Spotlight on ……
When Cliff Richard decided to offer one of his tour audiences a gentle send-up of himself during a 1962 concert, he chose one of his then pop star rivals as his foil. Singing about himself as a “Rovin’ Gambler” at the ABC Cinema in Kingston, he invented (to a cacophony of screams) a local girl who tempted him into her parlour. “She said, ‘Do you know who you remind of?’” he sang. The answer that he got was “Adam Faith”!
At that time, Adam was indeed almost as big a hit-maker, but whereas Cliff kept the hits coming throughout a 50-year (and counting!) life as a singer, Adam Faith’s spell as a pop idol was more short-lived. Eventually, he gave up singing in favour of a more durable career as a straight actor in films and on television. But, from 1959 to 1966, Faith was one of the biggest hit-makers around. He had two 1s, a further eight Top Ten hits and 24 chart entries overall. Not bad for a singer who about whom the magazine Disc as early as 1959 ran a headline saying “Adam Faith Plumps For Acting.”
Adam Faith was born in June 1940. He grew up as Terry Nelhams, discovering only when he came to apply for his first passport that his full name was actually Terry Nelhams-Wright. Adam first entered show business in a skiffle group called “The Worried Men”, a title taken from one of the hits of Terry’s idol, Lonnie Donegan. When TV producer Jack Good came across them, he booked the group onto his iconic BBC pop music show “6.5 Special”. Good also had a hand in converting Terry Nelhams to Adam Faith, who took his place alongside the similarly named Marty Wilde, Billy Fury and Eden Kane. They, along with Cliff, all vied to become the English Elvis, although many saw Adam Faith as a British combination of James Dean and Buddy Holly. “6.5 Special” also brought Adam into contact with John Barry, future composer of many of the famous Bond movie scores, but then leading the John Barry Seven. A friendship formed and Barry offered Adam his second big break in 1959 when he invited him to become a regular member of the next generation of BBC pop music TV shows, “Drumbeat”.
Despite his growing exposure on television, chart success proved elusive for the 19 year-old singer from Acton. Two early singles on the HMV label went nowhere as did Adam’s only offering for the Top Rank label. The three false starts however became history when singer Johnny Worth came up with a song called “What Do You Want?” Working under the pseudonym of Les Vandyke, Worth teamed up with John Barry to produce a pizzicato-style arrangement that drew heavily on Buddy Holly’s “Rainin’ In My Heart”. Faith’s vocal was more reserved than his previous offerings, although it was another member of the “Drumbeat” cast who provided the final piece in the hit-making jigsaw. Roy Young had heard Adam do a demo of the song and suggested that he sing the word ‘baby’ and ‘bay-beh’. He did, with great effect both on that single and the others that followed.
Suddenly the floodgates were open. “What Do You Want?” hit the charts in December 1959 and the follow-up, released whilst WDYW was still at 2, also claimed the top spot in March 1960. Another ‘bay-beh’ song, “Someone Else’s Baby” came next and almost made it a hat trick of chart toppers, failing narrowly to dislodge the Everly Brothers “Cathy’s Clown” from the top spot. From then on, there seemed to be no stopping Adam Faith. His next 10 singles between April 1960 and August 1962 were all hits, with the least successful reaching 12 and seven of the 10 hitting the Top Ten. The list included “Lonely Pup (In A Christmas Shop)”, a song that is now a regular part of any compilation of Christmas chart entries.
Life for a pop star in the early Sixties was hectic. Radio, records and television appearances sat alongside a need to tour the pre-motorway Britain from end to end, as well as fitting in the traditional summer seasons and Christmas pantomimes. Adam was such a hot property in 1960 that his bookings included the top summer season venue of Blackpool plus a Royal Variety Performance where he co-starred with Cliff and Lonnie Donegan. In 1962, Adam hosted a BBC TV series called “Adam Faith Sings Songs Old And New” but there was already an indication that the times were a-changing. “Baby Take A Bow” was Adam’s first single to miss the Top 20 for three years (although it did reach 22 in December 1962). Four young men from Liverpool who had joined Adam on EMI’s Parlophone label were re-writing the rules and soon most of the solo pop singers found themselves crashing into the buffer called The Beatles.
