Singer, songwriter, guitarist
Bryan Adams “is arguably Canada’s brightest male star,” declared Nicholas Jennings in Maclean’s. His 1985 album Reckless has sold more than ten million copies—impressive by any standard—but, as Jennings pointed out, Adams has enjoyed wider distribution “than any Canadian in history.” He owes this distinction primarily to straightforward rock anthems like “Kids Wanna Rock” and ballads like “Heaven.” Though some critics have dismissed Adams as a lesser version of rocker Bruce Springsteen, lacking the substance that the latter infuses into his songs, others have praised Adams’s simplicity. “His music is about guys and girls. They’re melodies that stick in your head,” explained Pat Steward, Adams’s drummer, to Jane O’Hara in another Maclean’s article.
Adams was born on November 5, 1959, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. His parents were former British citizens, and his father, Conrad Adams, came from a military family. This background, coupled with the fact that Conrad Adams served in the Canadian diplomatic corps, meant a childhood of moving from place to place for Bryan. He attended strict military schools in several countries, including England, Austria, Portugal, and Israel. Adams recalled for Steve Pond in Rolling Stone that “the discipline that they taught me in school was good, because I was able to focus on things—but I didn’t realize that at the time. So I got sent to the headmaster a lot.” When he turned sixteen, however, his parents separated, and he lived with his mother, Jane, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Adams’s early musical development is echoed, if not narrated, in the lyrics of his 1985 hit “Summer of’69” : “I got my first real six-string/Bought it at the five-and-dime/Played it till my fingers bled/It was the summer of ’69,” as Pond quoted it. Though Adams was only ten at the time the song mentions, a year or two later, according to Pond, he did buy his first guitar and start learning to play it. As an adolescent, he pursued his rock goals with single-minded fervor. He explained to Pond: “In high school, I was too far into my music to even pay attention to girls.”
At the age of sixteen Adams quit school and used the money his parents had saved for his higher education to buy a grand piano. He joined bands and played in nightclubs, supplementing his income by washing dishes, selling pet food, and working in record stores. “One summer night in 1976,” Jennings related, “after hearing a local rock band perform in Surrey, B[ritish] C[olumbia], …Adams…strode boldly up to the group’s producer and announced that he could sing better than its vocalist. He got an audition—and the job.” Not long after that, Adams met up with Jim Vallance, who had formerly written songs for the Canadian rock group Prism. As
For the Record…
Full name, Bryan Guy Adams; born November 5, 1959, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada; son of Conrad (a diplomat) and Jane Adams.
Songwriter, with Jim Vallance, 1977—; recording artist, 1979—. Has performed in various charity concerts for organizations including Live Aid, Amnesty International, and the Prince’s Trust.
Addresses: Office-c/o 406-68 Water St., #406, Vancouver, British Columbia, R2H 2M2, Canada.
O’Hara phrased it, “Vallance was looking for a singer, Adams was looking for a route to musical respectability, and the two hit it off immediately.” The pair began writing songs together and recording demonstration tapes. Adams had a mild hit in 1979 with one of their products, the disco-styled “Let Me Take You Dancing,” and they managed to sell some of their other creations to recording artists such as Joe Cocker, Juice Newton, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Adams and Vallance also won first a publishing contract and then a recording contract with A & M Records.
But Adams’s first solo album, Bryan Adams, was unsuccessful. O’Hara explained: “On it his voice is high-pitched and the songs predictable.” He wanted, according to O’Hara, to call his next effort “Bryan Adams Hasn’t Heard of You Either,” but settled for You Want It, You Got It. The album was a moderate success, selling five hundred thousand copies and earning Adams the privilege of opening concerts for rock bands like the Kinks, Loverboy, and Foreigner. However, it was Adams’s third, Cuts Like a Knife, which pushed him to the level of rock stardom. The title song was a huge hit; the accompanying music video, involving a scantily clad woman and a gleaming knife, was considered controversial and attracted even more attention to Adams and his record. His 1985 release, Reckless, was even more popular, including the hits “Heaven” and “The Summer of ’69.”
