|Birth name||Thomas Hicks|
|Born||17 December 1936|
Bermondsey, London, England, United Kingdom
|Genres||Rock and roll, skiffle|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, banjo|
|Labels||Decca, Columbia, RCA Victor|
|Associated acts||The Steelmen|
Sir Thomas Hicks, teen idol and rock and roll star. He reached number one with "Singing the Blues" in 1957, and The Tommy Steele Story was the first album by a UK act to reach number 1 in his native country.(born 17 December 1936), known professionally as Tommy Steele, is an English entertainer, regarded as Britain's first
Steele worked in various jobs, including a brief period as a merchant seaman. He was not eligible for national service because, at eighteen years old, he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. In his autobiography, Bermondsey Boy: Memories of a Forgotten World, he reports that he failed the medical because he had flat feet. Whenever not working, he played guitar and banjo and sang in two coffee houses in Soho, the 2i's Coffee Bar and the Cat's Whisker, both as a solo performer and with Wally Whyton's Vipers Skiffle Group.
When a ship Steele was serving on docked in Norfolk, Virginia, U.S., he heard Buddy Holly and fell in love with rock and roll, turning his back on the British skiffle craze. He was discovered by freelance photographer John Kennedy, who believed Steele could be Britain's answer to Elvis Presley. Later co-manager Larry Parnes was incorrectly credited with creating the stage name 'Tommy Steele'. It was Steele who adapted the surname of his Scandinavian paternal grandfather, Thomas Stil-Hicks (pronounced Steel-Hicks), adding another E to the spelling.
Steele became famous in the UK as the frontman for a rock and roll band, the Steelmen, after their first single, "Rock With the Caveman", reached number 13 in the UK Singles Chart in 1956. Steele and other British singers would pick known hit records from the United States, record their cover versions of these songs, and release them in the UK before the American versions could enter the charts. Most of Steele's 1950s recordings were covers of American hits, such as "Singing the Blues" and "Knee Deep in the Blues". Although Steele never proved a serious threat to Presley's popularity in the UK, he did well on the 1950s UK chart and "Singing the Blues" got to Number 1 in the UK before Presley did so. Guy Mitchell was number 1 with "Singing the Blues" on 4 January 1957 and Tommy Steele on 11 January 1957. Steele's 1957 album, The Tommy Steele Story, was the first by a UK-based act to reach number 1 in the UK.
Only four months after his first chart presence, he was filming his life story. To do so, Steele and his songwriting collaborators, Lionel Bart and Mike Pratt, wrote twelve songs in seven days. His first three single releases were issued at a rate of one every three weeks. In 1957 Steele bought a four-bedroomed house in South London for his parents. In August 1959, Steele undertook a three-day concert visit to Moscow.
In 1958, Steele had the opportunity to work with his younger brother, Colin Hicks, during a tour in which the latter replaced one of the other performers, Terry Dene, who had withdrawn for psychiatric reasons.
In late 2009 his greatest hits collection, The Very Best of Tommy Steele, reached the Top 40 in the UK Albums Chart. This was the first UK chart entry, of any kind, that Steele had had for over 46 years.
The increase in home-grown musical talent during the 1950s and 1960s allowed Steele to progress to a career in stage and film musicals, leaving behind his pop-idol identity. In 1957, he was voted the seventh-most-popular actor at the British box office.
In 1960, a tour of Australia had not been particularly successful, and on his return to England he received two offers, one to star in the play Billy Liar, the other to join the Old Vic Company. He chose the latter.
In the West End, he appeared in She Stoops to Conquer, and played the title role of Hans Christian Andersen. On film, he recreated his London and Broadway stage role in Half a Sixpence, and played character roles in The Happiest Millionaire and Finian's Rainbow, although many critics[who?] found his personality to be somewhat overwhelming on screen. In this last film, probably his best known appearance in films, he played Og, the leprechaun turning human, and co-starred with Petula Clark and Fred Astaire. In 1968, British exhibitors voted him the fourth most popular star at the local box office. The following year, he starred with Stanley Baker in the period drama Where's Jack?
