Adam Faith - a biography
by Geoff Leonard and Pete Walker
In an interview in Disc magazine published in June 1959, following the release of his third (and ultimately unsuccessful single, Adam Faith declared that his ambition was to become an actor/director - not a singer. Nine years, thirty-five singles, twenty-four chart entries, fifteen e.p.s, seven albums later; he finally decided to leave the record industry to concentrate fully on fulfilling his thespian dream. Over the next forty years, Faith was to achieve at least the major part of this long-held ambition by becoming one of Britain's most popular stars of stage and screen.
Adam Faith was born Terry Nelhams in Acton, London on June 23rd 1940, the third of five children. He attended John Perryn secondary modern school, Acton, and from the age of twelve was soon able to demonstrate his entrepreneurial skills by means of a series of paper rounds, which enabled him to finance his own clothes budget. This was augmented further when he started selling papers from a pitch to enable him to pay for more than £100 worth of other 'gear'. This gear included a record player and an impressive bicycle, both costing around £28; a large sum indeed by nineteen-fifties standards. All this was achieved before he left school, at which point he embarked on his first full-time job as an odd-job boy for a silk screen printer close to his home.
After only a few weeks with this company, he heard of a vacancy for a messenger boy at Rank Screen Services and was taken on at the princely sum of £3.50 per week dedicating himself to the task of obtaining a transfer to the studios. However, after a year elapsed without any sign of his move, he left to join a company in Wardour Street, Soho, known as T. V. Advertising Ltd. This was a period when he, like many of his peers, was bitten by the skiffle bug which was then sweeping Britain. His first great idol was Lonnie Donegan who inspired him to form his first group with colleagues from work. They called themselves 'The Worried Men' after one of their most popular numbers, 'Worried Man Blues'. According to Nelhams, they played all the local Soho expresso coffee bars - Mars, The Cat's Whiskers, Orlando's, The Skiffle Cellar and of course the famous Two Is, where they eventually became resident.
Nelhams was soon becoming exhausted, which was not surprising in view of his extra curricular activities. He had been promoted to assistant cutter at T.V. Advertising and not only did he combine evening performances with his day job, but he also decided to take managerial responsibility for the group's affairs. Jack Good's Six-Five Special T.V. programme had a reputation for originality. One idea was to broadcast a show direct from the Two Is. Naturally, as the resident band, The Worried Men opened and closed the programme, valuable exposure, and, ultimately, Nelham's first big break.
Good was impressed with Nelhams' performance but not necessarily with the group as a whole. He invited him back on the show as a solo singer, convinced of his potential as Britain's answer to James Dean. Nelhams, encouraged by this optimism, gave up his job as a film cutter and turned professional. Good not only secured him a recording contract with E.M.l.'s HMV label on the strength of the TV appearance, but also helped him choose the now familiar name, Adam Faith. Faith's debut disc combined '(Got a) Heartsick Feeling ' with 'Brother Heartache & Sister Tears', and was released in January 1958. It received very little publicity either in the form of music press coverage or from EMI's own advertisement department. Not surprisingly it failed to make any impression on the charts. Despite all Good's confidence in him, he failed to make any immediate impression on television either, but gave him another opportunity when he booked him to appear in his stage show version of Six-Five Special. The John Barry Seven were also on the bill and this brief first meeting with Barry was later to prove of vital importance. However, the stage show wasn't the success Good envisaged, and after just four performances, Faith found himself out of work.
Faith, as ever the survivor, swallowed his pride and made the painful decision to abandon his show-biz career by returning to the film cutting world. Despite this, HMV released his second single in December of the same year, a cover of Jerry Lee Lewis' 'High School Confidential', backed with 'Country Music Holiday'. Apart from scant attention in the music press, mainly to the effect that he was covering a Jerry Lee song, it attracted no publicity whatsoever. After a couple of temporary jobs back in the business, he found a job as a cutter at the National Studios at Elstree. It was while he was there he received a phone call from John Barry in March of 1959, inviting him to audition for Drumbeat. This new programme was an attempt by BBC television to counter ATV's popular Oh Boy! show. After sufficiently impressing producer Stewart Morris, he landed an initial contract for three shows which was later extended to the full 22 week run. Drumbeat commenced in April and the following month, Faith, although out of contract with HMV was once again heard on vinyl; performing one track, 'I Vibrate', as part of a six-track E.P. released by the Fontana label. Fontana's publicity claimed this to be a "direct recording from a BBC telecast!"
Fortune once again smiled on Faith when Barry introduced him to his own manager, the redoubtable Eve Taylor. Taylor, whose father was a show-business impresario of some renown, was steeped in the tradition and was herself part of a comedy and tap-dancing act during the thirties. Since becoming an agent she had established a reputation for never accepting anything less than the best for her clients, and many an errant theatre manager had experienced the lash of her biting tongue! She readily agreed to take him on, and immediately set about changing his image and appearance, securing him another recording contract, initially with Top Rank. His only record for them ('Ah, Poor Little Baby'/ 'Runk Bunk') was released on the 6th June, with only the former side benefiting from an arrangement and accompaniment by John Barry. Both sides, incidentally, were produced by Tony Hatch, just prior to his appointment as an A & R manager at Pye/Piccadilly Records. Unfortunately, the record once again failed to attract the pop pundit, but on this occasion Faith was clearly hindered by a total absence of publicity caused by the release date unluckily coinciding with a national printing strike! Despite the failure of his first three records, Faith was becoming very well known and popular through his Drumbeat appearances. Acting still held a sway for him, and in August he announced his intention of taking drama and elocution classes, in order to enhance his acting potential. It was about half-way through the Drumbeat series when Faith attracted the attention of film producer George Willoughby, who was searching for a young pop singer to appear in his new film, 'Beat Girl', then in pre-production stage. Although Faith had little record success up till then, Willoughby was struck by his stage presence and so signed him on the strength of this. The script called for Faith to sing a couple of songs. As Barry was by then arranging not only Faith's recordings but also his live Drumbeat material, it came as no surprise when the film company asked him to write the score to accompany Faith's big screen debut - Barry's own very first steps into the world of film music composing.