Though he was selling records at a phenomenal rate and was a huge concert draw, Adams’s songwriting had not gained the favor of most rock-music critics. O’Hara quoted a Rolling Stone reviewer: “Adams has typically produced the closest thing yet to generic rock ’n’ roll, long on formal excellence but short on originality.” Perhaps conceding a lack of depth in his many songs about painful love relationships, Adams told Pond that during one concert performance he thought, “‘Man, I gotta sink my teeth into something else.’ ‘Cause I … had this desire to write something more interesting for myself.” One of the results of this thought was the song Adams recorded to earn money for famine relief in Ethiopia, “Tears Are Not Enough.” Another was his 1987 album Into the Fire. The disc includes a protest song about Native American land rights called “Native Son” and a contemplative number about a veteran of World War I titled “Remembrance Day.” Still, despite refusing to allow the use of another song from Into the Fire, “Only the Strong Survive,” in the film Top Gun because he felt the movie glorified war, Adams handles his newfound political principles gingerly. “I don’t like politics being rammed down people’s throats,” he confessed to Jennings. “But there’s a sensitive way of bringing up issues and making people think.”
Bryan Adams, A & M, 1980.
You Want It, You Got It, A & M, 1981.
Cuts Like a Knife (includes “Cuts Like a Knife”), A & M, 1983.
Reckless (includes “Heaven” and “The Summer of ’69”), A & M, 1985.
Into the Fire (includes “Into the Fire,” “Rebel,” “Native Son,” “Remembrance Day,” and “Only the Strong Survive”), A & M, 1987.
Also released the 1979 single, “Let Me Take You Dancing.”
Maclean’s, August 5, 1985; July 6, 1987.
Rolling Stone, March 28, 1985; September 10, 1987.
From rock n’ roll kid to activist to the voice behind film music, Bryan Adams has taken his career to many levels. He said the title to his 1996 album, 18 ’Til I Die, reflected not only how he looked at his music, but how he looked at his life. Popular in his native Canada, Adams was often compared to Bruce Springsteen early in his career. His 1991 single (Everything I Do) I Do It for You,” first released on the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack, launched his popularity worldwide.
Bryan Adams was born in Kingston, Ontario, Canada on November 5, 1959. His parents were English immigrants, and his father became a Canadian diplomat to the United Nations. By the time Adams was 12years old, he and his younger brother Bruce had lived in Israel and all over Europe. Moving from place to place as a child prepared him for touring as a singer/guitarist. “It made me accustomed to traveling” Adams told Ken Miller in Seventeen “My younger brother and I had a good time at the hotels, stealing the soap from the maids’ trays and all that. I was the influence there—we were quite mischievous.”
Just like his father and grandfather, Bryan Adams attended strict British military schools. However, true to the rock n’ roll rebel image, he grew his hair long, lambasted his teachers, and eventually got expelled. He also revolted against the strict rules his father set at home. At the age of 10, Adams got his first guitar, and from then on, music absorbed all of his attention. Two years later, Adams moved with his family to Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. Soon after, his parents divorced, driving him further into reclusion with his music. Adams didn’t see his father again until after the release of his second album.
Adams was preoccupied with his music throughout his teenage years, and was not distracted easily. “In high school, I was too far into my music to even pay attention to girls.” Adams told Steve Pond in Rolling Stone. “I’d run after the occasional girl, but music and rock n’ roll bands were far more interesting to me.”
Not Too Young to Rock
When Bryan Adams was 16 years old, he decided to quit school to put his time into his first job in rock n’ roll —guitarist for a Vancouver band called Shock. When the group couldn’t find a singer, Adams decided to attempt it himself, along with booking and managing the band. But he still wasn’t old enough to hang out in bars, so he had to stay behind in the dressing rooms between sets.
For the Record…
Born Brian Guy Adams on November 5, 1959, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada; son of Conrad (a diplomat) and Jane Adams.
Began playing in rock bands at the age of 16; performed with Sweeney Todd, 1976–77; formed songwriting partnership with Jim Vallance, 1977; signed publishing contract with Rondor Publishing, 1980; signed record contract with A&M Records, 1981; released self-titled debut LP, 1981; donated music to various social and political causes, including Greenpeace, Special Olympics, and Amnesty International, 1985–90; composed music for soundtracks and gained worldwide recognition with (“Everything I Do) I Do It for You,” 1991; returned to rock beginnings with 18 ’Til I Die, 1996.
Addresses: Record company —A&M Records, 1416 North La Brea, Los Angeles, CA 90028.
