Introduction to Adam Faith

From teen idol, actor and singer to businessman and finance journalist

Adam Faith was a British singer, actor and later financial investor and journalist. During his prime, he was a British teen idol particularly in the late 1950s to early 1960s. He was once employed as a film cutter in London but also had dreams of becoming a star. After his early records had flopped he finally hit it big in 1959 with his first #1 single in his native country, “What Do You Want?” thanks to his appearances on the television show Drumbeat that helped increase his popularity.

Other best-performing singles on the UK were “Poor Me” (another #1 hit), “Someone Else’s Baby,” “When Johnny Comes Marching Home/Made You,” “How About That,” “Lonely Pup (In A Christmas Shop),” “Whom Am I,” “The Time Has Come,” “As You Like It,” “Don’t Beat That All,” and “The First Time,” the last being Faith’s last Top 10 UK hit in 1965.

He only had two charting singles in the US, including the Top 40 hit “It’s Alright” which wasn’t even released in his homeland. As an actor, Faith appeared in movies, theater and television programs such as What a Whopper, Never Let Go, No Hiding Place (TV), Beat Girl and Night Must Fall (plays). In the 1980s, Faith started on an altogether different path – a career as a multimillionaire investor and investments advisor as well as a financial journalist writing for the Daily Mail and its sister newspaper the Mail On Sunday. He died in 2003 from a heart attack.

Starting small

British star Adam Faith was born Terence Nelhams-Wright in London, England, on June 23, 1940.

Dreaming of becoming a star, Faith started small in show business, having his first employment as a film cutter in London. At the same time he was also singing in a skiffle group named the Worried Men. He made his first public appearances in London’s SoHo coffee houses, including the legendary 2i’s Coffee Bar.

Nelham’s talent caught the attention of Jack Goode, who was impressed by the singer. Goode arranged a recording contract with HMV label for Nelhams, whom he also gave the young singer the stage moniker of Adam Faith.

Faith released his first singles on HMV, but he saw little chart success. Faith also appeared live on stage via the TV rock and roll program the Six-Five Special, as well as released another single, a cover of “High School Confidential” by Jerry Lee Lewis. But that too failed to make it to the charts.

Success and popularity via the TV program “Drumbeat”

Faith returned to his old job as a film cutter until March 1959 when composer John Barry invited him to audition for the yet-to-be-unveiled rock and roll TV seriesDrumbeat. Barry had previously worked with Faith in his short-lived live stage show on Six-Five Special. Faith’s HMV contract had already expired, and he was signed to another label Top Rank, but his stint there was also unfruitful.

Despite initial failure in his singing career, Faith’s name was otherwise becoming more prominent through his television appearances. Faith was becoming a popular actor, having appeared on television dramas and in the 1960 film Beat Girl. He finally broke through into more success by appearing on the Drumbeat series, where Barry was also the musical director.

Teen idol

Faith’s successful stint on Drumbeat led him to tread into recording career once again, by signing a contract with Parlophone later in 1959. His first single on the label “What Do You Want?” enjoyed a 19-week chart run eventually peaking there at #1. Adam Faith had now become a household name. Thanks to Barry’s imaginative arrangements (especially prominent in Faith’s 1960 debut album Adam), Faith’s name was kept afloat in the UK music scene. Barry’s arrangements were apparently inspired by the pizzicato strings in Buddy Holly’s “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.” It didn’t hurt too, that Faith had good looks that led him to be considered a teen idol.

Since his first successful single, Faith was racking up one hit after another up to 1963, almost all of them homegrown pop smashes. They included “Poor Me” (at #1), “Someone Else’s Baby” (at #2), “When Johnny Comes Marching Home/Made You” (at #5), “How About That!” (at #4), “Lonely Pup (In a Christmas Shop)” (at #4), “Who Am I”/”This Is It!” (at #5), “The Time Has Come” (at #4), “As You Like It” (at 5), “Don’t That Beat All” (at #8), “The First Time” (at #5), as well as other numerous UK Top 20 chart places.

Later career

Because of his fame, Faith was often pitted with another star Cliff Richard as a rival in the British pop music scene. By 1962, his hits began to dry up as beat groups such as the Beatles were taking over the entire British musical scene. Faith tried to keep himself with the Merseybeat sound by releasing decidedly more hard-edged pop single “The First Time” (1963) which he performed with his excellent backing group The Roulettes. “The First Time” was to be Faith’s last top ten single.

Faith managed to benefit from the American audience’s passion towards anything British during that time, via the single “It’s Alright,” which was intended only for US release. It was to be his only US Top 40 hit, peaking at #31 in 1965.

In the 1970s, Faith found a second career as a businessman, building up a successful financial company from which he became a multimillionaire. Faith also became a prominent financial journalist for the newspaper the Daily Mail. He continued to act mostly on television and on stage.

On March 8, 2003, Faith died of a heart attack, the day after he became ill following his performance at the stage production of Love and Marriage, held at Stoke-on-Trent.