His success on Drumbeat enabled Eve Taylor to secure him another recording contract - this with Parlophone. The quest for suitable material to launch the Parlophone debut began in earnest was eventually resolved out of a friendship built up on Drumbeat. A study of the Drumbeat script reveals how Faith had initially concentrated on singing a large proportion of cover versions; the majority up-tempo slices of American rock n' roll. A significant turning point ensued when he asked to perform his own version of the current Cliff Richard hit "Living Doll'. It became apparent to Barry that Faiths delivery was more attractive in a gentler mode, and, as a result of this discovery, decided to concentrate on delivering this kind of material. Nevertheless before this first Parlophone single was issued, Faith made his label debut on the live Drumbeat recorded on the 10th May at Abbey Road, London and released two months later. On this LP the rock n' roll influence remained. Faith sang three numbers - 'Say Mama', 'C'mon Everybody, 'Believe What You Say' - all accompanied by John Barry.
The Drumbeat LP also showcased the performing talents of one Johnny Worth, a member of The Raindrops vocal trio. Worth was to become the final piece in the Parlophone backroom jigsaw that catapulted Faith from contender to champion in the pop market place. Worth, born in Battersea, London, 21st June 1931, began working as a draughtsman prior to his compulsory two years national service. On returning to Civvy Street, he was determined to stay out of office work and make his name as a singer. He decided on pursuing this path after listening to a Johnny Ray record, believing he could imitate Ray as well as anyone could. His first policy decision was to change his name. John Skordalides, he decided, afforded far too many syllables for a business weaned on short, sharp memory-friendly monikers.
His first work as Johnny Worth was as a semi-professional in local pubs before he secured a television appearance. Fortunately, Mrs Rabin, wife of bandleader Oscar, was watching and was impressed enough to mention Johnny to her husband. As a result he was signed to sing with the Rabin band, and remained with them for five years. During this initial learning period he made a number of recordings for Oriole and Columbia before joining The Raindrops. Like many singers, he also aspired towards song-writing although his first three attempts were rejected out of hand by music publishers. However, when Faith, striking up a friendship with him on the Drumbeat set, asked if he had any material suitable for recording, Worth approached JB7 pianist Les Reed to help him arrange a demo of one of these initial songs - 'What Do You Want?'. Barry has always been credited with the idea of using pizzicato strings (inspired by Buddy Holly's "Raining In My Heart'), but according to Worth, this was entirely his own brainchild. Because he was still under contract to Oriole, Worth felt the need to adopt a pseudonym whilst writing songs and so was born Les Vandyke. This was derived by combining Reed's own first name with Worth's London telephone exchange!
Barry was suitably impressed enough with the demo to commence working on an arrangement for the song using that same Buddy Holly influenced pizzicato style. According to Faith, the singing style he adopted for this now legendary recording, was based on coaching he received from Roy Young, another Drumbeat cast member. Having heard Faith rehearsing it during a shared car journey, he made a number of suggestions, in particular persuading him to alter his pronunciation of 'baby' to 'bay-beh'. 'What Do You Want?' (c/w 'From Now Until Forever') was recorded at Abbey Road studios on September 25th 1959 - a mere month after Drumbeat ended. At the same time Faith was also signed to appear in an episode of Rediffusion's No Hiding Place TV series. Norman Newell, Faith and Barry's A & R manager, was unable to produce the recording session. As a result, assistant John Burgess took the helm in his absence, and was to do so for the remainder of Faith's EMI career. According to Barry, on hearing the record, one of EMI's executives publicly declared his disapproval, vowing that Barry would on no account ever be allowed to take part in any more sessions! After the recording Barry admitted that both he and Faith were despondent following previous commercial failures. This time they were determined to impose their own personal tastes far more emphatically than they had done previously, when the flavour of the day tended to override aesthetic considerations.
Despite favourable reviews of 'What Do You Want?', on its 24th October release date in both The New Musical Express and Disc, manager Eve Taylor still insisted that Faith's future lay in acting. Keith Fordyce, writing in the former, praised Barry's arrangement and choice of instrumentation - Jack Good, columnist in its rival, applauded the production, tipping chart success on both sides of the Atlantic. EMI, perhaps scenting success, mounted a strong advertising campaign - promoting the single far more vigorously than either of Faith's first two HMV releases.
In the following issue of Disc, Eve Taylor, recognising good copy when she saw it, claimed Faith had definitely made his last record to concentrate on acting, citing his appearance in a ninety-minute drama for Rediffusion TV at the end of year, as evidence. Despite this, 'What Do You Want?' was given a considerable boost when it was played and voted a unanimous hit on BBC TV's Juke Box Jury, and when Faith sang it live on an edition of ATV's Boy Meets Girl.
On the 14th November, the first tangible sign of chart recognition was apparent when The New Record Mirror's 'British Only' chart listed 'What Do You Want?' as a new entry at number nine. Clearly, interest was growing, to a point when it entered the N.M.E. charts at number eighteen the following week. Adam Faith, singer, had clearly arrived. His mentor, Jack Good, whilst applauding his success, claimed his acting actually improved his singing. He also mentioned that the song was initially rejected by Johnny Kidd, although Worth denied this, maintaining that he had refused permission for Kidd to use it when the singer had wanted to give it a rock n' roll treatment. Another surprise arrived with the revelation that the orchestral backing consisted of just four strings, with two tenor saxes suggesting the sound of a cello.
By December, Faith was number one in the N.M.E. charts. He confessed to being terrified of becoming just another overnight sensation and was therefore determined to continue to develop his acting skills by way of special training at the Royal Court Theatre. He admitted to enjoying Frank Sinatra, 'Peter Gunn', Sibelius' 1st Symphony and playing golf - tastes considered rather esoteric and sophisticated for a typical teenager of the period! At this stage, he still lived at home in Acton with his parents, an older sister, a twin brother & sister - another brother having already married and left the roost.
