 913/ February 1965/ #31

The late ’50s in England saw a legion of young teen idols, groomed for music stardom by managers eager to see their clients land a chart hit or two on their way to careers as all-around entertainers, or even television or movie actors.

A few of them, like Cliff Richard and Billy Fury, were genuinely exciting Rock & Rollers when they started out, although most were just playing at Rock & Roll, and lacked the talent to make much lasting impact in any area of entertainment. Adam Faith was one of the better ones, a late-’50s/early-’60s singing star who went on to a respectable acting career in television, movies and theater.

Born Terence Nelhams in Acton, West London, he made his first appearances in public at the legendary 21’s coffee bar in London’s Soho.

Adam came to the attention of producer Jack Goode, which, in turn, introduced him to band leader John Barry (the music director of Goode’s music showcase series Oh Boy! and the music director of the Drumbeat series), which resulted in the invitation to audition for a role in Drumbeat.

Faith first emerged on the music scene on the Top Rank and HMV labels, but he saw little chart success until Drumbeat came along in 1959.

Faith became an immediate star, with his matinee-idol looks and charismatic screen presence. He was signed to EMI’s Parlophone label soon after he began work on Drumbeat.

In November of 1959, he cut the single “What Do You Want,” which soared to #1 on the British charts in the course of a 19-week run.

With a pleasing, upbeat arrangement built around pizzicato strings and a sort of peppy variation of Elvis’ scowling, mumbling demeanor, Faith’s career at this point was closer to teen pop than rock & roll, although his stuff is eminently listenable.

His next single, “Poor Me,” was a better song and also reached #1, while his third, “Somebody Else’s Baby,” got to #2.

Although hardly cutting-edge rock & roll (and one has to ignore singles like “When Johnny Comes Marching Home“), it was all pleasant, rather reminiscent of Buddy Holly songs like “True Love Ways.”

The best of his singles was the John Barry co-authored “Made You,” which owes a bit to songs like “Nervous Breakdown” — it also showed what Faith could do with a real, straight-ahead rock & roll number.

He placed six songs in the Top Ten during 1960, and three more in 1961. His string of major hits was pretty much exhausted by the summer of 1962, just before the Beatles and the other Liverpool bands came along and changed the entire musical landscape

But Adam made one more run into the Top Ten in late 1963 with “The First Time.” Listening to this stuff, it’s easy to understand why acts like the Beatles, not to mention ballsier, older rock & rollers from Liverpool like Tony Sheridan and the Big Three held performers like Adam Faith in such contempt — he could be lethally “cute” on novelty songs like “Lonely Pup (In a Christmas Shop),” a number four single over Christmas of 1960, and had no compunction about it.

Despite his shortcomings as a rock & roller, Faith left the post-Beatles era with one major gift in the form of his superb backing band, the Roulettes — featuring future Argent members Russ Ballard and Bob Henrit — who recorded some of the best music of the early British Invasion era.

Beginning in 1963, the Roulettes had a separate recording and performing career as well, including a series of superb recordings for EMI (available on BGO Records). Their records with Faith were also exceptionally good, and were among the last of his major hits.

In 1965, Faith released his last new album, the concert recording Faith Alive, featuring him and the Roulettes, a surprisingly exciting and un-retouched account of their work on stage together.

Faith’s handful of early film appearances generally enhanced his musical image, most notably Beat Girl (1961), a fairly gritty British delinquency drama.

He turned increasingly to acting on the stage during this period, and by the 1970s Faith had moved on to a career in business, with a successful finance company and a directorship of the Savoy Hotel.

He returned to repertory theater work in the 1970s and created the title role of the series Budgie, which he later brought to the stage.

Faith also resumed his film career, most notably with a major supporting role in the 1975 Michael Apted movie Stardust, starring David Essex, the Roger Daltrey starring vehicle McVicar (1980), and the television version of Murder on the Orient Express (1985).

He also went into music management during the 1970s, and the most important of his clients was Leo Sayer.

He married Jackie Irving in 1967 and they had one daughter Katya Faith who became a television producer. In 1986, he was hired as a financial journalist, by the Daily Mail and its sister paper The Mail on Sunday.

In 1985, he appeared on a BBC Radio 2 tribute programme to James Dean, written and presented by Terence Pettigrew. You’re Tearing Me Apart was aired on the 30th anniversary of Dean’s death. Dean had been his idol, and the film Rebel Without a Cause had inspired the teenage Faith to become a singer and actor. “That movie changed my life”, he admitted on the programme. In 1986, Faith had open heart surgery.

In the 1980s, Faith became a financial investments adviser. He had a financial involvement with television’s ‘Money Channel’. But the channel proved unsuccessful and closed in 2001. Faith was declared bankrupt owing a reported £32 million.

He also advised and invested monies for Michael Winner via Sir Nicholas Goodison and also with Roger Levitt’s financial group. However, both these investments lost money.

He became ill after his stage performance in the touring production of Love And Marriage at Stoke-on-Trent on the Friday evening, and died at North StaffordshireHospital of a heart attack early on Saturday, 8 March 2003.

British tabloid newspapers reported his last words as “Channel Five is all shit, isn’t it? Christ, the crap they put on there. It’s a waste of space”. Although it is not certain these were his words, it has become an urban myth.



4 responses to “Adam Faith!

  1. Hi guys,

    I thought that this is a very good assessment of Adam Faith. He never figured high in my estimation as a rocker. A rocker, for sure, he was not!

    In the late 50’s and early 60’s Adam (Terry) lived a short distance from me and we used to attend gigs at the Walton Playhouse where he appeared with his band many times. I think it fair to say that he was OK, but not more than that to us rockers, and I do understand the problems that Lennon and comrades had with him. He had a squeaky clean image that just didn’t fit for us. He was also rather shy which seemed a bit odd considering the business he was attempting to break into. He did shake this however, and in later years was almost hyper-confident.

    He had phenomenal record success in the UK and was a fave of the girlies and their mags – much to the chagrin of their boyfriends!

    Jack Good promoted him heavily and there were some successful tours with him headlining – but they were strictly pop affairs and of no interest to us! Jack also featured him in his TV shows, as you mention.

    He was very hot to trot and was popular on the celeb circuit. On 15th April 1961 I saw him at the Slough Adelphi Theatre when he came to pay homage to Gene Vincent and Brenda Lee who were on stage there that night. This was a significant day for us Vincent fans as it was the day that Gene “proposed” to Margie Russell and there was a massive post-show party afterwards. Adam turned up in his brand new Rolls Royce and to my horror, I saw it later having been “keyed” by mindless twats whilst it was parked outside the theatre. You may well not like a performer but surely what had his car done? Adam was broken hearted, I can tell you.

    In the mid-60’s Adam was managed by Arthur Howes and a big package tour was organised in association with Don Arden. It was classic mismatching of artists as the co-head was Gene Vincent. At the shows I saw during the tour, the audience delivered the bird to Adam and at some venues the running order was changed as, at that time, nobody could close a show after Gene Vincent’s act! This was so at the show I saw at Kingston and I attach a copy of the front, reverse, and running order pages of the program for your interest.

    Adam was to become acceptable later on as he went big time into acting. He favoured part was that of a run down, reforming tearaway – Budgie – in a TV series of the same name. He was excellent in it and for him it must be considered his seminal period.

    “All round entertainer” YES, “Rocker” NO.

    Nice article guys. Keep ’em coming.

  2. PS Just noticed I cannot post the pages I referred to above. Sorry.

  3. Here’s an attempt at showing Adrian’s Program page (re. his comment)

  4. Pingback: One Hit Wonders / 1965 | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

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