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Adam Faith

Adam Faith was born Terence Nelhams in Acton, London in June 1940, and left school wanting to enter the film world.

The desire led him to Rank Screen Services where he started at the very bottom as a messenger boy (he would eventually progress to Assistant Film Editor).

When the Skiffle craze hit England in the 1950s, Terry began to play with some fellow workers in a Skiffle group called The Worried Men, securing a residency at the 2I’s coffee bar in London’s Soho.


During an edition of the show Six-Five Special broadcast live from the 2i’s in 1957, the show’s director Jack Good noted Nelhams and suggested he would succeed better as a solo artist.

The name Adam Faith was chosen from a book of boys (Adam) and girls (Faith) names, and after a solo appearance on Six-Five Special, he was signed to EMI Records.

Two failed single releases saw Faith dropped from the label and temporarily abandoning his musical career to concentrate on film-editing.

A stroke of luck in 1959 saw Faith invited to appear as a regular on a new TV show called Drumbeat, performing mainly covers of popular American hits for the duration of the 22-week run.

His regular appearances on the show brought Faith into contact with John Barry, who was instrumental (no pun intended) in his instant rise to success.

It was Barry’s distinctive orchestration, combined with Faith’s nasal delivery, which took What Do You Want? to the #1 spot on the UK charts in December 1959, providing Parlophone with their first #1. Poor Me was equally effective and Faith had nine more Top Ten hits before the mid-sixties.


April 1960, Faith appeared in his first movie, the controversial (and X Rated) Beat Girl  – which was released in the USA as Wild For Kicks. Faith also sang three songs in the film. His second film (in June) was Never Let Go – a crime thriller starring Richard Todd and Peter Sellers.

Meanwhile, Faith’s debut album, Adam, went to #6 and stayed in the UK Top 20 for 36 weeks.

His movie career continued with success in 1961, with Faith appearing in What A Whopper! – a low budget British comedy about a Loch Ness Monster hoax.

The song The Time Has Come from the movie took him to #4 in November 1961.

By the end of 1962, with 13 consecutive UK Top 20 singles and a handful of movie credits under his belt, Adam released Baby Take A Bow (which reached #22) and opened in pantomime in the title role of Aladdin at the Pavilion in Bournemouth, Dorset.

The onslaught of Merseybeat caused his subsequent releases to suffer a poor chart placing so Faith decided to put together a backing band to provide a hard, beat-group edge to his vocal sound.

The band were called The Roulettes (pictured below) and comprised Russ Ballard (lead guitar), Pete Salt (rhythm guitar), John Rodgers (bass) and Bob Henrit (drums).


By the end of the 60s, Faith had given up live appearances and ceased recording, determined to take up acting full time. From 1967 to 1970 he worked from the bottom-up in repertory theatre around the UK (and a part as Feste in Twelfth Night), progressing to the lead in a touring version of Billy Liar in autumn 1969.

In April 1971, Faith took the title role in the ITV drama series Budgie, playing a constantly-stymied working-class small-time crook and opportunist. The series was a critical and ratings success and continued in 1972.

By 1973 Faith had also discovered (and begun managing) Leo Sayer and had produced the first solo album by Roger Daltrey of The Who.

Unfortunately, a near-fatal car accident took him out of action. Faith hit a tree one night and broke everything on his left side where the engine hit him after coming through the dashboard.

He was in a coma for four days and after a 24 hour period on the operating table, he was patched up enough to spend the next three months confined to a wheelchair.

In February 1974 he began work on Stardust with David Essex. Faith took the rock star’s manager role, played by Ringo Starr in the previous movie, That’ll Be The Day.

After seven years without recording, 1974 also saw the release of an album (I Survive) and two singles which – although rated by the critics – failed to revive his chart career. Faith retired once more to concentrate on acting, management, and production.

He eventually became an increasingly successful financial advisor (through his own Faith Corporation) and in the 80s and early 90s wrote a weekly investment advice column called Faith In The City for a UK newspaper.

From 1992 to 1994, Faith appeared in another hit TV series, Love Hurts co-starring Zoë Wanamaker (pictured below), and in 2002 he also appeared in the BBC series, The House That Jack Built.

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