Any one-hit wonder will tell you of the problems associated with finding an equally memorable follow up. Not surprisingly, the Faith management decided to rely on the Worth/Barry team for inspiration, and this proved a wise move. At the recording session, John Burgess again took charge of production, since Norman Newell was afraid of upsetting a winning formula. On the 15th January, 'Poor Me' was released with WIDYW' still at number two in the charts! Faith had finished recording his Beat Girl songs just three days previously and had signed to appear in another film - Moment Of Truth. The following day, he received a silver disc for 'What Do You Want', awarded for sales of 250,000 and appeared on BBC Radio's Saturday Club, following this with a guest appearance on the Beverley Sister's TV show on 25th January, where he sang 'Poor Me'. This song, another originally rejected by several music publishers in its original incarnation as 'Poor Man', shot to number one in the U.K. charts, despite some criticism from Buddy Holly fans. It was felt by some that Faith and Barry were contriving a backing and singing style that leaned far too heavily on the late lamented singer. The first Faith hit was compared principally to 'It Doesn't Matter Anymore while 'Poor Me' was likened to 'Heartbeat'. Barry certainly never denied the accusation although it is probably fairer to say he adopted rather than copied the sound; an individual sound which itself was soon to be widely imitated throughout the popular music scene.
After the success of 'Poor Me', Faith - the 'reluctant pop-singer - revealed how much he wanted to sustain his chart success! His new film, now retitled Never Let Go, commenced filming on 22nd February and starred Peter Sellers and Richard Todd. With newly acquired wealth generated from two number one singles, he announced his plan to buy a new a new house for his parents and to invest the rest! (a significant move in light of his subsequent financial success). He also revealed that 'Poor Me' took longer to make than WIDYW' and outlined details of his first album project. At this juncture, he signed to embark upon his very first variety tour yet fitted time in to record a couple of tracks for EMI's 'Fings Ain't What They Used To Be' LP - 'Big Time' and 'Carve Up'. His own debut album, Adam, was scheduled to be recorded in March, touring schedule permitting.
On the 18th March, Faith commenced filming location in Shepherd's Bush, while his former record company, Top Rank, re-advertised 'Ah Poor Little Baby' in an attempt to cash in on his popularity. He finally admitted that he did want to combine singing with an acting career, and signed for a twelve week summer season at Blackpool Hippodrome from 24th June. For the duration of the summer season, he was joined by The John Barry Seven, who had their own spot in addition to backing him. They were to accompany Faith on numerous other occasions over the next couple of years and it is worth mentioning their regular line-up during this period: JOHN BARRY / BOBBY CARR (Trumpet), VIC FLICK (Lead Guitar), DOUGIE WRIGHT (Drums), MIKE PETERS (Bass), LES REED (Piano), JIMMY STEAD (Baritone Sax) and DENNIS KING (Tenor Sax).
At a presentation for another silver disc, this time for sales of 'Poor Me', Faith commented at length on John Barry's contribution to his success and didn't, at this stage, envisage making records without him. His third Parlophone 45, 'Big Time' / 'Someone Else's Baby', was released on the 8th April while 'Poor Me' was still at fifteen in the charts, and was advertised as a double 'A' side, in an attempt to demonstrate Faith's versatility. 'Big Time' was an archetypal big band show stopper taken from Lionel Bart's musical, Fings Ain't What They Used To Be. Here was Faith in quite a different guise. The flip, however, owed more to the usual formula, though on this occasion, Faith's enunciation of 'baby' was even more exaggerated. The song was written mainly by Perry Ford, with some help from Johnny Worth, who, at this point, revealed his rather curious way of composing - using an old out-of-tune piano given to him by his father-in-law.
Needless to say, another big hit ensued with Faith just denied his third consecutive number one by the Everly Brothers' 'Cathy's Clown'. It is tempting to speculate that perhaps he would have achieved a notable hat-trick of number ones had it not been for the additional competition, somewhat ironically, from Johnny Worth himself! Not content with the composer royalties from Faith's massive record sales, and with his Oriole contract now at an end, he recorded his own cover versions for one of Oriole's subsidiary labels, Embassy, whose distribution was confined to the huge Woolworth chain. As these records were considerably cheaper than those put out by the majors, and always consisted of two current hits (albeit cover versions) sales were quite respectable.
A mere week after the release of Faith's third single, he appeared on another fresh recording - the soundtrack LP to the film, BEAT GIRL - at a time when the film had yet to surface in the cinema. This attracted more excellent reviews and reached the top ten in the U.K. album charts. Though this was in the main a John Barry instrumental album, three songs were sung by Faith and this fact alone could only have enhanced sales. One of these songs, 'The Beat Girl Song', written by Barry and Trevor Peacock, failed to appear in the film itself. However, another - Made You' - was to form part of the next Faith single released in June.
Directly, prior to this, Faith received the ultimate show-biz accolade when he was invited to perform in the Royal Variety Show on Monday 16th May. It was the first of the series to be televised (on 22nd May) and was presented at the Victoria Palace, London. Faith, dressed completely in white, sang 'What Do You Want' & 'Play it Cool', then changed into top hat and tails for the grand finale. A glance at the review of the show indicates that Faith was the most favourably received on a bill which included Cliff Richard and Lonnie Donegan although the twenty guinea-a-head audience didnt really appreciate the 'teenage spot' in the show.
'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' was recorded on 25th May, with Faith and the JB7 travelling down to London from Shrewsbury to do so. Three days later, Never Let Go was favourably reviewed in the music press, and premiered on 2nd June at the Leicester Square Odeon, London. This, Faith's second film, starred Peter Sellers in a rare villainous role alongside Richard Todd and Elizabeth Sellars. Faith himself, played the part of Tommy Towers - a small-time tearaway. On this occasion, his only musical contribution was to sing "Johnny" over the end titles. Barry adapted the traditional American folk song, while Lionel Bart, oddly, credited under the pseudonym John Maitland, updated the lyrical content. At this point, Beat Girl was still waiting in the queue of X-certificate films to be released.
'Made You' / 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' was released on 17th June, a week after Faith turned down an offer to act in Irish Jade, another George Willoughby production. The first pressing of 'Made You' amounted to a phenomenal 80,000 copies, based on initial enquiries through dealers and was aided and abetted by publicity resulting from Faith's appearance on ITV's Cool For Cats and Saturday Club. Once again, the single was released with Faith's previous record - on this occasion 'Someone Else's Baby' - still firmly entrenched in the top twenty. By now, Faith was also receiving good notices for his concert performances (most notably at the Blackpool Hippodrome), while in the N.M.E.'s June chart survey, he even overtook Cliff Richard! Both sides of the new release made the top ten, despite a BBC airplay ban for 'Made You', on the grounds of exhibiting a lewd and salacious lyric!