He moved on from band to band throughout his teens. In the summer of 1976, he went to see a pop band called Sweeney Todd in Surrey, British Columbia, just outside of Vancouver. At the end of the show, he found the band’s manager and proclaimed himself four times better than the group’s singer. The band decided to let him audition, and hired him to take over the front man’s spot. The following year, he left Sweeney Todd to pursue songwriting. “I’ve been in awe of singer-songwriters from the days of first hearing Paul Simon,” Adams told Larry LeBlanc in Canadian Composer. “I knew then that if I was serious about a career in music, I had to be a writer.”
Adams meets Vallance
One day in 1977, Bryan Adams went into a Vancouver music store called Long & McQuade, and there he met Jim Vallance. Vallance, former drummer of the Vancouver band Prism, was looking for a singer to perform his new material for a demo tape. Adams and Vallance soon formed a songwriting partnership “I tried to be really tactful,” Vallance told Steve Pond in Rolling Stone, “but Bryan was an unruly young fellow, and the song ideas were just unstructured and undisciplined. So we pretty much scrapped anything he and I had been working on independently and started writing together”
When Vallance and Adams completed their first song as partners, they got so excited that they stopped two strangers on the street to listen to the tape. By 1980, the partners had completed the songs for Vallance’s album Armageddon and had signed a songwriters’ contract with Rondor Publishing. They began writing songs for popular acts such as Loverboy, Bachman-Turner-Overdrive, KISS, and Bonnie Tyler.
In 1981, A&M Records offered Adams a deal to record four songs for one dollar. He worked with Vallance on the EP, which included the single “Let Me Take You Dancing” By the time they finished recording, Adams had become the focal point. “We first wanted to do a duo thing, but the more I worked with Jimmy, the more I realized he wanted to be the guy behind the scenes,” Adams explained to Christopher Connelly in Rolling Stone. “In the long run, that was good—and it was nice to get some credibility as a songwriter.”
Still incredibly persistent, Adams convinced one of Canada’s top talent managers, Bruce Allen, to represent him. “He wore me down,” Allen recalled to William Deverell in Saturday Night “He was going to go though walls to make it.” Of course, Adams never had to resort to structural damage. In 1980, he released his first full-length LP on A&M Records, Bryan Adams. His first band featured guitarist Keith Scott, bassist Dave Taylor, and Vallance on drums.
Rocked Straight to Top 10
Despite his determination to succeed, Bryan Adams had minimal success. When it came time to release his next album the following year, he wanted to call it Bryan Adams Hasn’t Heard of You, Either. Instead, he decided to title his second effort You Want It, You Got It, which was released on March 20, 1982. Produced by Bob Clearmountain, the LP sold 500,000 copies worldwide and reached No. 118 on Billboard’s album chart. The single “Lonely Nights” climbed to No. 84. The increased success and help from Bruce Allen got Bryan Adams on concert bills with The Kinks, Foreigner, and Loverboy.
In June of 1983, Bryan Adams became a hit. His third album, Cuts Like a Knife reached Billboard’s Top 10. It included the singles “Cuts Like a Knife” and “Straight from the Heart.” Later that same year, Adams recorded his first song for a film. “Heaven” appeared on the soundtrack for A Night in Heaven.
Two years later, Adams continued his success streak with the album Reckless. The first single, “Run to You” made it to No. 6 on the U.S. charts and hit No. 1 in the U.K. Within the year, Reckless produced six Top 20 hits, sold seven million copies, and reached No. 1 in the U.S. The LP included the hits “Summer of ’69” and “One Night Love Affair.” In June of 1985, pressure from radio stations forced A&M to release “Heaven” as a single, and it became Adams’s first single to sell more than a million copies. He also recorded a Top 20 hit duet with Tina Turner called “It’s Only Love.”
Compositions for a Cause
During that same year, Adams sparked his trend as a social and political activist. On July 13, he opened the U.S. tour of “Live Aid” at the JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He went on to co-write Canada’s Northern Lights’ all-star recording “Tears Are Not Enough” with Jim Vallance and David Foster. The Canadian music community’s contribution to raise money to fight famine in Ethiopia raised $2.5 million.
In 1986, Adams performed on the two-week Amnesty International tour, “A Conspiracy of Hope” The tour also included U2, Sting, Peter Gabriel, and Lou Reed. As a follow-up, he contributed to the Rock for Amnesty album in 1987. In May of that year, he released his next album, Into the Fire.
