Tommy Steele: Youth will always rebel like I did

Britain’s “first rock n roll star” Tommy Steele believes youth will always rebel as he once did.

He felt that in the 1950s, his rock repertoire was like an “army” attacking the musical establishment.

The singer and actor enjoyed a meteoric rise with hits like Singing The Blues, which cast him as the UK’s first teen idol, and earned comparisons to Elvis Presley.

Tommy Steele Lifetime Achievement Award
Veteran entertainer Tommy Steele at a lunch event at the Lansdowne Club in Mayfair (Victoria Jones/PA)

Steele, born Tommy Hicks, believes that each generation will follow its own path, even if the routes to teenage rebellion are not as innocent as they once were.

Now 82, and still passionate about performing, the star has been honoured with lifetime achievement award by the British Music Hall Society.

The star, who conquered Broadway and the West End, believes despite the arrival of “fame for fame’s sake” and reality TV, parents never understand the kind of novelty which he pioneered.

Talking of his first thrust into fame, he told PA news agency: “You knew something was happening, because of the kids.

“You walked onto the theatre stage and the place used to go wild.

“They were going wild for me, but mostly for the music.

Tommy Steele Lifetime Achievement Award
Tommy Steele (centre) helping set up a press conference for the Festival of the City of London (PA)

“When you’re part of that it’s like you’re working with Napoleon, you’re going to attack, and you’ve got this army of songs behind you.”

Steele was handed his award by friend and chairman of Everton Bill Kenright, following speeches paying tribute to his lengthy career.

Despite enjoying seven decades in show business and seeing the entertainment landscape altered, he believes that some things never change.

He said: “There wasn’t any bad stuff about it, drugs or anything like that, it was just kids enjoying themselves

“The innocence of youth with always be there. But youth grows up.

“When I started you grow up at about 18, 19. Now you probably grow up at 16.

Tommy Steele Lifetime Achievement Award
Tommy Steele doing one of his performances as Scrooge at the London Palladium (Joel Ryan/PA)

“You grow up and you want to follow the things that, as a grown up, you want.

“It doesn’t change, youth is youth. When you’re young, you’re young, you have ideas, and you want to do things that mum and dad don’t understand.

“That’s youth, it will always be there.”

Steele rose from his origins in Bermondsey in south London to become a star of stage and screen, as well as penning books and working in sculpture.

The multi-talented veteran of show business said that he would never lose his desire to put on a show.

He said: “I can make them laugh, cry, make them get scared. If there’s people out there, the ambition is to be able to entertain them.

“If I’m around in a few years from now, with a script, or an idea, or a song, or a moment in the theatre, and I can entertain people… I’ll do it, I love it.”

Sir Tim Rice was among the grandees who attended the event in London where Steele was feted and given his award.