On Sunday 14th August the much delayed recording of Adam finally started with Faith and the JB7 travelling down to London from Blackpool overnight. A six-hour session ensued which was repeated the following Sunday. During a discussion after the session, Faith revealed a desire to do a TV and West End play as well as becoming an LP artist, while John Barry announced his intention of toning down the pizzicato effect on Faith's next single. This was released on September 9th, combining 'How About That' with 'With Open Arms'. Apparently, manager Evelyn Taylor jokingly suggested to Worth that he should write a song entitled 'How About That Then?' in recognition of one of her most well-used phrases. Worth duly obliged, more as a joke than anything else, yet didn't tell anyone until he'd finished it. The finished product, shortened to 'How About That', became another huge hit for the team. Barry, commenting on the arrangement said, "Ive used strings and rhythm as before for the main side, but kept the pizzicato down to a minimum." However, the difference was not all that apparent, although the b side, a Burt Bacharach / Hal David composition, featured the distinctive sound of a tuba.
During the following month, Eve Taylor revealed in an interview how impressed she was with Faith's mature outlook towards stardom, ever eager to seek advice. For example, on her suggestion, he readily agreed to work on stage without the John Barry Seven, knowing full well he would not always be able to rely on them. In a music paper poll, How About That' was voted third best disc of the year, behind Apache & Please Don't Tease. Faith himself was voted eighteenth most popular world musical personality, seventh world male singer, third British vocal personality and second British male singer. His success was splendid news for film producer George Willoughby, who was looking for a means of promoting Beat Girl, on the eve of its impending release. Although Faith had a sizeable part in this film he was by no means its star. Nevertheless, Willoughby was able to exploit his pop-star status by selling Beat Girl on his name. It finally opened at the London Pavilion on 28th October, to very mixed reviews, though Faith's own performance and the music were highly commended.
Christmas 1960 was fast approaching and, in keeping with the tradition of the day, Faith went into rehearsals for pantomime, where he was signed to play the bosun's mate in Dick Whittington at Wimbledon. The panto opened on Christmas Eve, and it was there where Faith revealed a desire to widen the scope of film roles offered to him. After playing two rebellious characters he was conscious of becoming typecast.
With the pantomime role in mind, his management team decided to issue a novelty Christmas song with the added advantage of being suitable for inclusion in his singing spot. The session took place, as usual, at Abbey Road on 30th October. For once, Johnny Worth composed neither side. The 'A' side, Lonely Pup, was written by Scottish bandleader Archie Alexander. Freddy Poser of Mills Music explained how this came about: "Archie brought it in to me and wanted a decision on the spot. I liked it so I took a chance and accepted it with Adam in mind When I took it round and showed it to him, Eve Taylor and John Barry, they all flipped for it at once`. The 'B' side, 'Greenfinger', was written by Jack Lewis. True to form, the record again made the top ten, but Barry's arrangement for 'Lonely Pup' was criticised by Nina and more particularly by her singing partner Frederik on the BBC TV programme, Juke Box Jury. When asked to comment on this, Faith said that he felt the duo were out of touch with the current music scene.
The album Adam was released on 4th November to much acclaim - as much for the inventiveness of musical director John Barry's arrangements, as for Faith's own performances. The breadth of chosen material ranged from standards as diverse as 'Summertime', 'Hit The Road To Dreamland' and 'Singin' In The Rain' to more contemporary songs, such as Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman's 'I'm A Man', Johnny Worth's 'Fare Thee Well My Pretty Maid', and Howard Guyton's 'Wonderful Time', all meriting their inclusion on this compilation.
December brought two more significant events in the ever-changing world of Adam Faith. Firstly he bought a Hampton Court house for £6000, where he moved with the rest of his family from the Acton council house. Secondly, he was invited and agreed to appear on BBC TV's controversial yet prestigious Face To Face programme - a major coup this, for Faith. Transmitted live on December 11th, Faith surprised many a viewer by dint of his resolution and alertness in the face of some tough questioning from presenter John Freeman.
Dick Whittington duly opened with the very first performance lasting a marathon three and a half hours culminating in a 25 minute impromptu Concert, during which time he performed most of his hits. He opened with the recent Bob Luman hit, 'Let's Think About Living' and ended with 'Lonely Pup', on which he was joined by children invited from the audience. Johnny Worth specially altered some of the lyrics to fit in with the pantomime's plot. Drawing a spectacular 1960 to a close, Faith and Barry appeared on Christmas Eve's Saturday Club, at a time when both his current E.P. and L.P. were top five in their respective charts.
1961 got off to a fine start when, on the 13th February, Faith received a silver disc for sales of 'Lonely Pup' from Sir Joseph Lockwood. He was also reported to be considering an offer to appear in a film going into production on 30th March entitled On The Fiddle, although nothing transpired of this. January also saw Faith bouncing back after somewhat lack-lustre critical response to Christmas record, with a double 'A' sided Johnny Worth penned effort, 'Who Am I/This Is It',
Don Nicholls, of Disc, writing in the vernacular the day, enjoyed the record: "Who Am I is a very brisk romancer which lilts along brilliantly with strings and chorus backing (the Vernons Girls) directed as always by John Barry. I like the wide open noise of this half. Faith's performance is as good, perhaps better than ever. 'This Is It' is also riding a quick pace with strings a-plucking and chorus ah-ahing in the rear. Tune's a simple one, and the lyric matches. Polished arrangement and performance lift it high. With either half - another hit." Although this review is undeniably couched in the non-critical style evocative of its time, it does, however, clearly illustrate Faith's elevated status in the music industry during 1961. As predicted, both sides climbed into the top ten bringing the Faith/Barry/Worth team to the fore once more. Faith celebrated its success by consulting Sir Gordon Richards about the feasibility of buying a race-horse.
During March, Faith recorded 'Something's Cooking at Shepperton Studios for the soundtrack of the film, The Kitchen. Written by Worth, but this time accompanied by Johnny Dankworth, it was surprisingly overlooked for commercial release; all the more surprising given Faith's considerable fan-base. On 5th March he appeared at the N.M.E poll-winners concert (televised on 25th March by ATV) and on 12th March was the mystery guest on BBC TV's What's My Line. At the concert, he sang 'Wonderful Time', 'Singin' In The Rain', 'What Do You Want?, 'Worried Man', 'Lonesome Traveller', 'Who Am l?' and 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home'.
