ANDREW VALENTE GETS AN EXCLUSIVE INSIGHT

NEWS of the death of Adam Faith was especially poignant for me because I got to know him in the early 60s when he was a frequent visitor to Palma. He was at the height of his pop–singing career in those days and his manager was a breezy brash and highly simpatica woman called Evie Taylor. Evie had a flat in Illetas and whenever she came out for a short stay she usually brought at least one of the several singers she represented. Apart from Adam there was Sandie Shaw and songwriter–musician–arranger Tony Hatch and his singing wife and fellow songwriter, Jackie Trent. My first encounter with Adam was at a distance – across a crowded patio, to be exact. It was the patio of the old Tirol biergarten in Calle Apuntadores, which was then run by Rudi, a rotund German who served the best potato salad on the island. I was then working as a freelance for London newspapers and one night was tipped off that Adam Faith was at the Tirol. What's more, he was with a pretty girl. In no time at all I was round at the Tirol which, this being summer, was packed tight. After a discreet search of the sea of faces from the sidelines, I saw Adam. And the girl he was with was extremely pretty. As always on these occasions, a picture is worth more than a thousand words – but I didn't have a camera with me. But even if I had had one, I wouldn't have wanted to rush out and take a few shots, thus scaring Adam and sending him off to another venue. But luck was initially on my side that night. In those days there were photographers who spent the night going round bars, restaurants and outdoor cafés taking pictures of happy couples on holiday. That night one of these itinerant photographers was at Tirol and I approached him and pointed out the couple I was interested in. But I said he had to take a picture as nonchalantly as possible, because I didn't want Adam to suspect that this was a picture for the press. Well, the photographer certainly obeyed my instructions and seemed to take forever to wander round the tables before he was finally in front of Adam.

The ploy worked, because Adam didn't suspect anything and carried on chatting to his new date after the photographer took a picture and walked away. But there was big disappointment in store for me. The photographer took only one shot and, as can be seen here, Adam's eyes are half shut and he seems to be scowling and cursing the photographer in a string of four letter words. I didn't think any of the London papers would be interested in such an unattractive shot of Adam, so I didn't submit it to anyone...which means it is being published for the first time about 40 years later. The girl Adam was with was an airline stewardess called Almudena who came from a wealthy Madrid family. The second time I met Adam was at close range and across an empty room – in Evie Taylor's Illetas flat. Evie was a shrewd businesswoman and she was well aware of the value of publicity in the national press, so she always encouraged her singers to co–operate with journalists and photographers. Which suited me perfectly. On that first meeting with Adam at Evie's flat, Adam was in a white bathrobe and white slippers, so it was all talk and no pictures. I found him a charming and fascinating person with a wide range of interests that took in cultural pursuits as well as the business of making money. On that first meeting it came out that he was interested in art and was actually buying paintings at galleries and auctions. At that time an American portrait painter called Joseph Diftler was living in Palma. He was unusual in that he painted in oils on black velvet. I thought Adam might like his work and took him along to see it. Adam was very interested and bought two Diftler paintings. Several years later, an English magazine did one of those 'at home with' articles on Adam and among the pictures of his house there was one of the living–room with a Joseph Diftler painting in a prominent position. Adam was a keen golfer, and one day he mentioned an ever–recurring problem he had on the golf course. It had nothing to do with slicing the ball or making his putts go down...it was all about getting his cigarette lit. Adam liked to smoke during a game, but on windy English golf courses, it was almost impossible to light a cigarette. I told him that Palma had the perfect lighter for him. I took him next day to a shop near the Borne that sold a simple Majorcan lighter which consists of a piece of rope with a flint and wheel attached. You hit the wheel with the heel of your hand until the sparks make the end of the rope glow. You then light your cigarette. It's a cheap lighter which was designed for people like fishermen or building site workers who have to light their cigarettes in inclement outdoor conditions. It's also ideal for golfers, because the windier the course, the more easily it lights up. Adam immediately saw the beauty of this lighter and was so delighted with it he bought half a dozen. There were no more visits to Evie's flat, so I never saw him again. The last personal memory I have of him was as he walked towards the Borne with his six bargain–priced Majorcan lighters, as happy as a child with a new toy.

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