He took a different direction from his adolescent anthems into themes such as war, repression, and unemployment. Although not a failure with sales of 1.5 million, Into the Fire dropped considerably compared to Adams’s previous success. “I had to make that record, and I’m not disappointed with it,” Adams later told Larry LeBlanc in Canadian Composer. “At the time, I didn’t want the same adulation or success as Reckless.”
Despite his fame and increased financial wealth, Bryan Adams refused to get caught up in the frivolity of his rock star status. “When he played Madison Square Garden [in New York] a few years ago, he took the subway to the show,” Bruce Allen told Steve Pond in Rolling Stone. “And when he got real big and we were still flying commercial, he’d catch a cab by himself, go to the airport, and buy his own ticket. That’s not usually done.”
In December of 1987, Adams contributed the song “Run Rudolf Run” to the album A Very Special Christmas, which benefited the Special Olympics. In 1989, he performed on the Greenpeace album Rainbow Warriors, which was also released in the Soviet Union on the Melodia label.
By the end of 1989, Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance had severed their long-standing working relationship in the middle of recording Adams’s next effort. According to Adams, he didn’t approve of the songs they had done, and Vallance refused to start from scratch. Vallance attributed the separation to Adams’s attitude. “People don’t know Bryan; they just see the ’boy next door’ image, the kid with the infectious grin,” Vallance explained to William Deverell in Saturday Night. “There’s a darker side, though, and when that takes over.… Well, one morning I woke up and realized I’d had a knot in my stomach for months, and I knew it was time to pack it in.”
New Partner, New Records
Adams resumed writing and recording with a new partner, England-based producer Robert “Mutt” Lange. At the same time, he continued his charity contributions at the Roger Waters’s world-broadcast performance of “The Wall” at the Berlin Wall in Germany in 1990. The proceeds went to the Memorial Fund for Disaster Relief. During the same year, he received both the Order of Canada and Order of British Columbia awards.
The following year, Adams made a huge worldwide impact and landed in The Guinness Book of Records with one song. “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You,” which first appeared on the soundtrack for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Within the first three months, the single sold four million copies. It went on to sell eight million copies worldwide and soared to the top of the charts in 19 different countries. It broke the record for the most weeks in the number one slot on the U.K. charts. The Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada named the tune the most performed song in the country.
Adams included the single on his next album, Waking Up the Neighbours. He followed up the release with a 19-month tour that started in Mannheim, Germany. He went on to play in 25 different countries and sold 10 million copies worldwide. Adams won over audiences across the globe, even in non-English-speaking countries. “Turkey was a bit of a shock,” manager Bruce Allen told Larry LeBlanc in Billboard. “It was the first foreign stadium show in Istanbul—July 28, 1992. To see the audience sing every word, every single word, was unbelievable.”
On January 16, 1994, Adams made his mark again as the first Western musician to perform in Vietnam since 1971. His much publicized Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) concert started out a little rough. Guards controlled the crowd with electric cattle prods and the only exit was locked during the show so no one could enter or leave. “For the first half of the show, everyone was glued to their seats,” Adams recalled to Melina Gerosa in Entertainment Weekly. “By the end, it was like a regular concert.”
Evolved into Film Composer
The 1990s also brought the film soundtrack phase of Bryan Adams’s career. In 1993, he recorded “All for Love,” with Rod Stewart and Sting, for The Three Musketeers soundtrack. Two years later, he contributed the hit “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” to the soundtrack for Don Juan DeMarco. And in 1996, his song “Star” appeared on the Jack soundtrack, and “I Finally Found Someone” (with Barbra Streisand) was released on The Mirror Has Two Faces soundtrack.
In an interview with Chris Willman from Entertainment Weekly, Adams didn’t shrink at the reference to his growing relationship with the movie industry. “I’m not afraid of being thought of as someone who is associated with film music,” said Adams. “If it’s a good song, what does it matter?”
After five years, Bryan Adams made a comeback on the rock n’roll scene in 1996 with the album 18 ’Til I Die. Peter Castro described the album in People as “a mixture of juiced-up, guitar-giddy rockers and soft ballads, all of which feature Adams’s trademark rasp.” After exploring different musical topics, styles, and venues, Bryan Adams returned to his roots as a rock n’ roll rebel, and decided he didn’t want to grow up after all.
