It is generally agreed that Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly are two of the finest rock ‘n’ roll artists of all time. On the other hand, throughout the decades of the 1950s and 1960s, there was another artist named Tommy Steele who had the potential to be just as successful.
The native Londoner shot to fame in the middle of the 1950s when his band “The Steelmen” achieved significant success in the music charts. In point of fact, he spent a lot of time with Elvis during those days, and he kept a very well guarded secret about “The King” to himself for a number of years.
It was reported that Elvis Presley never visited England throughout his lifetime. On the other hand, Steele, who only just disclosed the truth about what happened, says it is not accurate at all.
Tommy Steele was one of the first, if not the first, to become famous in the rock and roll industry in England. Even in modern times, he is considered as a showbiz legend.
Steele not only rose from working on a ship to being a famous musician, but he also had the opportunity to meet and become close friends with one of the most influential figures in music history, Elvis Presley.
In point of fact, Steele and Presley have been keeping a significant secret between them for the last half a century. However, it has only just come to light.
But how did Tommy get his start in the entertainment industry in the first place? What went wrong, and why does he not give a damn about the money? Everything you need to know about him is right here!
Tommy Steel started off as a performer. He didn’t, however, truly make his first experience with the entertainment industry until he was in his late teens.
Early years of Tommy Steele
Thomas Hicks, who was born on December 17, 1936, in Bermondsey, London, England, grew up with his two parents in a working-class home. He went through a difficult time as a young kid during which he spent a lot of time in the hospital.
Steele was diagnosed with porphyria, a neuropathic condition that affects the stomach.
“I was imprisoned in a hospital bed for three or four years throughout the war”, he recalled. “Only when these red spots on my ankles burst did the doctors understand I had King’s Disease”.
Even though he later experienced cardiomyopathy and meningitis, Steele was successfully treated by medical professionals and had the entire world at his feet.
Tommy believed he had plenty of time to make up for having spent years in the hospital bed. His parents often took him to the London Palladium to watch performances, so he had grown up being fascinated by the entertainment industry.
“I was astounded. By the time the curtain went up, “gods” were entering the stage because it was so luxurious and magnificent.
Tommy’s passion with the theater had a drawback even if he enjoyed watching.
“Not because I didn’t love this world”, he explained, “but rather because I did so deeply and couldn’t appear on stage because I wasn’t a child star like Mickey Rooney. I didn’t believe it was possible to be English and successful. As soon as I boarded the Bermondsey bus, I forgot about the dream”.
The desire to work in show business was still there in the back of his mind. As a young child, he sang at various gatherings, and when he joined the Merchant Navy at age 16, he continued to sing on the board.
He learned three chords from another sailor, and with these, he was able to perform almost every country song ever composed.
Steele went all around the globe before finally settling down in the United States. This was a momentous occasion for him since it allowed him to attend his very first country show in West Virginia. The one and only Buddy Holly was there performing. Tommy Steele became addicted.
“When we arrived in New York, I purchased the sheet music to a large number of rock and roll tunes, and by the time we came back to London, I was able to play them all.”
It was evident that Steele had ability, and only days after landing in England, he performed on stage at the 2i’s Coffee bar in Soho, which is located in London. During this time period, rock ‘n’ roll wasn’t particularly popular in London at all. Steele was the one who brought about the transformation. After hearing Blue Suede Shoes in the United States, he made the decision to play it in the local coffee shop. People were taken aback since they had never seen anything even similar to it before.
His life went in a different direction at that point. In October of 1956, only a few weeks after he gave his debut performance, he strolled into Decca Records and recorded the song Rock With the Caveman. The track eventually made it all the way up to position number thirteen on the UK Singles Chart.
In 2008, Tommy told the Daily Record that, “All of a sudden, I’m the first rock ‘n’ roll singer since no one my age played guitar or could sing country in England.”
Tommy Steele was a member of the Merchant Navy, although he did not do any active duty in the military. According to his book, the reason he was unable to pass his military physical examination was because he suffered with flat feet.
Instead, he was able to devote his whole attention to his music, and soon after the release of his first song, he saw a rapid rise in the success of his career. Elvis Presley traveled in Scotland in 1960. Elvis made a stop at the Prestwick airport on his way home from military duty in Germany. This was recognized as the only occasion “the King” visited the UK.
In reality, however, it wasn’t the case at all, and Tommy knew it for years. It was revealed that Elvis Presley had visited the UK in 1958, two years prior. The same year, “The King,” who had already become a big worldwide hit, had appeared in the movie King Creole.
Elvis always required military protection to keep the fervent followers away.
Steele’s lifelong friend and producer shared the story on BBC Radio 2 that the two artists first met in 1958 and embarked on a sightseeing trip of London after their first meeting. “I remember [Tommy] telling me about Elvis coming to England very quietly. Tommy is a very private guy who does not want to talk about his past. It is only because of me that he continues to bring it up.” Kenwright told The Guardian.
Steele, on the other hand, maintained a high level of secrecy while discussing the rumored meeting with Elvis with the Daily Mail.
He said that “what truly happened many years ago is something that should be kept a secret and cherished. It was an experience that was shared by two young guys who had the same passion for their music and the same excitement of doing something that had never been done before. I promised never to publicly discuss what happened, and I hate that it has somehow managed to ‘come into the light’. All I can do is hope that (Elvis) can forgive me,” he said.
We have high hopes that Tommy Steele’s brilliant career will continue to be remembered and celebrated for many years to come.
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