Adam Faith (23 June 1940 - 8 March 2003)
Terence (Terry) Nelhams-Wright, known as Adam Faith, was born in East Acton, West London, 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 at the age of 15 he left school and embarked on his first full-time job as an odd-job boy for a silk screen printer close to his home.
In 1967 he married Jackie Irving, and they had a daughter, Katya.
According to The Guardian (10 March 2003), Faith was of the first generation of home-grown British stars, one who
- vied 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. But he did not disappear from the limelight. 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.
- Adam Faith was quickly established as a teen-idol. From 1960 to 1962, he appeared in the films Beat Girl, Never Let Go, What A Whopper!, and Mix Me A Person, a psychological drama which established his acting credentials. John Barry's scores for three of the films provided the springboard for his subsequent work for the James Bond series.
- Such was his instant celebrity that in December 1960 Adam 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. In the words of pop pundit Nik Cohn, Faith thereby introduced "the concept of pop singer as thinker".
Faith had a history of heart problems and was given open heart surgery in 1986 to relieve blocked arteries. He died of heart failure, a few hours after finishing a performance of Love and Marriage.
His funeral took place on the afternoon of March 19th at the chapel of Kent and Sussex Crematorium in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. More than 100 friends and family, including his wife Jackie and daughter Katya, gathered for the entertainer's cremation, with a host of celebrities paying their respects.
Unusually, a wicker coffin, covered in flowers, was used for the service. Adam's agent, Alan Field, explained the unusual choice of casket. He said "Jackie wanted something different and a bit special. She heard about a firm in Somerset which made them, and she thought they were beautiful."
Celebrities including actress Zoe Wanamaker, Michael Parkinson, Leo Sayer, Sandie Shaw, and Roger Daltrey were present, as well as celebrity publicist Max Clifford and football manager Terry Venables.
After the ceremony Michael Parkinson said: "It was not jolly, that would be the wrong thing to say, but we had a few laughs. It was a service of remembrance. As much as anything else he was a singular man as sad as his death is when you think of him you cannot help smiling. He was one of my best friends. I loved him very much."
Roger Daltrey said: "I will miss him. He was a one off. He was a good mate."
Terry Venables - who wrote the 1970s TV drama Hazell - told reporters: "I've known him so long. We go back many years. It's such a shock. I spoke to him a few days before and he was fine, his usual self. I felt he was wonderful, great company, always pleased to see anybody and a supportive friend."
A small group of Faith's fans also went to the funeral. Carole Wood, 54, from Ashford in Kent, said: "I was a fan of his from the very beginning and followed his career. I went to see him when I was about 12. It's the end of an era."
Despite his name, this Adam was faithless. He was known in England as not being a member of any of the organized religions, and his family followed his wishes about not having a church funeral.
(See Humanist Ceremonies.)