Bryan Adams Biography

Bryan Guy Adams, 5 November 1959, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. The unpretentious Adams developed into one of the most popular Canadian artists of the late 80s and 90s, and remains well known for his romantic ballads and classic rock songs.

Born in Canada of English parents, the young Adams grew up in a variety of countries as the son of a diplomat, mostly in Europe and the Middle East. Back in Canada, his solo career commenced in 1978 (having previously worked with Sweeney Todd, who released one album, 1977’s If Wishes Were Horses) when he began writing songs with Jim Vallance, a former member of Prism, who was keen to retire from live work but not from songwriting. Some of these early collaborations were recorded by Loverboy, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Bonnie Tyler and others. In 1978, Adams signed a recording contract with A&M Records’ Rondor Music, assembling a band that included Vallance on drums, plus Keith Scott (lead guitar) and Dave Taylor (bass). Their debut single ‘Let Me Take You Dancing’ became an unlikely club hit, although the record bared no resemblance to Adams’ future work as it was a remix of a demo with a speeded-up vocal. The single was followed by a self-titled album (which featured a cameo from Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter of Steely Dan).

Adams spent 1982 touring with Foreigner (whose Lou Gramm guested on the forthcoming album), the Kinks and Loverboy. The resultant You Want It, You Got It scraped into the lower regions of the US charts and garnered the minor radio hit ‘Lonely Nights’. A third album, Cuts Like A Knife, released in 1983, was Adams’ breakthrough, reaching number 8 and going platinum in the USA (although it did not chart in the UK until three years later). It saw Vallance leave, to be replaced by Mickey Curry, though he maintained his songwriting partnership with Adams. The first single from the album, ‘Straight From The Heart’, also made the US Top 10 with the help of MTV airplay, and two follow-up singles, ‘Cuts Like A Knife’ and ‘This Time’, reached the Top 20 and Top 30, respectively. Adams’ fourth album, Reckless, was issued towards the end of 1984 and topped the Billboard album chart. It also gave him his first major UK chart placing, reaching number 7, while the singles ‘Run To You’ (US number 6/UK number 11) and ‘Somebody’ (US number 11/UK number 35) further established Adams as a hitmaker. He enjoyed a US number 1 in mid-1985 with ‘Heaven’, the b-side of which was ‘Diana’, a tribute to the UK princess, which helped to create the tabloid headline ‘Princess Di Flirts With Canadian Rock Star’.

Adams was introduced by actor Jack Nicholson at the July 1985 Live Aid concert in Philadelphia, though UK audiences had to cope with transmission problems. He also co-wrote (with Vallance) and helped to perform the Canadian benefit record for Ethiopia, ‘Tears Are Not Enough’. The defiant and celebratory ‘Summer Of ’69’ returned him to the Top 10 in the US and he ended a successful year by duetting with Tina Turner on ‘It’s Only Love’ (though there was one further, bizarre release in December, when he coupled the festive ‘Christmas Time’ with ‘Reggae Christmas’). His fifth album, Into The Fire, released in March 1987, became a Top 10 hit in both the USA and UK, boasting songs of a more political bent, informed by Adams’ charity work and tours in support of Amnesty International. It also saw the final effort of the Adams/Vallance songwriting partnership, and the end of a five-album tenure with producer Bob Clearmountain. ‘Heat Of The Night’ provided Adams with his fifth US Top 10 hit, although subsequent single releases fared less well.

Indeed, the late 80s proved a comparatively tranquil time for the artist, as he took stock of his career and waited for a window in producer Mutt Lange’s diary. He did, however, contribute to records by Mötley Crüe, Belinda Carlisle, Charlie Sexton and others. In 1988, he guested at the Nelson Mandela birthday party concert at Wembley Stadium in London, and in 1990 appeared with Roger Waters and others at the special Berlin performance of The Wall. All this was eclipsed, however, by the hugely successful 1991 album Waking Up The Neighbours that included Adams’ contribution to the 1991 Kevin Costner movie, Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves. ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’ was a phenomenal chart success, topping the UK singles listings for an incredible 16 weeks, the longest run since Frankie Laine’s 18-week domination with ‘I Believe’ in 1953; it also sold three million copies and hit the number 1 position in the USA and several other countries, becoming the bestselling single of that year and garnering Adams an Oscar nomination. The follow-up, ‘Can’t Stop This Thing We Started’ (US number 2/UK number 11), and another powerful ballad, ‘Thought I’d Died And Gone To Heaven’ (US number 13/UK number 8), were also commercial successes. The aforementioned singles featured on Waking Up The Neighbours, which underwent no less than 18 months in production before topping the UK charts. ‘Please Forgive Me’ extended Adam’s run of UK/US Top 10 successes in late 1993. It was followed by ‘All For Love’, a collaboration with Sting and Rod Stewart for the 1993 movie The Three Musketeers, which became another major hit on both sides of the Atlantic (US number 1, UK number 2). In 1994, Adams undertook a major tour of South-East Asia (in the process becoming the first Western hard rock artist to visit Vietnam since the end of the war) and bought a house in London.

Adams’ latter-day commercial breakthrough may have diminished his stature in the eyes of those fans who once made up the main constituency of his followers, but as a performer and songwriter the greater body of his work remains firmly within the rock tradition. Those who do subscribe to the fact that he is a ‘rocker’ must have been perplexed by the Spanish tempo and lightweight Lange/Adams/Kamen song, ‘Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?’ (from the movie Don Juan De Marco), which topped a number of charts around the world in the summer of 1995 and garnered Adams his second Oscar nomination. The following year’s 18 ’Til I Die album attempted to restore his rocker image with limited success, although it generated the hits ‘The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You’ and ‘Let’s Make A Night To Remember’. The soundtrack duet with Barbra Streisand, ‘I Finally Found Someone’, reached the US Top 10 later in the year, but subsequent contract problems with his American label (Interscope Records) effectively put Adams’ chart career on hold in that territory. The MTV Unplugged album, taped at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, spawned the European hit singles ‘Back To You’ and ‘I’m Ready’. On A Day Like Today and ‘When You’re Gone’, a high profile duet with Melanie C. from the Spice Girls that reached UK number 3 in December 1998 and spent 10 weeks in the Top 10, helped re-establish Adams’ commercial profile.

A recording hiatus followed, during which time Adams enjoyed success as a celebrity photographer. In 2002 he photographed Queen Elizabeth II for her Golden Jubilee (the image was later used on a postage stamp). Later in the year he released his first studio album in four years, collaborating with composer Hans Zimmer on the soundtrack to the animated movie Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron. Adams’ next album, Room Service, was released in Europe in late 2004.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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