Tom Waite

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Tom Waite. Debut single Precious Love on Pye Records

Cardiff Club Singer

Before his New Faces appearance 23 year-old Tom Waite was an unknown singer in a Cardiff club. Immediately after winning his heat, and securing a place in the grand final, he had nine record companies on the phone wanting to sign him up.

Less than a week after the show aired on 10 November 1973, Tom was in London signing a recording contract with Pye Records.  The deal to sign the Airdrie born singer was formally announced just a few weeks after his victory in the Grand Final.

A Debut Single

He released his debut single, Precious Love, on 22 February 1974. The song was written by Robert Rupen, who went on to write a number of hits for Demis Roussos, and Stanislas Beldone, who also wrote Welcome Home for Peters & Lee. The single never made the Top 40 in the UK.

On both the 3 and 17 March 1974 he was back at the ATV Studios appearing on episodes of The Golden Shot, hosted by Charlie Williams.

UK Cabaret Tour

He continued to perform at cabaret venues in 1974, playing shows in Southend, Liverpool, Hull, Manchester, Nottingham and Bolton and also featured on TV shows across Europe, including France, Germany and Portugal.  Tom was also sought after for the lead role in a West End musical for late 1974, however the musical was never produced.

In July 1974, Tom explained to The Stage, “Following the New Faces everything just started happening fast and furious and that’s the way it’s been ever since.”  He also appeared on the lunchtime TV programme Songs That Stopped The Shows with a New Faces regular, Arthur Askey.

Take Away The Sunshine

August 1974 saw the second single release for Tom. Take Away The Sunshine, again released on the Pye record label, and once again failed to trouble the UK singles chart.

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Tom Waite. Repeat cabaret bookings throughout 1974. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

October 1974 saw Tom on the bill of Talk of the Midlands, with two other New Faces contestants, comedian Pete Conway and female vocalist Charlie James.

Cardiff club owner Roger Cruttenden was full of praise for the tall, dark and handsome six-footer, “Tom Waite is already among the most popular artistes ever to appear at New Tito’s. With his voice and good looks there is just no limit to how far he can go as far as I’m con cerned Tom Waite is a super star in the making.” With praise like that it’s no wonder Tom had five weeks of work at the Cardiff club in 1975.

Greatest Love

January 1975 saw the release of Tom’s third and final single release. Greatest Love was another track that never made the UK charts.  It seemed that Tom could not quite convert his superb club and cabaret success and rave reviews into record sales.

In March 1975 Tom brought the house down with his magnificent voice at the opening of Merlin’s, Plymouth where he shared the bill with Sandie Shaw. This Plymouth engagement came the same week his 21 year-old girlfriend, Vicki Harris, won the title of Miss England, picking up a prize of £250 and the chance to enter Miss United Kingdom.

In April 1975 Tom flew to Majorca to represent Great Britain at the International Gala Concert, the highlight of the Spanish Song Festival, before returning to the UK to continue a run of club booking that would keep him busy well into 1976.

Miss United Kingdom

In August 1975 Tom had reason to celebrate again when he was in the Blackpool audience to see his girlfriend, Malaysian born Vicki Harris, win the Miss United Kingdom title and carry off both the £3,000 first prize and a £2,000 contract from Mecca. Mecca, however, banned photos of the couple together as they’d had problems with boyfriends in the past and didn’t want to encourage them.  Unfortunately, a few days later, Tom was on the warpath when a stunt at a Mecca organised event, at the Kent County Show in Maidstone, resulted in Vicki being thrown from and trampled by a bull, causing cuts and bruises to her face and body.

Max Clifford

Without a hit single to follow his TV success Tom faded from the big time and he spent the summer of 1977 singing in Portugal. He set himself up with a new business associate, Max Clifford, who was convinced that although he wasn’t ready for the sudden leap into stardom before, he was going to make it the second time around.

Between 1980 and 1983 he was named as one of the many cabaret acts lined up to appear during the summer season at one of many Pontin’s Holiday Centres around the UK and Tom was still receiving great reviews in 1986 when following a show at Wakefield’s Roof Top Gardens it was reported that he “wouldn’t know a flat note if he slipped on one.”

19731229_TomWaite5In February 1991, some 17 years after his TV talent show winning performance Tom was still being billed as a New Faces winner in this advert for his show at The Montrose Club, taken from the Liverpool Echo, shows.

Tom reappeared in the mainstream media in 2014 during the trial of publicist Max Clifford, where he gave evidence about their visit to a Spanish resort in 1977.

Tom Waite’s appearances on New Faces

 

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