Adam Faith, a square-jawed British singer who was briefly a Cockney challenger to Elvis Presley’s rock ‘n’ roll crown, died Saturday. He was 62.
Faith suffered a heart attack in Stoke-on-Trent in central England, where he was appearing in a play, his agent, Alan Field, said. Faith, who had a history of heart trouble, fell ill after Friday’s performance and died later in a hospital, the agent said.
Born Terry Nelhams in west London in 1940, Faith was a handsome teenager who was playing with a skiffle music group -- a mixture of jug band, acoustic, folk, blues and country and western styles -- in Soho coffee shops when he was spotted by producers of a British Broadcasting Corp. music program.
Adopting the stage name Adam Faith, he became -- alongside Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele and Billy Fury -- one of a crop of slick but unthreatening British pop stars of the pre-Beatles era.
“He came through in the pioneering days of pop music, and he really was a big icon along with Cliff Richard -- they were the first wave of the British version of the pop music world,” Field said.
Developing a hiccuping delivery reminiscent of Buddy Holly, Faith had more than 20 British hits, including the chart-topping “What Do You Want?” and “Poor Me.”
Faith also was a versatile actor, appearing in the films “Beat Girl,” “Mix Me a Person” and 1975’s “Stardust” opposite David Essex. In the 1970s he played a Cockney ex-con in the TV series “Budgie.”
In the 1980s Faith forged a new career as a financial advisor, writing a column for a national newspaper. But his 1999 bid to launch a financial television channel ended badly; the Money Channel shut down after two years, and last year Faith declared bankruptcy.
He is survived by his wife, Jackie, and daughter Katya.