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Bermondsey Boy: Memories of a Forgotten World [Illustrated] [Hardcover]

Tommy Steele
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Sep 2006
Surrounded by docks and sitting on the South-East of the Thames 1930's Bermondsey was a thriving place. And it was here that Thomas Hicks was born. It wasn't until much later that this Bermondsey boy would become known as Tommy Steele. Saturdays as a young boy were spent gazing at the colourful posters for the Palladium, or wandering up Tower Bridge Road to Joyce's Pie Shop for pie and mash. He brings to life with extraordinary vividness what it was like to live through the devastation of the Blitz - having to run to the shelter naked in the middle of the night wondering as each bomb crashed down, which street had taken a hit. His beloved father Darbo was a tipster who worked the crowds at the races by day, and by night was a doorman at The Nest, an infamous watering hole for entertainers and his mother Betty, was a part-time tin basher at Feavers box factory. The Hicks household was full of love and laughter but also struck by tragedy with the loss of three children. Aged fifteen, Tommy joined the merchant navy and it was here he began singing and performing for his fellow seamen and his natural ability as an entertainer soon made him a favourite. Whenever he was ashore in the States, Tommy would listen to the latest music and soon became hooked on the rock n'roll movement that was taking America by storm. From Tommy's humble beginnings, to life at sea and finally a life as a performer, "Bermondsey Boy" is a colourful, charming and deeply engaging memoir from a much-loved entertainer.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Joseph Ltd; illustrated edition edition (7 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718149726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718149727
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 314,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Tommy Steele grew up in Bermondsey. After a short spell in the merchant navy he rose to fame in 1956 as Britain's first home-grown rock n'roll star. He went on to have a long career in stage and film musicals including Half A Sixpence, Hans Anderson, Singing in the Rain, Finian's Rainbow to name but a few, and most recently as the star of Scrooge at the London Palladium. He lives in South-East London.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
The summer of 1946 was a full year after the end of the Second World War, and for me as a nine-year-old nothing much had changed in London. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a boy, what a book! 16 Sep 2006
I requested this book for my birthday last week and what a week it has been. I have laughed, cried and found myself slipping into an age long gone, mainly due to the wonderfully descriptive writing and the sheer happiness that oozes from the pages. There are sad moments too, the auther recalling how he lost younger sibblings. His strong loving mother, struggling to make ends meet, and his delightful father were described with such conviction I almost felt I could hear their voices. A really lovely book recalling his life upto the early 60's. A must read for anyone with a hunger for nostalgia and maybe also a soft spot for Tommy.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wasnt sure at first / Chris Spain 1 Oct 2006
what a brilliant book,I was hooked from the begining,I had no intention of ordering this book it appeared in my basket my mistake,but I am glad it did.What a colourful like Tommy Steele has led,and he has left you wanting more.If there is a sequal I will difinately buy it.I love reading autobiographys but this is the best I have read.Buy it
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tommy Terrific! 6 Oct 2006
By Nich
At turns comic, tragic, adventurous, thrilling, romantic, always heartfelt, always life-affirming, even life-after-life-affirming, this page-turner is just the sort of experience any fan would expect whenever experiencing Tommy Steele. Sure hope another book is forthcoming, picking up where this one left off.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read 28 Dec 2006
By Mary R
I was given this book for Christmas. I read it in a day - couldn't put it down. Unlike with some autobiographies, I felt this book was all true. I learnt a lot about Tommy Steele which I didn't know and his descriptions of life in London during World War II are very moving. This book made me laugh out loud and also cry. You must read it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Knowing Tommy 8 Jun 2009
Living in Soho I got to know Tommy, and Terry Deane and Edna Savage, Adam Faith plus others of that scene, the book was great for me as it evoked so many memories of my youth and times when we really had no other cares than "going for a coffee at the 2 I's". My dad had a pub there so we had some really good sessions there also it really was "the best of times"

I still think that Tommy is one of the most underrated entertainers, he can (and does) do anything. He has never lost that boyish charm or swagger and always maintains that sincerity. It comes out so well in the book along with all the stories of his family and his growing up. They are his memories and while some differ from mine, thats what makes the book so good. our memories are all our own, and the pictures that they make are also solely ours. The book is factual and honest, interesting and funny and sad and has all the elements that make it a good read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
'Bermondsey Boy' the Tommy Steele autobiography.
I was born three years after the war finished but there was still rationing on certain things and times were hard. Tommy Steele's wonderful book brings back the even harder years before my birth and he writes with such passion and warmth.
I can remember Dad bringing home 78's and playing them on his beloved radiogram,'Singing The Blues', 'Nairobi', 'Handful Of Songs' with the infectious 'Water Water' on the flip side. It was a wonderful time to be brought up and I relished and identified with many things in the book, it was like a nostalgia trip for me. Our mothers seemed to have been separated at birth and I dearly miss mine too.
Tommy Steele has been an amiable presence in practically the whole of my life and I thoroughly enjoyed his account of his early years. I am a no nonsense Yorkshireman and he reduced me to blubber when Darbo pressed the half crown into his palm at the end of the book.
I do hope there will be a sequel
Michael Baxter, Hull, East Yorkshire
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great readable autobiography 3 Oct 2007
This book will surprise you. Pleasantly, I may add!
After reading the back cover in the book shop, it appealed to me, as I am interested in reading about WW2. But, I didn't know how well written, and thoroughly absorbing Tommy Steele's 'child to manhood' would be, particularly his days as a merchant sailor, before he found fame.
Like Norman Wisdom's autobiography, it's a 'must have' to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read 16 July 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Really enjoyed reading this. I expected it to mostly consist of his musical career, but that came very near to the end. For the most part it told the story of his childhood,his close relationship with his parents and his experiences in the Merchant Navy. A very well written,interesting and fun to read story.I read it over 2 days and would certainly recommend it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
This is the second time I have read Tommy Steele's autobiography. I enjoyed it just as much this time. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Mrs Wendy Whitmarsh
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleaseantly surprised
One of the best autobiographies I have read recently-can't wait for the next instalment .Is there one?Brought back happy memories.
Published 3 days ago by L. Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars never realised
I'm not a big fan of biographies but this book I made me think that I hope Tommy writes a sequel.
Published 6 days ago by bigspender
5.0 out of 5 stars It rocks!
A fascinating insight into the early years of rock n roll. From start to finish I couldn't put this book down & really hope there is a sequel.
Published 11 days ago by Izzy
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
Couldn't put it down once I started it . Very true reminisces of bermondsey especially during the Blitz. Also times in the Merchant navy very true really 5 *
Published 14 days ago by liltrux
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Read
Recommended read, written in easy and interesting style, unfortunately it doesn't mention his 'Pop Star' career mostly about his growing up.
Published 14 days ago by Dawnbreaker
5.0 out of 5 stars Ecellent Read
Knew about this book but had never got round to buying it. So glad that I finally noticed it on the listings.
Published 16 days ago by Patsy A
5.0 out of 5 stars should be read by all teenagers
This is the most amazing book and should be part of the school curriculum to show that it is hard work and determination that gets you to where you want to go. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. Rogers
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
Great read and very, very interesting life Tommy Steele had before he came into the public eye - a great read and very interesting
Published 1 month ago by madearie
5.0 out of 5 stars bermondsey boy memories of a forgotten world
i am the same age as tommy steele and find this book very interesting, and very well written. I have always followed his carier, well done tommy
Published 1 month ago by brenda whitecuddles
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