Pop singer who reinvented himself several times

 

ADAM FAITH: Adam Faith, who has died of a heart attack at 62, was one of Britain's leading pop singers in the early 1960s. vying for popularity with Billy Fury and Cliff Richard.

His brief career as a pop idol was eclipsed when guitar groups, such as the Beatles, took over and his style of beat ballad seemed outmoded.

Instead, he reinvented himself several times, as music businessman, financial expert and, in particular, as an actor. His acting career reached a peak in 1971 when he starred in the television series Budgie, scripted by Keith Waterhouse.

Born Terence Nelhams in Acton, west London, the third of five children of a coach- driver and an office-cleaner, he left school to work in the film industry, progressing from messenger boy to assistant film editor.

He was inspired to form the Worried Men skiffle group in 1956 by Lonnie Donegan's recording of Rock Island Line.

While performing for BBC TV's 6-5 Special show in 1958, Nelhams caught the eye of producer Jack Good, who suggested he change his name. Good gave him a book of Christian names from which Terry picked Adam from the boys' section and Faith from the girls'.

His first recording, in 1959, for Parlophone, What Do You Want?, was masterminded by Barry, songwriter Johnny Worth and producer John Burgess.

They reinvented Faith as an Anglicised Buddy Holly and the record, soon selling 50,000 copies a day, hit No 1, the first of his 16 Top 20 records over the next five years.

In December 1960 Faith was interviewed on the BBC TV programme Face To Face by John Freeman, to whom he revealed that his favourite composers were Sibelius and Dvorak and his favourite book Catcher In The Rye.

By 1967 his star had waned and he focused on an acting career. He toured as the lead in Keith Waterhouse's and Willis Hall's Billy Liar, appeared as Feste in Twelfth Night and with Dame Sybil Thorndyke in Emlyn Williams's Night Must Fall.

His role in Budgie, as the diffident small-time crook, suited Faith's stage persona, and the show ran for several seasons. In 1974 he played the manager of the rock star character played by David Essex in Stardust.

In the 1980s he reinvented himself again as a financial guru for the yuppie generation. He was associated with Roger Levitt and, when the latter's investment empire collapsed, Faith was reported to have lost £10 million. He later became a partner in The Money Channel on cable and satellite TV, but its failure in 2001 cost him £32 million and forced him into bankruptcy.

In the 1990s, Faith returned to stage and television acting, appearing in the sitcoms Love Hurts with Zoë Wanamaker and The House That Jack Built with Gillian Taylforth.

He is survived by his wife, the former dancer, Jackie Irving, whom he married in 1975, and their daughter, Katya.

Adam Faith (Terence Nelhams): born June 23rd, 1940; died March 8th, 2003