In April 1971, Steele starred in his own show Meet Me in London originating in Las Vegas before a limited run at London's Adelphi Theatre. The London production was troubled when Steele demanded cuts to the first act on opening night. Singer Clodagh Rodgers refused to accommodate the cuts and walked out fifteen minutes before the first night curtain. She was eventually replaced by Susan Maughan.
In 1983, Steele directed and starred in the West End stage production of Singin' in the Rain at the London Palladium. In 1991 he toured with Some Like It Hot the stage version of the Jack Lemmon/Tony Curtis/Marilyn Monroe film. In 2003, after a decade-long hiatus, save his one-man shows An Evening With Tommy Steele and What A Show!, he toured as Ebenezer Scrooge in a production of Scrooge: The Musical, an adaptation of Scrooge. Following this return, he reprised his role at the Palace Theatre, Manchester over Christmas 2004, and brought the production to the London Palladium for Christmas 2005. In 2008, at the age of 71, Steele toured in the lead role of the stage musical Doctor Dolittle.
Steele is a respected sculptor and four of his major works have been on public display. Bermondsey Boy at Rotherhithe Town Hall in London, was stolen in 1998: its whereabouts is unknown. Eleanor Rigby, which he sculpted and donated to the City of Liverpool as a tribute to the Beatles, stands in Stanley Street, Liverpool, not far from the Cavern Club. Union, featuring two rugby players, is on display at Twickenham Stadium. Trinity, designed during the regeneration of the docklands area in Bermondsey, stood outside the Trinity building in Bermondsey. When Steele lived in Montrose House, Petersham, Surrey, his life-sized sculpture of Charlie Chaplin as "The Tramp" stood outside his front door. He is also an artist of some note and has exhibited at the Royal Academy.
He also wrote a children's novel, entitled Quincy, about a reject toy trying to save himself and his fellow rejects in the basement of a toy store from the furnace the day after Christmas. Released in 1983, it was based on his own television film, Quincy's Quest, from 1979, in which Steele played Quincy and Mel Martin played Quincy's girlfriend doll, Rebecca.
On 7 November 2019, Steele was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the British Music Hall Society, at a Celebratory Luncheon in Mayfair's Lansdowne Club. Those paying tribute to his then 63 years and 2 days in show business included Sir Tim Rice, Wyn Calvin MBE and Bill Kenwright CBE.
In May 2020, Steele announced a new project which he had been working on titled 'Breakheart,' which was available exclusively online throughout May. Announced via a specially recorded video during the COVID-19 lockdown, 'Breakheart' was a seven-episode audio thriller, written by Steele and set during the Second World War. A new episode was released each day for a week.
Following the re-release of ‘Breakheart’ for the 2020 festive period, Steele also released a specially recorded festive tale ‘The Christmas Mystery of Muchhope.’
Steele was born in Bermondsey, London. His father was Thomas Walter Hicks, and his mother was Elizabeth Ellen Bennett; they had married in 1933, in Bermondsey. There is a London Borough of Southwark blue plaque on Nickleby House, in the Dickens Estate in Bermondsey, commemorating Steele.
- Kill Me Tomorrow (1957)
- The Tommy Steele Story (1957)
- The Duke Wore Jeans (1957)
- Tommy the Toreador (1959)
- Light Up the Sky! (1960) known as Skywatch in the US
- It's All Happening (1963) known as The Dream Maker in the US
- Half a Sixpence (1967)
- The Happiest Millionaire (1967)
- Finian's Rainbow (1968)
- Where's Jack? (1969)
- Twelfth Night (1970) (made for TV)
- Tommy Steele in Search of Charlie Chaplin (1971) (TV special)
- The Yeomen of the Guard (1978) (made for TV)
- Quincy's Quest (1979)
- his mother's maiden name
- Roberts 2006
- Tobler 1992, p. 8
- Davies, Caroline (1 April 2012). "New faces on Sgt Pepper album cover for artist Peter Blake's 80th birthday". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 1133/4. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
- The Herald 2015 sfn error: no target: CITEREFThe_Herald2015 (help)
- Tommy Steele International Fan Club 2008 sfn error: no target: CITEREFTommy_Steele_International_Fan_Club2008 (help)
- Tobler 1992, p. 38
- Tobler 1992, p. 32
- Tobler 1992, p. 43
- Tobler 1992, p. 71
- See entries under Colin Hicks and Terry Dene.