The release of the next single, 'Easy Going Me' / Wonderin' - on 22nd April 1961, saw Faith renew his acquaintance with Lionel Bart, who wrote the 'A' side. All the characteristic ingredients were evident but, in the midst of some luke-warm reviews, the record only reached number 12. From certain quarters of the music press, criticism was levelled at the arrangement. Faith's records and arrangements were, it was suggested, becoming a little too predictable and formalised. Nevertheless, the record remained in the charts for ten weeks. Faith's new film, What A Whopper, started filming at Pinewood on 23rd May, where, in spite of emphatic denials, he was linked romantically with actress Juliet Mills, following sightings of them out together. On the 23rd June, in celebration of his 21st birthday, Disc presented him with a special E.P. record containing spoken tributes from Barry, Worth, Newell, Taylor, Good & Cliff Richard.
His subsequent single released on 14th July, was clearly a response to the criticism attached to the previous release, for what was noticeable on 'Don't You Know It', was the complete absence of pizzicato strings. Suddenly, here was an Adam Faith 45 that didn't possess the archetypal Faith sound. Experimentation was the key buzzword on this release, one which was dominated by Ted Taylor on clavioline. In truth, the song was simply stylised in the standard pop form of the day in typical 'Runaway' style. Faith couldn't please everyone, however, as some reviewers this time round accused him of being too gimmicky. The flip-side, 'My Last Wish', was the first occasion on which Barry and Johnny Worth combined to write a song. Ultimately, the record made exactly the same progress chart-wise as its predecessor.
Following his 21st birthday, Faith decided to renegotiate contracts originally signed for him by his parents, as he was now no longer a minor in the eyes of the law. He signed a ten year agreement with Eve Taylor, after she persuaded him otherwise - he apparently wanted a much longer term! For his Holiday show - a seven week tour of coastal towns beginning at Southampton on 3rd July - The Red Price Combo provided the backing, as the JB7 were not on the bill. In September, during the same month he started recording his new album (Adam Faith), he embarked upon a new venture, a fortnight in cabaret. Backed by the JB7 rhythm section during a fifty minute set and watched by many celebrities, his debut in this field proved successful despite his misfortune in slipping, then falling over after his opening number on the very first night. His short cabaret run was followed by a one-hour TV spectacular on 30th September for ATV.
His third film, the comedy What A Whopper, was premiered during the summer, although the title song, itself, was not considered strong enough for single release. Instead he chose a song from the film, entitled 'The Time Has Come' written, as usual by Johnny Worth. This reached number four in the charts, and fared better than the film, which opened at the Rialto, London on 28th September, to a terrible pasting from the press. In reaching number eleven in November, 'The Time Has Come', ended a six weeks absence from the charts - his longest gap since 'What Do You Want?'. Faith was reported to be still very keen on pursuing a film career, but not on embarking on a stage musical. A recording of ATV's All Kinds Of Music, was accompanied by the welcome news that the N.M.E. December poll results placed him at number nine in the world musical personality ratings, sixth world male singer, first British musical personality (ahead of Richard & Donegan) and second British male singer (behind Richard). 'The Time Has Come' was even voted seventh best British disc of the year; Faith's hard core following were obviously NME readers!
The New Musical Express, itself, responded to criticism from Faith fans that the paper had previously treated him unfairly in relation to their coverage of Cliff Richard and Elvis Presley, by printing a track by track review of his next album - which they loved!
The fourteen-track LP included songs composed by writer/actor Trevor Peacock, who, like Johnny Worth, had first encountered Faith on the set of Drumbeat when he acted as compere. Amongst the highlights were 'As Long As You Keep Loving Me, 'Watch Your Step' (the subsequent single), 'A Help-Each-Other-Romance', Sho' know A Lot About Love', and an excellent version of Buddy Holly's 'I'm Gonna Love You Too'.
The arrival of 1962 coincided with a distinct change of approach, with the release on 20th January of a ballad, 'Lonesome'. Admittedly the flip, a raucous vocal version of the recent JB7 instrumental, 'Watch Your Step', was more in character but in 'Lonesome', Faith took an artistic gamble in promoting this slower number as the 'A' side. Most reviewers welcomed the change of mood and couldn't see the disc failing at all, whilst a few wondered how Faith's following would react. In the event the record peaked at number 12 and spent 9 weeks in the charts and so the gamble could be said to have paid off. Certainly Faith was reported as being happy with the change.
By this time, Faith was very much part of pop's cognoscenti. He was booked for the N.M.E. Poll-winners concert on 15th April, and declared his intention of forming a new unit to accompany him for this and subsequent engagements. On the 28th January, he appeared on BBC TV's Meeting Point and discussed both religious and moral issues with the Archbishop of York - Dr. Donald Coggan; some subsequent reports of these talks erroneously attribute them to the Face To Face programme. The interview was later covered in Time magazine. In view of his frequent television, radio and recording sessions, Faith decided he needed a London retreat and duly purchased a flat in the West End.
On February 12th, he recorded the Johnny Worth song, 'You Can Do It If You Try', but this was not released at the time, probably due to the impending release of Peter Gordeno's vocal version, using a very similar Barry arrangement.
In March Faith undertook an eleven day nature at a Surrey rest home. He had not stopped touring and recording for eight months and was completely fatigued. Tiring though these tours may have been, Vic Flick, lead guitarist and eventual leader of John Barry Seven, fondly recalls days when the Seven were backing Faith on tour. In particular, he recalls many occasions when drummer Dougie Wright (who bore a passing resemblance to Faith) teased Faith's patiently waiting female followers to the point of ecstatic frenzy whenever he momentarily appeared from out of a dressing room window - they were convinced they had caught a glimpse of the man himself! On another occasion, Flick remembers an incident when Faith and the members of the band, armed themselves with water pistols, behind the stage curtains and soaked comedian Dave Allen in the middle of his act. However, drummer Wright was not so amused when the prank was turned on him - whilst he was in the midst of a frenetic drum solo! Flick recently remarked that these high spirits were their way of avoiding travel fatigue. A few years later, 'The Who', with their own solution to letting off steam, developed the water treatment theme a little further by driving cars into Hotel swimming-pools!