Adam Faith continued making singles and albums for a few more years but he was already laying the foundations for a different show business life. He had made his TV acting debut as early as 1959 with a role in the police series “No Hiding Place”, followed by two film appearances in “Beat Girl” and “What A Whopper”, a Sid James comedy. Other parts followed, although many will remember Adam for his lead role as the eponymous loser in “Budgie”, a 1970s TV series that he reprised on stage in the Nineties. Faith’s wider interests also took him into management and investment, although his involvement in TV’s “The Money Channel” ultimately failed and led to his being declared bankrupt in 2001. Adam’s response had been to return to performing and it was during a UK tour on the play “Love & Marriage” that he died of a heart attack in Stoke-on –Trent on 8th March 2003.
This CD returns to the days in the early Sixties when Adam Faith was one of the hottest properties in British pop. It features 26 tracks, presented in chronological order from 1959 to 1966 and includes all of Adam’s 24 chart-entry singles. Enjoy again voice of the young man from Acton who turned ‘baby’ into ‘bay-beh’!
ADAM FAITH – ALL THE HITS!
1. What Do You Want (1)
2. Poor Me (1)
3. Someone Else's Baby (2)
4. Johnny Comes Marching Home (5)
5. Made You (5)
6. How About That! (4)
7. Lonely Pup (In A Christmas Shop) (4)
8. This Is It! (5)
9. Who Am I! (5)
10. Easy Going Me (12)
11. Don't You Know It? (12)
12. The Time Has Come (4)
13. Lonesome (12)
14. As You Like It (5)
15. Don't That Beat All (8)
16. Baby Take A Bow (22)
17. What Now (31)
18. Walkin' Tall (23)
19. The First Time (5)
20. We Are In Love (11)
21. If He Tells You (25)
22. I Love Being In Love With You (33)
23. A Message To Martha (Kentucky Bluebird) (12)
24. Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself (23)
25. Someone's Taken Maria Away (34)
26. Cheryl's Goin' Home (46)
( ) Highest chart position
Spotlight on …
A fan’s perspective
Q. When did you first become aware of the late Matt Monro?
Matt’s music has always been a part of my life as my husband Peter was a great fan and played Matt’s tapes all the time in the car. In those days I suppose he was always comfortably there in the background. It was around this time I also discovered Jack Jones, and I suppose you could say at that time that Jack came out the winner.
Q. I understand you are an ardent Jack Jones fan so how have you come to be a fan of Matt’s – was it a sudden change?
It was a very gradual change and I still am a great fan of Jack’s, but Matt slowly grew on me, and with the beginning of the website a whole new world of Matt Monro opened up, and I became more and more interested in discovering all about the man and appreciating his music.
Q. How did you originally connect with Michele?
I first met Michele many years ago when Peter and I went to see Joe Francis appear in Bournemouth. In her official capacity at the time Michele invited us to Joe’s dressing room to pick up a tape after the show. We were very impressed by her friendly and relaxed attitude, although I don’t think she is quite so relaxed these days! The next time I met Michele was at the first ‘Friends Reunited’ get together at The Beck Theatre. I wrote a note of thanks to her after the event, and possibly have remained a thorn in her side ever since!
Q. I understand Michele can be exacting and is totally passionate about the music of her father – was she how you imagined her?
I wasn’t quite sure what kind of person she would turn out to be, but I believe I have come to know and understand Michele well enough over the months and even years now, to know she is absolutely committed to her Dad’s cause.
She doesn’t suffer fools gladly and she is a stickler for detail and getting things right. For some this can be a bit scary, and we even gave her the nickname ‘Minefield Monro’ as if you put your foot down in the wrong place, there is likely to be an explosion! (Only joking Michele.) Not too far beneath this veneer though there is a loving, caring daughter, mother and friend, whose main aim in life is to promote her father’s memory and music to the very best of her ability, and woe betide anyone who gets in her way!