- Official Charts 2009
- Most Popular Film of the Year. The Times (London, England), Thursday, 12 December 1957; p. 3; Issue 54022
- "Tommy Steele Off on a Third Career" by Norman Mark Chicago Daily News Service. The Washington Post, 27 February 1968: C6.
- Australian Women's Weekly 1960
- "News in Brief". The Times (London, England) 31 December 1968: 2. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 12 July 2012.
- Tobler 1992, p. 225
- The Yeomen of the Guard 1978 at IMDb
- Cavanagh 2007, p. 390
- Cavanagh 1996, pp. 213–214
- Steele 1983
- Steele 1983b
- "Download Lionel Bart Digital Sheet Music and Tabs". free-scores.com.
- "London Remembers: Tommy Steele". Retrieved 21 November 2020.
- British Pathé 1960 sfn error: no target: CITEREFBritish_Pathé1960 (help)
- The Scotsman 2006 sfn error: no target: CITEREFThe_Scotsman2006 (help)
- "No. 47723". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1978. pp. 9–12.
- "No. 63135". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 October 2020. p. B2.
- "Birthday Honours 2020: Marcus Rashford and Joe Wicks honoured alongside key workers". BBC News. 10 October 2020. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
- Australian Women's Weekly (21 December 1960). "Tommy stoops to conquer". p. 76.
- British Pathé. "Tommy Steele Marries Anne Donague".
- Cavanagh, Terry (1996). Public Sculpture of Liverpool. Public Sculpture of Britain. Liverpool UP. ISBN 978-0853237112.
- Cavanagh, Terry (2007). Public Sculpture of South London. Public Sculpture of Britain. Chicago UP. ISBN 978-1846310751.
- Cleland, Gary (23 April 2008). "Did Elvis Presley visit Tommy Steele in London?". Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 26 April 2008.
- London Gazette (29 December 1978). "O.B.E." Supplement 47723. p. 12.
- Official Charts (2009). "Tommy Steele". Archived from the original on 3 April 2015.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). Guinness World Records. p. 527. ISBN 978-1904994107.
- Steele, Tommy (1983). The Final Run. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0002227094.
- Steele, Tommy (1983b). Quincy. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0330281263.
- Steele, Tommy (2006). Bermondsey Boy: Memories of a Forgotten World. Michael Joseph. ISBN 978-0718149727.
- Beacon, Brian (28 August 2015). "Britain's first pop star Tommy Steele on six decades in showbiz". The Herald. Archived from the original on 27 October 2016.
- "Rock on Tommy". The Scotsman. 10 September 2006. Archived from the original on 28 January 2018.
- Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years. Hamlyn. ISBN 978-0600576020.
- Tommy Steele International Fan Club. "Tommy Steele Biography". Archived from the original on 5 September 2008.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
- Tommy Steele International Fan Club. "Tommy Steele Discography". Archived from the original on 29 September 2007.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tommy Steele.|
- Tommy Steele at IMDb
- Tommy Steele at AllMovie
- Tommy Steele at the TCM Movie Database
- Tommy Steele at the Internet Broadway Database
- Tommy Steele at the British Film Institute
- Tommy Steele discography at Discogs
- www.45rpm.org.uk (2003). "Tommy Steele". Archived from the original on 2 February 2004.
- BBC (23 January 2004). "The man who brought rock to Britain". Archived from the original on 17 May 2004.
- The Stage, Nick Smurthwaite (7 November 2005). "Scene stealer – Tommy Steele". Archived from the original on 11 June 2011.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
- Biography at Rockabilly.nl
- Tommy Steele's appearance on This Is Your Life