Terry Nelhams was born in 1940 in Acton, London. He was the third of five children and even as a child had an entrepreneurial spirit. He kept up a series of paper rounds and sold papers from a pitch which enabled him to afford a few luxuries as a twelve year old. When he left school Terry became a messenger for a company that made commercials. Later he progressed to become an assistant film editor and at night he played in a skiffle group called the Worried Men. The group became the resident band at the 2I’s coffee bar in Soho in 1957 and when Jack Good, the producer for the 6-5 Special (BBC), saw Terry he signed him up for the program. Terry became Adam Faith and made two appearances on the show in 1958. Although he was signed by EMI Records and made a couple of singles, produced by Tony Hatch, no commercial success followed so Adam went back to post production work. John Barry remembered Adam from the 6-5 Special and invited him to appear on a new program called Drumbeat. He made such an impression Adam was able to give up his day time job and become a professional singer. Success was elusive at first but when song writer Johnny Worth offered to write for Adam, the next single What Do You Want ? went to No 1 in 1959.
The next release was Poor Me which also made No 1.
'Big Time' / 'Someone Else's Baby', was released while 'Poor Me' was still in the charts but just failed to become Adam’s consecutive number one.
In the pre Beatle era, Adam was regarded as one of the three top British pop stars alongside Cliff Richard and Billy Fury. He toured extensively on the pop show circuit, but in 1961 took the unprecedented action of trying cabaret and also acting. Adam appeared in several films Beat Girl, Never Let Go, What A Whopper and Mix Me A Person.
When his pop star position was challenged with the rise of the Beatles he hired song writer Chris Andrews to write songs in the new style and reorganized his backing band, The Roulettes. In 1965 he was back in the hit parade with The First Time.
Changing musical styles in the late sixties found Adam struggling with his recording career. Adam and the Roulettes came to Australia with John Leyton and toured for 18 days. His last chart entry was Cheryl’s Goin' Home in 1966.
One other claim to fame Adam had was he was reputedly the man to convince Sandie Shaw to sing Puppet on a string. She later regretted the action although after she won the Eurovision song contest and had a number one hit in several countries.
Adam gave up his singing career in 1967 and moved into repertory theatre. In 1970 Adam landed the title role in Keith Waterhouse’s Budgie TV series. Adam played a larrikin cockney, just out of prison, and scraping a living on the edge of the law. His co-star was Scots actor, Iain Cuthbertson, as the scheming villain Charlie Endell who employed Budgie. Budgie became a TV classic.
Despite no longer singing Adam stayed in touch with the music industry and when in 1972 he discovered Leo Sayer (a street busker), he and Dave Cohen (drummer in the Roulettes and later changed his name to David Courtney), became Leo’s manager and record producer.
Adam also produced Roger Daltry’s (The Who) first solo album.
Mid the busiest period of his career Adam survived a horrendous car accident which left him near death. Despite his injuries he fought hard to recover and spend quality time with his family. In 1975, he was offered a major part in a new Michael Apted film called Stardust. The highly-acclaimed film starred David Essex as a rock singer, with Adam Faith as (Mike), his manager.
The film was sequel to That’ll be the day, where the Faith’s character was played by Ringo Starr. In 1978 he was back producing and worked with Lonnie Donegan on a new album. A year later Adam appeared in Yesterday's Hero (which starred Ian McShane) then in 1980, he co-starred with Roger Daltrey in McVicar.
His final film appearance was in Foxes, which had Jodie Foster in the starring role.
Adam changed careers in the 1980s and became a successful financial advisor to the elite but underwent open heart surgery in 1986. After a full recovery he became a financial columnist and continued this well into the nineties. Adam’s acting career was relaunched in 1991, when he landed a plum part as co-star to Zoë Wannamaker in the bitter-sweet TV series Love Hurts.
The series ran for three years. In 2001 Adam was back in a TV sitcom called The House That Jack Built and co starring, Gillian Taylforth. The program ran for one series. His finances suffered a massive setback when a new company he was trying to float went under and Adam was declared a bankrupt after losing millions of pounds. He survived and got work as a radio presenter and actor with plans to get back on the road again. Tragically Adam finally succumbed to his heart problems and died in 2003.
Worth a listen
(Got A) Heartsick Feeling (1958)
What Do You Want?(1959)
Poor Me (1960)
Someone Else's Baby (1960)
Message To Martha (Kentucky Bluebird)(1964)
Giving it all away (1973)
It’s a hard life (1973)
Puppet on a string