There have been a number of famous and accomplished people who were either born in Southampton or who have lived there at some point in their lives.
Many of Southampton’s illustrious sons hail from the world of music. There’s Will Champion, the drummer of Coldplay, who was born in Southampton in 1978. Champion’s father, Timothy, is currently an archaeology professor at the University of Southampton, where his mother was also a professor. Champion went to the Cantell secondary school in Basset Southampton, before moving to the University College London to study anthropology. That’s where he would get together with his future band mates in Coldplay. Champion played the guitar growing up and names Tom Waits and traditional Irish folk music as among his early influences in music.
R&B singing sensation and songwriter Craig David is another Southampton product. He was born as Craig Ashley David in 1981 in the Holy Rood estate at the city centre. His father is Grenadian while his mother is Jewish-English. David, who has sold over 13million albums worldwide (2007), attended Bellemoor School. David is proud to be a Southampton FC fan and is happy to correct those who thinks he roots for Leeds United (as portrayed by Leigh Francis in the popular comedy T.V. show “Bo’ Selecta.” And how big has Craig David become. Singer Songwriter Elton John was quoted as saying, “If there is a better singer in England than Craig David, then I am Margaret Thatcher.”
BBC Radio One DJ Scott Mills also hails from Southampton, where he was born in 1974. He has made a name for himself in UK culture through his ‘drive time’ show on BBC Radio 1, dubbed as The Scott Mills Show. At the risk of losing his listener base, Mills admitted his homosexuality to the press in 2001. In 2007,the Independent on Sunday’s Pink List named Mills as the 41st most influential gay person in Britain
During the 17th century, Southampton was the birthplace of the “Father of English Hymnody,” Isaac Watts (July 17, 1674 – November 25, 1748). One of his best known works, O God Our Help In Ages Past, is the school hymn of the King Edward VI school in Southampton. It is also the peal of the Civic Centre clock tower. Watts is recognized as the first prolific and popular English hymn writer, with over 750 hymns to his name. Many of them are still being used today and have been translated into many languages. Watts attended the King Edward VI School, where one of the houses is now named in his honour. Moreover, he was also an accomplished theologian and logician, and a writer of many books and essays on these topics. A memorial of Isaac Watts stands at Westminster Abbey, the earliest surviving memorial built in his honour. On November 25, 2006, he was commemorated as a hymn writer in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church.
In the 19th century, Southampton produced another great artist, the British painter and illustrator, Sir John Everett Millais (June 8, 1829 – August 13, 1896), recognized as among the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
The son of a leading Jersey-based family, Millais distinguished himself by winning, at age 11, a spot at the Royal Academy, an unprecedented feat at the time for someone so young. In 1948, together with his academy contemporaries William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Millais put together the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in Millais own home.
The popular international comedian Benny Hill is also a product of Southampton, born as Alfred Hawthorn Hill in 1924. He attended the Tauntons School and, during World War II, was among the scholars who were moved to the Bournemouth School in East Way, Bournemouth. Upon graduation he was back at Southampton, in Eastleigh, where he worked as a milkman, driver, drummer and bridge operator, but could only break into the entertainment by working as an assistant stage manager. He would soon follow the steps of the great British music hall comedians, changing his name to Benny (in honour of his idol, Jack Benny) in the process,. Despite his thriving comedy career, Hill spent a large part of his life living with his mother in Westrow Gardens in Southampton.
Two famous radio and television personalities also trace their roots to Southampton — international radio presenter Andy Collins and naturalist TV presenter Chris Packham.
From the ranks of the armed forces, Southampton boasts of Admiral John Jellicoe (December 5, 1859-November 20, 1935), former commander of the British fleet and British Royal Navy admiral.
The exile, Juan Manuel de Rosas (1793-1877), a former dictator of Argentina, spent his last years in Southampton. Rosas was the head of Argentina from 1829 to 1852. He is remembered as one of Latin America’s first famous caudillos (powerful political-military leader).
In the realm of sports, Southampton counts among its sons the former England and Southampton F.C. football player Matthew Le Tissier, who has lived in the city since the 1980s. Other popular residents are Olympic athlete Iwan Thomas and former tennis player Wally Masur.