Thomas William Hicks
also known as
was born on this day in 1936.
Tommy Steele is reputed to be Britain’s first teen idol and rock-and-roll star.
In 1957 his rendition of “Singing the Blues” catapulted Tommy to the top of the hit parade.
Although the whistling in the accompaniment is really irritating!
One of Tommy’s jobs was as a merchant seaman. But whenever he wasn’t working he sang and played guitar or banjo in two coffee houses in Soho, the 2i’s Coffee Bar and the Cat’s Whisker. Sometimes Tommy performed solo and at other times with Wally Whyton’s Vipers Skiffle Group.
Tommy found fame as the frontman for The Steelmen
a rock and roll band whose first single, “Rock With the Caveman”, reached number 13 in the UK Singles Chart in 1956.
A few months later, Tommy was filming his life story.
With his musical collaborators, Lionel Bart and Mike Pratt, Tommy wrote twelve songs in seven days. “The Tommy Steele Story” dramatised Tommy’s meteoric rise to fame.
The story is that Tommy works as bellboy until he injures his spine doing judo. In hospital he is given a guitar to help with his therapy and he starts to play to entertain patients and staff. He works on an ocean liner, performing in his spare time, and gets a job playing in a coffee bar. He is popular with audiences and gets a recording contract.
“The Tommy Steele Story” was the 13th most popular film at the British box office in 1957.
Tommy was also voted the seventh most popular star in Britain for that year.
1959 saw the release of “Tommy the Toreador”
in which Tommy plays a sailor from Liverpool who disembarks in Spain and tries his hand at bull fighting.
We saw the film at The Regal Cinema in Wakefield, Yorkshire and loved every minute of it.
My sister and I were word perfect in every verse of “Little White Bull”, the song we liked best in the film.
Our copy of the record was the second 45 rpm we owned.
(The first was “Walking Back To Happiness” sung by Helen Shapiro.)
Tommy’s cringe-making live performance of “Little White Bull” on this Perry Como Show in 1966 is a long way from rock-and-roll!
Actually the B side of “Little White Bull” stands the test of time much better.
Happy 81st Birthday, Tommy.
Thanks for reading my blog today.