ADAM Faith was a man of pleasant outward appearance who nursed a burning inner energy that led him to spectacular successes in at least three fields: singing, acting, and business.

The son of a bus driver and an office cleaner, Faith was born Terence Nelhams on June 23, 1940, in Acton, London.

By 14 he held down four jobs and, desperate to get into showbiz, he left school the following year to work at Rank Studios as a messenger boy.

During his time at Rank, he formed a band called The Worried Men which performed in local clubs.

He became an assistant film editor at an advertising company but continued to pursue his love of singing.

The Worried Men secured a regular place at the 21 coffee bar in London's Soho which proved to be the launch pad for many pop legends, including Cliff Richard.

In 1958, the group was spotted by 6-5 Special producer Jack Good, who booked the singer twice on his show under his new stage name, Adam Faith. He released three singles, which all flopped, but eventually had a hit with What Do You Want in 1959, which stayed in the number one spot for four weeks.

Then followed a run of 11 top 20 hits over the next three years, including another number one, Poor Me.

During the 1960s, Faith was one of Britain's top three pop stars alongside Cliff Richard and Billy Fury. At the same time he launched his acting career, featuring in films Beat Girl and Mix Me A Person.

By 1967, Faith had amassed a small fortune in property. He had also taken on the the title role in the hugely popular 1970s series Budgie, in which he played a cockney lad just out of prison.

In that same year he married dancer Jackie Irving, and their daughter, Katya, was born in 1970. Faith continued to involve himself in the music industry and discovered Leo Sayer and produced albums for him and Roger Daltrey of The Who.

In August 1973, he survived a major car crash in which he sustained multiple injuries and almost lost a leg.

Two years later, he released an album entitled I Survive in reference to his accident but, although critically acclaimed, it had no impact on the charts.

Faith became a financial adviser in the 1980s and turned his hand to journalism, writing a financial column in the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday. He regularly held business meetings in the foyer of London's Savoy hotel.

But his career was put on hold in 1986, when he was found to have seriously blocked arteries and underwent open heart surgery.

The singer returned to acting and starred in the highly successful television show Love Hurts opposite Zoe Wannamaker in 1991, which ran into three series over three years.

He then took to the stage again, touring with the 1960s play Alfie in 1994 and played the starring role in the UK version of the Broadway musical A Chorus Line in 1996.

In 1999 he launched The Money Channel, a cable and satellite channel offering financial advice, but it hit money troubles itself and closed down in 2001. He was declared bankrupt in October 2002 after the venture was thought to have cost him (pounds) 32m.

Faith continued to act and played Jack in the sitcom The House That Jack Built with Gillian Taylforth.

Although he and his wife separated in 1995 after he had a couple of affairs, the couple were reunited last year.

Faith was once quoted as saying: ''Next to breathing, eating and drinking, the most important thing is money.

''And since you need money to eat and drink, you could say it's the most important thing after breathing.''

Faith's death, after a heart attack at his hotel in Stoke-on-Trent, shocked his friends.

Michael Parkinson said Faith was in the mould of a true English eccentric. He said: ''He was a remarkable human being. He was an extraordinary optimist, a great man to be with. He was always happy. He was a guy who was full of concern for other people. He talked about you, not himself. I don't think there's anyone who didn't like Adam Faith.

''He was prepared to give things a go. What this uneducated cockney boy achieved was remarkable.

''He had a great enthusiasm for life. I don't think he had a wasted moment. I shall miss him.''

Cilla Black, another major name in pop in the 1960s, said: ''Adam Faith was a pioneer in pop music and was also a great actor.''

Gerry Marsden, of Liverpool band Gerry and the Pacemakers, said Faith had the respect of everyone in the music business. ''He was a very nice guy, a very genuine person. We met him when we started and he was already established. But he was very, very polite and wished us all the best.''

Faith's agent and friend Alan Field praised the man he called ''Terry'' or ''Tel'' as one of the world's best communicators. He added: ''It could be a taxi driver in the street or a member of royalty--he was able to communicate with everybody at every level. He came through in the pioneering days of pop music and he really was a big icon along with Cliff Richard - they were the first wave of the British version of the pop music world.''

Another friend, David Courtney, Faith's drummer and later a record producer who helped discover the singer Leo Sayer, said: ''He was part of the institution of this country. He and Cliff (Richard) were household names to the British public. Everyone had a soft spot for Adam whether it was the guys, because he was one of the boys, or the girls, who fancied him.''

Alan Yentob, the director of drama, entertainment, and children's programmes at the BBC, where Faith worked throughout his career, said he would be greatly missed.

''It's very sad news. Adam was a hugely likeable man, always exuberant and a very dapper all-rounder. No-one could have had a more varied career than Adam Faith.''

Faith was due to appear early next year in a new season of the BBC's Murder in Mind films for television, alongside Jamie Theakston and Helen Baxendale.