Obituary copyright Times Newspapers 2003
talks about his start in the business.
of Britain’s original pop idols, Adam Faith, who went on to boom
and crash in half a dozen other careers, died early yesterday from
a heart attack hours after taking his final curtain in a stage
play. He was 62.
In a rollercoaster life Faith
made a fortune as a pop singer in the early 1960s, when only Cliff
Richard sold more records, and then again as a share tipster in
Margaret Thatcher’s Britain.
At one stage he had a permanent
table at the Savoy hotel where he conducted his business. But he
lost a fortune at Lloyd’s, the London insurance market, and
another with the collapse of Faith, his financial management
company. A further £32m went down the drain when the Money
Channel, his digital television station, was shut down.
He had survived a car crash, a
helicopter accident and major heart surgery. But he fell ill in a
hotel room in Stoke-on-Trent on Friday night after starring in a
production of Love and Marriage.
He was taken to hospital where
doctors were unable to resuscitate him. He was pronounced dead at
2am yesterday. His wife Jackie, who was on holiday in Spain with
the wife of Frankie Ifield, another 1960s “heart throb”, flew
home on receiving the news.
Born Terence Nelhams during the
blitz, he grew up in a three-bedroom council flat in Acton, west
London, with his coach-driving father, office cleaner mother, four
brothers, a sister and a grandmother.
He left school at 15 and started
work as a messenger in a film laboratory. He was singing with
skiffle groups in Soho coffee bars in the evenings when he was
spotted by Jack Good, the producer of 6.5 Special, a television
A 5ft 5Åin “pocket dynamo”,
Faith first topped the charts at the age of 19 with What Do You
Want? By 1966 he had spent more than 250 weeks in the charts but
then the success of the Beatles and the advent of guitar-based
rock made him unfashionable.
Jess Conrad, one of Faith’s pop
rivals, said the singer was always well equipped to move on to a
life of wheeler-dealing: “He once heard a demo I had recorded of
a song called As You Like It and talked me out of releasing it so
that he could record it instead. He paid me £25, which was a
week’s wages for my drummer. Of course, it went on to be a big
Hal Carter, who managed Marty
Wilde, one of Faith’s contemporaries, said: “When other pop
singers were doing the playboy bit, Adam was buying properties.
“He was being shown around one
house, told the estate agent that he would take it and stayed
behind to measure the rooms. Somebody else came to the house, said
they loved it and offered to buy it. Adam did the deal, buying the
house and reselling it to this man without ever moving in — and
making a handsome profit.”
In 1967 Faith married Jackie
Irving, a dancer, and they moved into a Chelsea home complete with
a fountain that could flow with champagne. The couple lived in
five homes in three years, renovating them and moving on, making
£600,000 profit. They overcame the death of a baby son and
several miscarriages before the birth of their daughter Katya in
His pop career over, Faith turned
to acting, finding new fame in the 1970s as the character Budgie
in a television series of the same name.
He had helped Sandie Shaw, the
bare-footed chanteuse of the Swinging Sixties, to take her first
steps as a professional and now he took on a new role as a pop
impresario, managing Leo Sayer and relaunching the career of
He and his wife also had to
overcome another problem: his unfaithfulness. The most famous
occasion was in the 1980s, when his affair with Chris Evert, the
tennis star, caused the break-up of her marriage to John Lloyd,
the British player.
Faith reinvented himself yet again
as a share tipster and newspaper columnist, and was on first-name
terms with chief executives of top companies.
However, he was duped by the
fraudster Roger Levitt to entice show business clients to
Levitt’s financial services company which crashed in 1990 with
debts of more than £35m.
Faith went back to acting, starring
opposite Zoe Wanamaker in the television series Love Hurts. All
the time he had been dreaming of the return to the big time. It
was not to be. With the collapse of the Money Channel, Faith was
declared bankrupt last October.
Irrepressible, though, he was
planning a comeback tour as a singer when he died. “Adam Faith
is only 42. It’s Terry Nelhams who’s 62,” he said in one of
his last interviews. “I compartmentalise these things because
you want to keep your sanity, don’t you?” Michael Parkinson, a
friend, said: “He had a great enthusiasm for life. I don’t
think he had a wasted moment.”