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Terence “Terry” Nelhams-Wright, known as Adam Faith (23 June 1940 – 8 March 2003), was a British teen idol, singer, actor, and financial journalist. He was one of the most charted acts of the 1960s. He became the first UK artist to lodge his initial seven hits in the Top 5. He was also one of the first UK acts to record original songs regularly. […]
Faith became one of Britain’s significant early pop stars. At the time, he was distinctive for his hiccupping glottal stops and exaggerated pronunciation. He did not write his own material, and much of his early success was through partnership with songwriters Les Vandyke and John Barry, whose arrangements were inspired by the pizzicato arrangements for Buddy Holly’s “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore“.
Faith began his musical career in 1957, while working as a film cutter in London in the hope of becoming an actor, singing with and managing a skiffle group, the Worried Men. The group played in Soho coffee bars after work, and became the resident band at The 2i’s Coffee Bar, where they appeared on the BBC Television live music programme Six-Five Special. The producer, Jack Good, was impressed by the singer and arranged a solo recording contract with HMV under the name Adam Faith.
His debut record “(Got a) Heartsick Feeling” and “Brother Heartache and Sister Tears“, in January 1958, failed to make the charts. Good gave him a part in the stage show of Six-Five Special, along with the John Barry Seven but the show folded after four performances. His second release later that year was a cover of Jerry Lee Lewis’s “High School Confidential“, backed with the Burt Bacharach and Hal David penned “Country Music Holiday”, but this also failed.
Faith returned to work as a film cutter at National Studios at Elstree until March 1959, when Barry invited him to audition for a BBC TV rock and roll show, Drumbeat. The producer, Stewart Morris, gave him a contract for three shows, extended to the full 22-week run. His contract with HMV had ended, and he sang one track, “I Vibrate“, on a six-track EP released by the Fontana record label. Barry’s manager, Eve Taylor, got him a contract with Top Rank, but his only record there, “Ah, Poor Little Baby“/”Runk Bunk” produced by Tony Hatch, failed to chart due to a lack of publicity caused by a national printing strike.
Despite the failure, Faith was becoming popular through television appearances. He became an actor by taking drama and elocution lessons, and appeared in the film Beat Girl. The script called for Faith to sing songs and as Barry was arranging Faith’s recordings and live Drumbeat material, the film company asked him to write the score. This was the beginning of Barry’s career in film music.
Faith’s success on Drumbeat enabled another recording contract, with Parlophone. His next record in 1959, “What Do You Want?“, written by Les Vandyke and produced by Barry and John Burgess, received good reviews in the NME and other papers, as well as being voted a hit on Juke Box Jury. This became his first number one hit in the UK Singles Chart, and his pronunciation of the word ‘baby’ as ‘bay-beh’ became a catchphrase.
“What Do You Want?” was the first number one hit for Parlophone, Faith the only pop act on the label.
With songs like “Poor Me” (another chart topper), “Someone Else’s Baby” (a UK No. 2) and “Don’t That Beat All“, he established himself as a rival to Cliff Richard in British popular music. […]
In 1974, Adam Faith delivered “I Survive”, a kind-of comeback album featuring Paul McCartney on four tracks.
Last updated on August 11, 2015