At the Surrey retreat, Faith absorbed the scrip his next film project, Mix Me a Person, which was due to start filming immediately after this short period of recuperation. He also revealed that he was writing a comedy script with his agent, Colin Berlin. Recording sessions, however, always took priority. On 29th March, therefore, Faith embarked upon further recordings with the John Barry Orchestra, some destined for Mix Me A Person. His new single 'As You Like It' coupled with the tongue-in-cheek 'Face To Face' was released on 28th April, and climbed to number five, ensuring Faith his thirteenth consecutive hit - one more than his main rival Cliff Richard had achieved at this stage. Eve Taylor announced that he would star as Aladdin in pantomime that Xmas in Bournemouth.
On 24th May he appeared on Dan Farson Meets and on 23rd June, Thank Your Lucky Stars. August dawned with good reviews for Mix Me A Person which opened in London. This, his fourth film, was a thriller in which his character (Harry Jukes) spent a great deal of time behind bars. He did manage to sing a couple of songs, however, en route; the title song and a version of 'La Bamba' both emanating from that March session with Barry. One of the biggest news items in the music industry that autumn stemmed from the surprise decision from the Barry and Faith camp to sever musical links a purely amicable arrangement designed to enable both parties to develop alternative projects. Barry explained the motives behind this move more fully in an interview with Record Mirror's Peter Jones: "In the early days, Johnny Worth, Adam and I were concentrating on one thing, Adam's records. We were after bread. We were all starting in the business and we were all ambitious. But towards one end only. We were all in the same boat but eventually you reach a climax in all that channelled activity. I'd say it is impossible for three people to stick together permanently in this way. You are bound to develop into different adult channels. We wanted financial gains, When you've got those, you can relax and choose your work. It's a matter of sitting back and considering precisely what you want to do in your career. Do you want to be tied by the boundaries of pop music? Do you want to include all kinds of music? Or all art forms? As an artist, a musician, you can learn something from all forms ... From literature, films and comedy. So no, it wasn't a surprise I left. But you might say it was a surprise I stayed so long."
Once the successful Barry/Faith/Worth triumvirate was finally laid to rest, Faith, in essence, became a singer in regular search of a new direction. From that moment on, he tended to follow the prevailing musical trend rather than set new ones; a fact borne out with each subsequent release. The 'Adam Faith Sound' clearly belonged to a different era. Nevertheless, Faith saw this as a means of moving with the times and although each release did reflect current tastes, he still succeeded in releasing a succession of fine records.
Johnny Keating was the arranger selected to follow in Barry's illustrious footsteps. Their first session produced 'Don't That Beat All', arranged in the style of the black American 'hully gully' sound, dubbed 'Country Gully' by Johnny Worth, who had previously written successfully in this style for Eden Kane. The film theme song, 'Mix Me A Person', constituted the flip-side. At the same time, a new album was being planned to incorporate fresh backings and arrangements at Faith's insistence. A new BBC TV series, Adam Faith Sings Songs Old And New, commenced on 19th September - six half-hour shows, all telerecorded the previous evening. Keating acted as the orchestral arranger while The Roulettes, making their TV debut, were introduced as Faith's new on-stage backing group.
The Roulettes consisted initially of: John Rogers (leader) - bass guitar, Bob Henrit - drums, Peter Thorpe - lead guitar, and Alan 'Honk' Jones - saxophone. However, the sax was soon replaced by rhythm guitarist Henry Stracey, who also played bass guitar, piano & banjo. Despite the Juke Box Jury panel voting the new single a miss, it duly entered the charts on 30th August and in peaking at number eight, became Faith's tenth top-ten record, remaining in the charts for a total of eleven weeks. It was reported that the new album, From Adam With Love, scheduled for Christmas, would contain tracks in the country and western idiom; a policy presumably influenced by Ray Charles' dramatic impact that in vein during 1962.
Faith flew to Australia on 21st October with Jo Leyton for an 18 day tour that also encompassed New Zealand & Hong Kong, returning to his new home in Esher, Surrey; a 'manor-type' house set in an acre of landscaped garden. The house itself included a ground floor billiards room and a blue-carpeted bedroom housing a white, silk-cover king-sized bed - with an adjoining wardroom. What's more, he employed a butler, maid, gardener and valet! How times had changed from those childhood days in Acton.
24th November saw the simultaneous release of next single, 'Baby Take A Bow', with the 12-track From Adam With Love album. On discussing his new single, Faith admitted that the arrangement for 'Baby Takes A Be owed a debt to the style of John Barry, but did necessarily believe this was a regressive step. Both sides, on which Faith was again accompanied by Johnny Keating, were written by Johnny Worth, but it stalled at number twenty-two. Faith attributed poor chart placing to the recent bad weather (f and smog). Climatic changes notwithstanding, slipped out of the charts after only six weeks and was Faith's least successful record since his career took off. Incidentally, 'Baby Take A Bow' was to be the last Faith hit composed by Johnny Worth although he continued to write hits for other artists during the remainder of the sixties. Faith ended1962 back on stage in panto at Bournemouth, starring in Aladdin.
Faith released his first single of 1963 on 25 January, coupling 'What Now', written by Finnish ' songwriter James Jacques, with 'What Have I Got?, penned by Johnny Worth. After the relative failure of his last single, Faith was grateful for the opportunity of singing it on Thank Your Lucky Stars the day after its release, but the record proved less successful than its predecessor in terms of both chart placing (thirty-one) and time spent in the charts (five weeks). Meanwhile, The Roulettes, who had released their own first record, an instrumental version of 'La Bamba' the previous October, underwent another change of personnel, when Russell Ballard took over from Henry Stracey. He was actually recruited to play keyboards but proved so accomplished a guitarist that he was soon sharing lead parts with Peter Thorpe. They were forced to make one final change two months later, after the tragic death of bassist John Rogers, killed in a car crash; with John 'Mod' Rogan, who hailed from West Hartlepool, taking over.
