Tommy Steele


Tommy Steele Leads The Way

Long before the rise of the Beatles, the British music industry had its share of stars. One such star, often overshadowed by the Fab Four's global dominance, is Tommy Steele. Born as Thomas Hicks on December 17, 1936, in Bermondsey, London, Steele would go on to become Britain's first homegrown rock 'n' roll star.

Steele's entry into the music scene was far from conventional. He first worked as a merchant seaman, where he developed a liking for country and folk music. A chance meeting with a young American guitarist onboard one of his voyages sparked his interest in rock 'n' roll.

In the mid-1950s, Steele stepped into the limelight with talent not only for music but also for entertaining. He swiftly became the brightest star in UK pop culture, showcasing an inclusive approach to music that blended Rock 'n' Roll with skiffle and traditional pop.

Steele's rise to fame was meteoric. His debut single, "Rock with the Caveman," released in 1956, made the top 20 in the UK Singles Charts. This early success established Steele as a major music player, paving his path to becoming one of the most prominent stars in the pre-Beatles era.

Tommy Steele Scores With "Singin' the Blues"


Later that year, Tommy Steele had his first chart-topping hit – "Singing The Blues." This success marked him clearly as a major figure in the nascent British rock 'n' roll landscape. His music brilliantly straddled the line between the American influence and a distinctly British sound.

The year 1957 saw Tommy Steele solidify his position in the UK music scene with a string of hits including "Water, Water" and "Little White Bull". These releases established him as a dynamic and versatile performer.

Tommy Steele the Actor

Apart from his music credentials, Tommy Steele also made a significant mark as an actor. He made his screen debut in 1957 with "The Tommy Steele Story," where he played himself. This started a trend of musicians also launching acting careers – one that is prevalent even today.

His subsequent movies, including "Tommy The Toreador" and "Half a Sixpence," expanded his popularity, leading to Tommy Steele becoming synonymous with British Rock 'n' Roll in the late 50s. His acting was well-received, leading to several nominations and awards in the years that followed.

Scene From "Tommy the Toreador"

As successful as he was in music, Steele's most significant contribution to British culture may have come from his acting. He was a pioneer amongst musicians-turned-actors, laying a path that many British and American musicians would later follow.

Steele's vibrant on-screen presence and smooth transition to acting played a major role in dismantling the stigma that musicians could not act. It was a significant impact of Tommy Steele that inspired a new generation of musicians to consider acting as a viable career.

In the ensuing decades, Tommy Steele's music career continued to thrive. He consistently achieved chart success, with 14 of his singles reaching the Top 40 charts – a testament to his musical versatility and charisma.

Despite the shift in music taste that came with the arrival of the Beatles, Tommy Steele's popularity endured. He adapted his music style to deliver hits even in the swinging sixties. His track "Little White Bull" from the film "Tommy The Toreador" is deservingly considered a classic in British music.

His records, loved by fans and critics alike, showcased his ability to imbue a foreign music style with a unique British identity. Steele’s music oozed charm and positivity, catering to an audience that was craving something fresh and exciting.

Besides his successful music and acting career, Tommy Steele carved out a respected career in theatre. In the mid-60s, he headlined in the all-time classic, "Half a Sixpence," which ran for over two years in London's West End and then transferred to Broadway.

Steele's music, films, and theatre career influenced an entire generation of British musicians and actors. He navigated the twists and turns of the entertainment industry, maintaining a high level of success through multiple decades, which is testament to his immense talent.

In recent years, Steele reignited his shows in the West End and continued to delight audiences with his performances. His vibrant personality, stirring performances, and evergreen talent ensure he remains an Icon of British pop culture to this day.

Through his illustrious career, Tommy Steele shattered stereotypes, championed Rock ‘n’ Roll in Britain, and paved the way for the Beatles and other British Invasion bands that would dominate the world stage in the years to come.

So, Tommy Steele isn't just a singer, actor, or entertainer. He is a trailblazer who left an indelible mark on British music and cinema. If one wishes to understand the breadth and depth of British Pop before Beatlemania, there is simply no overlooking Tommy Steele.

Scene From "The Tommy Steele Story


A Nice Tommy Steele Collection

Coming out in August 1983, this album has been a consistent seller since then.

Classic tracks, and an excellent set of some of Tommy's best music.

Side 1

1 Singing The Blues

2 Rock With The Caveman

3 Butterfingers

4 Come On, Let's Go

5 Water Water

6 The Only Man On The Island

7 Marriage Type Love

8 Light Up The Sky

9 Elevator Rock

10 Little White Bull

Side 2

1 A Handful Of Songs

2 It's All Happening

3 Happy Guitar

4 Shiralee

5 Knee Deep In The Blues

6 Nairobi

7 Tallahassie Lassie

8 She's Too Far Above Me

9 What A Mouth (What A North And South)

10 Flash, Bang, Wallop!

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Scene From "Half a Sixpence"