Q. How would you describe the music of Matt Monro?
Timeless. He had a natural born gift that is given to very few.
Q. What is your favourite song?
It is really impossible to name just one. There are so many to choose from and they move in and out of the favoured position regularly.
Q. And your least favourite?
Yet again, it’s impossible to give a direct answer. There are some songs I do not like as much as some others, but that is the song, and not the singer.
Q. Looking at some of the past albums is there something you would like to have seen done differently?
Not really, although I would have liked more varied titles for the later releases.
It can be confusing at times with so many similar titles, especially now I’m getting on a bit!
Q. You attended the ‘First Fans Reunited’ a gathering for fans of the late singer, how did it go, and was it everything you imagined it to be?
Everything and much more, I didn’t know quite what to expect, and it turned out to be something I have never experienced before. As well as the rare music and film clips which were purely magical, there were friends everywhere, people who were strangers but friends, people brought together by the website who already knew one another and yet didn’t, it was an extraordinary and memorable experience.
Q. What is ‘Friends of Matt Monro’ and how does it differ from a visit to the website?
‘Friends of Matt Monro’ is the Official Fan Club for the fans of both Matt Monro and Matt Monro Jnr. run by Geraldine Vine. Anyone who cares to join receives a welcome pack with some great photos and also four newsletters a year. These give all the recent news for anyone who doesn’t have access to the website and it also has special offers and competitions that are not available on line. The Backstage Passes available during Matt Jnr’s concert tours were a really enjoyable bonus and a special part of being a member of ‘Friends of Matt Monro’. The website gives you more immediate information and contact with other members, but it is good to belong to both, then you won’t miss anything.
Q. What is your favourite aspect of the website and what do you think sets it aside from others of its kind?
I think all aspects of the website are special and the amount of information packed within its pages is phenomenal. The regular monthly updates by Michele are eagerly awaited each month. Other websites do not get this attention to detail and often appear to be running well out of date. Ours is an up to the minute, living, breathing website, well in touch with all that is happening in the world of Matt Monro, and far beyond.
Q. www.mattmonro.com http://www.mattmonro.com has won several awards since it was launched and recently the Forum was taken off air – do you think it is an important aspect of the site and worth fighting for?
The forum is probably the most well used and valued section of our website, you’ll notice I say ‘our website’ because that is how it is thought of, as we are all a part of it and have formed firm and lasting friendships through our postings.
It is definitely worth fighting for. As Michele has mentioned, it is the ‘heartbeat’ of our website and the ‘hub’ that holds us all together.
Q. The Rare Monro was five years in the making – do you think it was a valuable addition to the catalogue and would you welcome a follow up?
Definitely. These rare recordings, many of which had never been heard before, were like a breath of fresh air, and the welcome equivalent of new releases by any other recording artist today. That is what makes the music of Matt Monro so timeless and exciting, new finds like these are still being discovered and released today. A follow up would be yet another wonderful addition and I look forward to it as soon as possible.
Q. Matt Monro never brought out a Christmas album although he did record ‘Mary’s Boy Child’, ‘When a Child is Born’ and the recently discovered ‘Christmas Magic’, do you think Matt lends himself well to this sort of music and are you surprised he never brought out a seasonal album?
I’m sure a Christmas album by Matt Monro would have been as successful and popular as any of his other albums and his voice would indeed lend itself to this kind of music. I suppose it is surprising that he never made one, but most artists only ever make one anyway, mostly repeating the same carols and songs, so I do not think it was particularly necessary for Matt to have produced one too.
Q. If you had free reign and money was no object what project would you like to bring to the market?
If money was no object I would like to have Michele’s book on general sale in all good bookshops in time for Christmas this year, and well in time for Matt’s 25th Anniversary next February. I’m sure this would be possible if enough money was available. It would also have as many pages and photographs as she wants.