By now, the Beatles were emerging as a considerable force on the British pop scene. Faith, like many established acts of the period, was forced to sit up and take notice! Certainly Jemmy Worth was all too aware of the competition. He had just taken delivery of a brand new E-type Jaguar when he heard Please Please Me and recalls this as the point when he realised that life in the cut-throat world of song writing was sure to become far more difficult for him. As a result, even more care than usual was taken over the choice of Faith's next single, the release of which was delayed until the 22nd June. 'Walkin' Tall' / 'Just Mention My Name' emerged as the final choice and was once again arranged by Johnny Keating. Despite all the care and attention given to this selection, the record fared only marginally better than 'What Now' peaking at number twenty-three. Faith, with the Roulettes in tow, started a Bridlington summer season on 24th June, undeterred, and was said to be in line for the title role in a forth-corning West-End musical, Tom Sawyer, written & scored by Tom Boyd, despite previous misgivings expressed about this genre.
Now that the Mersey sound was beginning to dominate the charts, there was a definite need for some fresh thinking and a change of strategy. Manager Eve Taylor decided to team Faith with a promising but untried songwriter from Dagenham, Chris Andrews, who'd previously appeared with his group, Chris Ravel and The Ravens on early editions of Oh Boy!, and who had paid his dues undertaking a long and arduous club residency in Hamburg. He rewarded her faith in him by composing 'The First Time', released on 6th September, which became Faith's biggest hit for over a year. The b side, 'So Long Baby', was composed, somewhat surprisingly, by veteran band-leader Cyril Stapleton! Faith vigorously and successfully promoted 'The First Time' with appearances on Saturday Club on 27th October and ITV's Comedy Bandbox on 9th November. This single marked the first occasion on which he worked with the Roulettes in the studio, although Keating remained in charge of the overall accompaniment.
In spite of the presence of the Roulettes on the single, however, his new LP, For You, was to feature thirteen cover versions of familiar pop hits, in an orchestral setting. Among the tracks chosen were My Kind Of Girl'. 'Let There Be Love', 'Lazy River', and 'Forget Me Not'; a Johnny Worth song which had been a hit for Eden Kane the previous year. On the 4th October, Faith left for the U.S.A. where he recorded two more Chris Andrews tracks intended for the Tom Sawyer musical - Talk To Me' & 'Promise Of Love'. However, shortly after he returned, the production of Tom Sawyer was postponed indefinitely due to the lack of a suitable theatre in London.
Faith's recording schedule continued unabated, and on December 7th EMI released not only the next 45, 'We Are In Love' / 'Made For Me', both sides penned by Chris Andrews, but also the aforementioned album. He also announced his intention of starring in the New Years Eve edition of Ready Steady Go. The overtly Beatle-like 'We Are In Love' consolidated the impetus generated by 'The First Time', by reaching number eleven, and running up a total of twelve weeks in the charts. The December N.M.E. poll, placed Faith as fourteenth most popular world male singer, twenty-fifth world musical personality and fourth British male singer. Faith was clearly riding the Mersey wave with some aplomb. What's more he was invited to appear on Sunday Night at the Prince of Wales on 22nd December and Sunday Night at the London Palladium on 29th December - his first appearance there for three years.
The Faith/Andrews combination was retained for both sides of his new single, 'if He Tells You' (which reached number 25 in the charts). The Roulettes were required once more for backing purposes, although Ralph Carmichael rather than Johnny Keating took up the arranging mantle for the b side, 'Talk To Me'. The record was released at the beginning of March as a precursor to a fully-fledged Andrews composed LP. Entitled On The Move this album demonstrated Faith's complete confidence in Andrews' song-writing ability. However, he did himself few favours when he suggested to Eve Taylor that Andrews should also start writing for Sandie Shaw, a singer discovered and introduced to Taylor by Faith himself. Despite three more minor Andrews-inspired hits, it seemed that the writer was now concentrating his best efforts for Miss Shaw. Hindsight proves that this was the right direction to take.
Released in May, 'I Love Being In Love With You' disappointingly spent a mere six weeks in the U.K. charts. However, its poor performance on this side of the Atlantic was offset by the success of its "b" side, 'It's Alright', in the American Billboard charts where it reached number 31, thereby securing for Faith his only real success there. He attributed its popularity to its exposure on American television's Shindig, a show devised by his old mentor Jack Good, who preferred 'It's Alright's fashionable Mersey sound. Americans bought it in sufficient quantities to justify Good's faith in the song.
Faith's next release, like its predecessor another Andrews' song, was lifted from the new album. The fact few fans decided to buy it suggested that they already owned the LP. In order to arrest this current downward chart spiral, Faith took a different tack, by covering a Bacharach/David song, 'A Message To Martha on which he was accompanied by new musical director Ken Woodman - who was a working with Sandie Shaw. Bacharach and David were one of pop's hottest tickets in 1964. Record companies, on this side of the Atlantic, plundered their back catalogue to provide quality material for UK acts determined to make an initial chart impact. Cilia Black and Sandie Shaw among them. Faith was therefore clearly playing safe, with what turned out to be a fine rendition. In fact, it restored him to the top twenty over the Christmas period and was his biggest bit since 'The First Time'. The song was also included on an e.p. entitled A Message - From Adam, along with the Chris Andrews composition 'Come Closer'.
His partnership with Chris Andrews was revived February 1965, for the release of 'Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself' / 'I've Gotta See My Baby Although reasonably placed at twenty three, it was becoming evident that Faith, himself, was rapidly becoming disenchanted with the pop-world. He announced his intention of going into repertory an effort to re-establish his acting credentials, which had necessarily taken a back seat of late. Nevertheless, he continued to record for Parlophone and on the 23rd March, released 'Hand Me Down Things', written by American Andrew Sparks, coupled with 'Talk About Love', another Andrews song. This single completely failed to capture the imagination of the record-buying public, Perhaps he simply chose the wrong song on this occasion, for it might have been a very different story had he chosen instead, another Andrews song, 'I'll Stop At Nothing', (included on a recent e.p., Songs And Things). Within a few weeks of hearing it, Sandie Shaw recorded and released her own version which duly reached the top five!
In April 1965, Faith took the unusual step of releasing a live album, Faith Alive - live in the sense of being recorded with no overdubs in front of a specially invited audience at Abbey Road Studios. On this LP, Faith was backed solely by the Roulettes, and of the fourteen tracks, only five emanated from Andrews' pen. The others comprised of 'classic' rock .n' roll songs such as 'Little Queenie' and 'Heartbreak Hotel', together with an acknowledgement to the Beatles in the form of a version of 'I Wanna Be Your Man'. This album proved extremely popular and actually reached number fourteen in the album charts.
