Tommy Steele

Active - 1946 - 2010  |   Born - Dec 17, 1936   |   Genres - Musical, Comedy, Mystery, Crime, Adventure

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Biography by Hal Erickson

England's first rock 'n' roll star, London-born Tommy Steele held down several jobs before forming a "skiffle" trio with future Oliver composer Lionel Bart and Mike Pratt. While performing for shillings-and-pence at the 2I Coffee Club, Steele was discovered by agent Larry Parnes. Thanks to Parnes' tireless promotional efforts, Steele quickly rose to R 'n' R Valhalla with such hits as "Singing the Blues," "Water Water" and "Shiralee." He made his film debut in 1956, and within a year was starring in his own biopic, The Tommy Steele Story (U.S. title: Rock Around the World). Eventually outgrowing the "Britain's Elvis" tag, Steele branched out to the legitimate stage in 1960. His best theatrical showing was the title role in Half a Sixpence, a 1963 musical adaptation of H.G. Wells' Kipps. During the 1960s, Steele played to SRO houses in London and Vegas, and was starred in several American-financed movie musicals, including The Happiest Millionaire (1967), Half a Sixpence (1968) and Finian's Rainbow (1968). Though he hasn't made a film since 1969, Steele has kept busy with theatrical revues, club dates and TV specials. In 1974, Tommy Steele wrote his autobiography, My Life, My Songs.

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