Famous People from Stoke
These days, when one speaks of famous people from Stoke-on-Trent, the first name that almost always pops into mind is that of pop superstar Robbie Williams. Not only has Williams become a household name and local hero in Stoke, he's also brought great prestige to the city as he has based a number of his songs on Stoke, either directly or indirectly. These include such well-known hits like "Burslem Normals" and "It's Only Us" as well as "Me and My Shadow," his duet with Jonathan Wilkes. His song "Angel" is believed to have been inspired by the gold angel that adorns Burslem Town Hall.
With more than 70 million records sold around the world, the most by any British solo artist, and with 15 BRIT and six ECHO Awards as well as a Grammy Award nomination under his belt, Williams has certainly done his share to be known as Stoke's most famous son. Williams was elected to the UK's Music Hall of Fame in 2004 and has been acknowledged as the UK's greatest artist of the 1990s.
After Williams, another popular musician who is readily associated with Stoke is Slash, the former lead guitarist of Guns N Roses and presently lead guitarist of Velvet Revolver. Widely considered to be one of the best rock guitarists in music history, Slash has done much to elevate Stoke's heritage in music. The English-American musician was actually born in Hamstead, but was raised in Stoke beginning at an early age.
In the realm of music, Stoke has produced many other famous sons and daughters, including DJ and producer Andy Moore, composer Havergal Brian, singer and music hall star Gertie Gitana, singer Patricia Leonard, banjoist Jem Finer of The Rogues, the group Broken Bones, punk band Discharge and Motorhead founder Lemmy.
Television is another area where Stoke has made more than its fair share of contributions, particularly by producing an extraordinarily high number of TV presenters and personalities. These include such famous names as Frank Bough of "Nationwide & Breakfast Time," Bruno Brookes of "Top of the Pops," Anthea Turner of "Blue Peter," Nick Hancock of "Room 101," and Peter Wyngarde of "Flamingoes Only Fly on Tuesdays."
Stoke is also quite proud of its contributions in the arena of sport. For instance, in a churchyard at the Hanley town centre stands a statue of Sir Stanley Matthews, the English football star who is considered to be one of the very best players that England has ever produced.
Matthews was such an outstanding player that he received his knighthood while he was still active in his sport, the first and still the sole footballer ever to earn that distinction. He was also the first recipient of the European Footballer of the Year award as well as the first Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year awardee. One only needs to consider Matthews colourful nicknames to realize his greatness - "The Magician" and "The Wizard of the Dribble." Matthews was so good and such a unique physical specimen that he was still active in England's top football division at age 50. To this day, Matthews is still regarded as one of the best dribblers of the ball that association football has ever seen.
Aside from Matthews, Stoke has produced another world-class athlete who is one of the best in his sport, Phil Taylor, a winner of 13 world darts championships and the most successful darts player in history. Born in Burstem in Stoke-on-Trent, Taylor has reigned as both PDC and BDO world champion. He has won the PDC world championship 13 times, capturing the top prize every year since 1995, except for 2003 and 2007. Taylor also won the BDO world championship in 1990 and 1992.
Other prominent sportsmen who hail from Stoke include world-class footballers Mark Bright and Garth Crooks, wicketkeeper Bob Taylor, golfer David Lynn, tennis player Andrew Foster, UFC fighter Ross Pointon, field hockey player Imran Sherwani, snooker players Dave Harold and Jamie Cope, and darts players Adrian Lewis and Ted Hankey, the latter also being a former world carts champion.
Finally, Stoke has also been a breeding ground for a number of heavyweights in the area of art and literature. British novelist Arnold Bennett, who some consider as the greatest realist writer of the 20th century, was born in Hanley and his novels were mostly based on everyday life in small towns particularly the small towns that comprised Stoke. Aside from Bennett, other writers whose roots can be traced back to Stoke include playwright Peter Whelan, poet Pauline Stainer, novelist and playwright Arthur Berry, poet John Wain, poet Elijah Fenton, and artist and poet Charles Tomlinson
Meanwhile, the list of renowned artists who hail from the city includes sculptors Arnold Machin and Sidney Tushingham and the famous master illusionist, Andrew Van Buren and actors Hugh Dancy ("Black Hawn Down"), Neil Morrissey ("Men Behaving Badly") and thespians Alan Lake, Hanley Stafford, Jonathan Wikes and Freddie Jones.