Obituary copyright Times Newspapers 2003

Adam talks about his start in the business.

ONE 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 pop show.

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 hit.”

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 1970.

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 Lonnie Donegan.

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.”