'Someone's Taken Maria Away', provided Faith with another minor hit in June, but the decline in his popularity was ably demonstrated the following month, when for the first time since 1960, he was unplaced in a music paper poll listing top world male vocalists - though he did manage to scrape into the British section. Although The Roulettes played on 'Someone's Taken Maria Away', and the subsequent single, 'I Don't Need That Kind Of Lovin", this turned out to be their swan-song. On the 7th October, they announced their decision to concentrate on their own recording career. As Bob Henrit recalls: 'Adam was moving more into ballads, and anyway we felt that we needed to be a fully-fledged band in our own right, not just a backing group. `
A Roulette-less Faith found increasing difficulty in finding suitable material to resuscitate his faltering career. Neither 'Idle Gossip' nor 'To Make A Big Man Cry' was strong enough to worry his rivals, although 'if Ever You Need Me', (the former's 'B' side) illustrated his interpretive skills as a vocalist. Perhaps Faith's heart lay in a completely different field of entertainment. Music had become, subconsciously at any rate, little more than a perfunctory chore. Nevertheless, his spirited cover of Bob Lind's Cheryls Goin' Home' restored him to the top fifty, albeit briefly, and proved to be Faith's final chart placing as the lure of the grease paint beckoned.
Other releases continued unabated, however. Among 1967's recordings were, 'What More Can Anyone Do' (his final Chris Andrews song), 'Cowman Milk Your Cow' (an early Bee Gees composition), John D. Loudermilk's 'To Hell With Love' and Tony Romeo's 'Close The Door'. However, for Faith, the event which overshadowed all others that year was undoubtedly his marriage to former dancer, Jackie Irving. A couple of years later, their only child, daughter Katya was born. Quite possibly his biggest commercial coup was in persuading Sandie Shaw to perform and record 'Puppet On A String' - a decision she was later to regret. Not only did it become the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, but it also reached number one in the U.K. and in a plethora of other European countries. Faith convinced her it was in her best interests to sing it, after she had fallen out with Eve Taylor over its merits as a song. Her gratitude to Faith for his advice was somewhat tempered, however, when Taylor revealed much later that he had a financial interest in her and the song's publishers! Clearly Faith's aptitude for spotting an investment opportunity had not diminished.
Adam Faith released his last single for EMI in 1968, 'You Make My Life Worthwhile'. Arranged and conducted by Ken Woodman, it was an excellent recording which deserved a better fate, but with Faith opting to make his stage debut playing Feste in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, he was in no position to promote it. In view of this, both he and EMI decided to part company; Faith, the actor, was consigning Faith, the pop star, to the annals of music history.
Faith's success on stage and screen was hardly unexpected, given his thirst for knowledge and capacity for hard work. He decided to learn stage craft from first principles in repertory theatre, out of which a number of small parts initially emanated. This stood him in good stead, when he was given a more substantial role in Night Must Fall, playing opposite Dame Sybil Thorndike. In effect, this amounted to his big break; his stage equivalent of appearing on Drumbeat! In the autumn of '69 he took the lead in a touring version of Billy Liar, and eighteen months later found renewed television fame in the title role of Budgie.
Apart from one comeback album for Warner Bros in 1974, (borne, one suspects, out of a desire to celebrate in song his full recovery from a near fatal car crash a year earlier) and an original cast recording he made of the musical version of Budgie in 1988, Faith has since concentrated almost solely on acting and has gone a considerable way to achieving his ambition expressed so lucidly back in 1959, prior to his nineteenth birthday.
During the seventies, he impressed both moviegoers and critics alike with convincing performances in Stardust and McVicar, and also found time to immerse himself in the management side of the rock industry. Budding agent and song-writer Dave Courtney (who Faith knew as a result of his association with The Roulettes) introduced him to former busker Leo Sayer. Instantly impressed by Sayer's vocal prowess and song-writing ability, he immediately set out a strategy for launching his protégée, and, as a direct spin-off, also produced a solo album for The Who's Roger Daltry, which contained a selection of Sayer/Courtney songs.
The eighties saw Faith once again reinvent himself in the public eye, this time in the form of a self-appointed financial guru and even wrote a column for The Mail On Sunday, aptly titled 'Faith In The City', which epitomised the 'get rich quick' philosophy espoused in that Thatcher-drenched decade. It ended on something of a sour note when he was prevented from issuing a free fact sheet which promised to make its recipients millionaires!
This was also a period when Faith was often heard to be scathing about his own recording legacy, holding it chiefly responsible for scuppering his attempts at securing a lasting acting career. As guest at a dinner party where his old hits were being played, he was chastised by the host for criticising them so harshly, for rubbishing the very music he had enjoyed as a youth. Faith was rather taken aback by this accusation and was forced to re-appraise his feelings for his pop career.
Judging from subsequent comments made in the media, he clearly did so. On the eve of the release of a brand new album, 'Midnight Postcards, (released in November '93), he told The Daily Mail that he was no longer dismissive about his pop star roots and saw no incongruency in combining an acting with a singing career. "I retired from singing 20 years ago so I could be an actor. I had begun to hate my pop association because I so wanted to act. In those days you couldn't really do both. Now I realise that the two things I do best are singing and acting. I'm only sorry that it has taken me so long to combine the two."
On stage for some years he performed the title role in Alfie around the provinces, played the narrator in A Chorus Line and toured the UK in Love & Marriage. Often in demand for television, following his initial success with Budgie, in the nineties he starred in the highly successful BBC TV drama, Love Hurts, with Zoe Wannamaker; and in 2002 he made the less popular The House That Jack Built - also for the BBC.
He had a heart by-pass operation in the mid-eighties, but had enjoyed reasonable health from then onwards. However, the failure of his cable TV channel, The Money Channel, a couple of years ago, resulting in his bankruptcy, may have taken its toll. He was planning a one-man stage performance tour of Britain in 2004, in which he would act out his career, including some of the songs which launched his career. He died on the 8th March 2003 from a heart attack, a few hours after finishing a performance of Love & Marriage.
Geoff Leonard and Pete Walker
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