I would also like to provide widespread newspaper and television publicity for each new release, including the book and Matt’s CDs and DVDs, so that many more of his fans are aware of them and know they are out there, and that the reviews would not be just written by a few loyal fans on the forum, although of course, these will always be the most important!
Q. Considering a few years ago there was thought to be no existing material on the singer, how do you feel about the release of DVDs to the catalogue?
I think they are amazing and a wonderful addition to the catalogue of Matt Monro. It must really be like stumbling across a treasure trove continuing to unearth such a wealth of previously undiscovered material, and then to be able to present it to the public digitally re-mastered, is such an added bonus.
Q. On 16th February Odeon added another disc to their growing library ‘The Ultimate Matt Monro’ Is it a worthy addition or do you feel they are flooding the market?
It is a very worthy addition. How can you have too much of these rare glimpses of Matt live from the past? Wonderfully presented and digitally re-mastered it has given us something we have never had before, a look back at Matt as he was, and with an enhanced picture and sound quality than was never even possible back then.
Q. With the above question in mind are you looking forward to the new EMI release in March/April ‘Matt at the BBC’, which will also include rare television footage?
As soon as it is available to pre-order, my order will definitely be in. I can’t wait to see yet more of these amazing clips.
Q. Richard Moore has contributed to the last few releases; the forthcoming one is no exception so how do you think his input has benefited these new masters?
Richard’s input must have been invaluable, and I’m sure his skills have contributed greatly to the outcome, producing a finished product of exceptional quality every time.
Q. What do you think is the most exciting experience you have had regarding the Monro family?
I have always been interested in family history and a couple of years ago I mentioned to Michele that Peter and I were going to the National Archives in London, and I asked if she would like us to search for her father’s school records while we were there, as she had already started on research for her book.
We duly went along with what little information we had at the time and started looking through the boxes of relevant school records. We knew Matt had attended Duncombe Road School at one time and possibly Bath Street School too, so we started the microfilm machine and began looking through what seemed miles and miles of microfilm. At the end of the morning and almost at the point of giving up, I found him, in 1936 – Terence Edward Parsons!
It was an exciting moment, made all the more special knowing we were probably the first to set eyes on that hand written document in a long, long time.
We eventually found more details of his school history, but that first find was definitely the most memorable.
Q. Matt’s son has followed his footsteps in the business, when did you first see Matt Jnr. perform and did you enjoy the show?
I first saw Matt Jnr. perform during his first UK tour at The Swan Theatre in High Wycombe and yes; it was a very enjoyable evening.
Q. What do you think is the hardest aspect of Matt Jnr’s job?
I think it must be being expected to perform his father’s big ballad hits, and being compared to his father when he sings them.
Q. He recently brought out a solo album – how did you rate it?
I think it contains a nice selection of songs, many of which are more suited to Matt Jnr’s voice than are some of his father’s songs. All in all I found it a very enjoyable album.
Q. You must be counted as one of Matt Monro’s staunchest fans – what prompted this love affair and what is your fascination with collecting his memorabilia?
I think it was Michele’s enthusiasm for her father’s work and his music that must have rubbed off to some extent, plus the fact that I have grown to appreciate Matt’s musical talent so much more. His phrasing and pauses appear so effortless and his interpretations are unmistakeably his own. Memorabilia collecting is just a part of the whole. I was never fortunate enough to have seen Matt live, but I can still collect special memories from those times.
Q. With everything you know about the singer, do you think the forthcoming book written by his daughter will be objective?
Well, with everything I know about the daughter, I’m sure it will. Michele is straight and honest, and I know wants everything about her father she writes to be told in a straight and honest way too. I’m sure it will be the complete Matt Monro story.
Q. If you could only take one CD to a desert island what would it be and why?
Another difficult one. I think I would probably take ‘The Rare Monro’ as it has many lovely tracks, some of which are still not as well known to me as many of the older favourites. I could remember the old songs, as well as learning to love many of the new.
Q. Describe Matt Monro in three words?
Unique musical talent.