October 14, 2022, 5:04 PM
Sir Tommy Steele is widely regarded as Britain’s first teen idol and rock and roll star.
As a teenager, Tommy was discovered at 2i’s Coffee Bar in Soho, London, and he was Britain’s first true rock hero when he scored a hit with ‘Rock with the Caveman’ in 1956. It helped pave the way to artists like Cliff Richard. , Adam Faith and Marty Wilde.
By the 1960s, Tommy branched out into other forms of entertainment and became an all-around star.
He appeared in various West End theater productions and starred in musical films including Half a sixpence, The happiest millionaire and Finian Rainbow.
Tommy has also worked as a songwriter, author and even a sculptor. At 85, he still performs today.
He was knighted in the 2020 Birthday Honors for his services to entertainment and charity, and granted freedom from the City of London in 2021.
How old is Tommy Steele and where was he born?
Born Thomas Hicks, Tommy Steele was born on December 17, 1936. He turned 85 in 2021.
He was born in Bermondsey, London. His father Darbo was a racing tipster and his mother Betty worked in a factory.
He had big dreams of being a star after his parents took him to the London Palladium, but “didn’t think you could be English and be a star”.
How did he get his first big break?
Tommy Steele held various jobs, including a period as a merchant seaman.
He also played guitar and banjo and sang at cafes in Soho.
He was serving in Norfolk, Virginia, America when he saw Buddy Holly perform live and decided to give up skiffle for rock and roll.
He was discovered in a cafe by freelance photographer John Kennedy, who thought Steele might be Britain’s answer to Elvis Presley.
Co-manager Larry Parnes had been incorrectly credited with originating the stage name “Tommy Steele”, but it was Steele himself who adapted the surname from his Scandinavian paternal grandfather, Thomas Stil-Hicks (pronounced Steel-Hicks).
What are his greatest songs?
Tommy Steele scored several big hits in the 1950s and early 1960s, including:
- Rock with the caveman
- Singing the Blues (a UK number 1)
- water water
- let’s go
- little white bull
- what a face
Was Tommy Steele married and does he have children?
Tommy Steele married his partner Winifred Ann Donoghue at St. Patrick’s Church, Soho Square, London in the spring of 1960.
The couple have a daughter, Emma Elizabeth, born in 1969. Emma has since become an interior designer.