Flash, Bang, Wallop… it’s Sir Tommy Steele! Veteran showbiz star beams with delight after receiving knighthood from Princess Anne
- Tommy Steele was told by Princess Anne that she ‘knew all about’ his career
- Sir Tommy said it was ‘highlight of the highlights’ of his 65 years in showbusiness
- He was considered Britain’s first rock’n’roll star and teen pop idol in the 1950s
Veteran entertainer Tommy Steele discovered an unexpected new fan yesterday – Princess Anne.
The Princess Royal told him she ‘knew all about’ his career as she knighted him at Windsor Castle.
Sir Tommy, 84, said it was the ‘highlight of the highlights’ of his 65 years in showbusiness.
In the 1950s, he was considered Britain’s first rock’n’roll star and teen pop idol, with hits including Singing The Blues earning comparisons to Elvis Presley.
He went on to star in films including the 1967 musical Half A Sixpence, in which – as well as the title track – he sang Flash, Bang, Wallop!
Sir Tommy Steele, 84, pictured with his honour, said Princess Anne revealing she knew all about his career was the ‘highlight of the highlights’ of his 65 years in showbusiness
The Princess Royal told him she ‘knew all about’ his career as she knighted him at Windsor Castle
Sir Tommy, born Thomas Hicks in Bermondsey, south-east London, in December 1936, was honoured for services to entertainment and to charity.
He said Princess Anne spoke to him about his career ‘and she knew all about it’, adding: ‘It has been like a very important first night in the theatre.
‘It is like you are blessed by something that has been happening for centuries and then all of a sudden, you find that as an actor you have got the part.’
Just four months before his first hit record, Rock With The Caveman (which he co-wrote with Lionel Bart), Steele, was a merchant seaman, travelling the world and teaching himself how to play a £1.50 guitar he’d bought from a fellow sailor.
His big break came in 1956 when, during shore leave, he was spotted singing and playing Elvis’s Blue Suede Shoes in a Soho coffee bar. He’d bought the sheet music weeks before in New York.
Days later, he was snapped up by record company Decca.
During his early days as a star, he ended up unconscious in Dundee Royal Infirmary after hundreds of fans bent his arm back and pulled out clumps of his hair in a frenzy.
He was made an OBE in 1980.
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