He was born Terence (Terry) Nelhams-Wright in Acton in West London. He was unaware that his real surname was Nelhams-Wright until he applied for a passport and obtained his birth certificate. He was known as Terry Nelhams in his early life.
Adam Faith was one of Britain's early pop stars. His first hit, "What Do You Want", came in 1959, and with subsequent songs like "Poor Me" "Don't that Beat All" and "Someone Else's Baby" he established himself as a serious rival to Cliff Richard in British pop music. His style and looks were in complete contrast to Cliff's, offering a real alternative for the teenage market. Like most contemporary pop singers, he did not write his own material, and much of his early success was attributable to his partnership with John Barry.
Faith's brand of sometimes rather twee pop ("Lonely Pup (In a Christmas Shop)") became less popular through the 1960s in the face of competition from groups like the Beatles, and he began an alternative career as an actor. While still a musician he had appeared in films such as Beat Girl (1961), but now he concentrated on acting in the theatre. In the 1970s he went into music management, managing Leo Sayer among others.
He appeared in the 1970s television series Budgie, about an ex-convict, but after a car accident as a result of which he almost lost a leg, his career suffered something of a decline. It restarted in 1975 when he landed a major role as the manipulative manager of rock star David Essex in the film Stardust. In the early 1990s, Faith had another hit TV series in Love Hurts with Zoe Wanamaker.
In the 1980s Adam Faith's interests moved from show business to finance and he became a financial investments advisor. In 1986 he was hired as a financial journalist, by the Daily Mail and its sister paper the Mail on Sunday. He also had an involvement with the television Money Channel. But the channel proved to be an unsuccessful venture and closed down in 2001. Adam Faith was declared bankrupt owing a reported £32m.
He had had heart problems since 1986 when he underwent open heart surgery. He became ill after his stage performance in Stoke on Trent on the Friday evening and died in hospital of a heart attack early on Saturday morning, March 8, 2003.
Michael Caine, (born Maurice Micklewhite) said that his mother worked with Adam's mother in their early days, but because each, of course, referred to her son by his real name, they never made the connection to each other's already well-known offspring.