|Tommy Steele & The Steelmen, Rags To Riches
On December 17th 1936 Thomas Hicks, the eldest of Elizabeth Ellen and Thomas Walter's four children, is born in Mason Street in the South London suburb of Bermondsey. Evacuated during the Blitz, he returns to Bermondsey and attends Bacon's School for Boys, leaving as soon as the law allowed at the age of fifteen. He joined the merchant navy and after that he formed his first band, the Skiffle group "The Cavemen" , with Lionel Bart and Mike Pratt. He was discovered by his soon-to-be Manager John Kennedy in September 1956 while singing at the famous Two I's coffee bar in Old Compton Street, Soho, London. As Tommy Steele he made his stage debut at Sunderland on the 5th November 1957 and had his first experience of a 'book show' in pantomime at Liverpool in 1957. The following Christmas he played Buttons in Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" at the London Coliseum and since then his career has followed a varied and ever-developing course, embracing almost all areas of the entertainment world.
His major stage musical was "Half a Sixpence", but Tommy appeared is more theatre productions than I can remember. His one-man show - "An Evening with Tommy Steele" ran for fourteen months at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 1979/80 and is in the Guinness Book of Theatre Facts and Feats as "the longest running one-man show in West End history". He made his film debut in 1956 and his films include "The Tommy Steele Story" (also known as "Rock Around the World") and featured in many films after that. Among his best remembered rock 'n' roll discs are "Rock With The Cavemen", "Give! Give! Give!", "Teenage Party" (also recorded by The Blue Cats in 1980), "Elevator Rock", Rebel Rock" and Two Eyes".
In 1974 he composed and recorded an autobiographical cycle of twelve songs under the title of "My Life, My Song". Another of his talents was shown in the album sleeve for this recording which was illustrated with twelve of his own paintings and these together with other works were shown in a one-man exhibition at the Christopher Wade Gallery. He has also developed a talent as a sculptor and two of his major works are on public display; "Bermondsey Boy" at the Rotherhithe Civic Centre and "Eleanor Rigby" which he gave to the City of Liverpool as a tribute to the Beatles. His talent for writing first manifest as a writer and co-writer of his own television specials which led to the publication of "Quicy" a story for children, by Heinemann in hardback and Pan/Piccolo in paperback. He also wrote a best-selling novel for adults "The Final Run" published by Collins in hardback and Fontana in paperback.
Source: various Internet resources and album covers.