Bryan Adams, A&M, 1980.
You Want It, You Got It, A&M, 1982.
Cuts Like A Knife, A&M, 1983.
Reckless, A&M, 1985.
Into the Fire, A&M, 1987.
Waking Up the Neighbours, A&M, 1991.
So Far So Good, A&M, 1993.
Live! Live! Live!, A&M, 1995.
18 ’Til I Die, A&M Records, 1996.
Soundtracks; with others
A Night in Heaven, 1983.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Morgan Creek Records, 1991.
The Three Musketeers, Hollywood Records, 1993.
Don Juan DeMarco, A&M, 1995.
Jack, Warner Bros. Records, 1996.
The Mirror Has Two Faces, Columbia, 1996.
Rainbow Warriors, 1987.
Rock for Amnesty, 1987.
A Very Special Christmas, 1987.
Rees, Dafydd, and Luke Crampton, Rock Movers & Shakers, Billboard Books/ABC-CLIO, 1991.
Billboard, September 14, 1991; November 14, 1992; February 6, 1993; February 5, 1994.
Canadian Composer, Winter 1991.
Entertainment Weekly, December 24, 1993; February 4, 1994; February 23, 1996; November 29, 1996.
Maclean’s, August 5, 1985; June 10, 1996; June 24, 1996.
People, June 10, 1996.
Rolling Stone, April 28, 1983; December 19, 1985; September 10, 1987; March 10, 1994; March 28, 1995.
Saturday Night, November 1992.
Seventeen, August 1987.
Singer, songwriter, guitarist
Bryan Adams "is arguably Canada's brightest male star," declared Nicholas Jennings in Maclean's. His 1985 album Reckless sold more than ten million copies— impressive by any standard—but, as Jennings pointed out, Adams has enjoyed a wider distribution "than any Canadian in history." Adams has owed this distinction primarily to straightforward rock anthems like "Kids Wanna Rock" and ballads like "Heaven." Though some critics have dismissed Adams as a lesser version of rocker Bruce Springsteen, lacking the substance that the latter has infused into his songs, others have praised Adams's simplicity. "His music is about guys and girls. They're melodies that stick in your head," explained Pat Steward, Adams's drummer, to Jane O'Hara in another Maclean's article.
Adams was born on November 5, 1959, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. His parents were former British citizens, and his father, Conrad Adams, came from a military family. This background, coupled with the fact that Conrad Adams served in the Canadian diplomatic corps, meant a childhood of moving from place to place for Bryan. He attended military schools in several countries, including England, Austria, Portugal, and Israel. Adams recalled to Steve Pond in Rolling Stone that "the discipline that they taught me in school was good, because I was able to focus on things—but I didn't realize that at the time. So I got sent to the headmaster a lot." When he turned 16, however, his parents separated, and he went to live with his mother, Jane, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Adams's early musical development is echoed, if not narrated, in the lyrics of his 1985 hit "Summer of '69": "I got my first real six-string / Bought it at the five-and-dime / Played it till my fingers bled / It was the summer of '69," as Pond quoted it. As an early teen, Adams bought his first guitar and started learning to play. As an adolescent, he pursued his rock goals with single-minded fervor. He explained to Pond: "In high school, I was too far into my music to even pay attention to girls."
At the age of 16 Adams quit school and used the money his parents had saved for his higher education to buy a grand piano. He joined bands and played in nightclubs, supplementing his income by washing dishes, selling pet food, and working in record stores. "One summer night in 1976," Jennings related, "after hearing a local rock band perform in Surrey, B[ritish] C[olumbia], … Adams … strode boldly up to the group's producer and announced that he could sing better than its vocalist. He got an audition—and the job." Not long after that, Adams met up with Jim Vallance, who had formerly written songs for the Canadian rock group Prism. As O'Hara phrased it, "Vallance was looking for a singer, Adams was looking for a route to musical respectability, and the two hit it off immediately." The pair began writing songs together and recording dem- onstration tapes. Adams had a mild hit in 1979 with one of their collaborations, the disco-styled "Let Me Take You Dancing," and they managed to sell some of their other creations to recording artists such as Joe Cocker, Juice Newton, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Adams and Vallance also won first a publishing contract and then a recording contract with A & M Records.
But Adams's first solo album, Bryan Adams, was unsuccessful. O'Hara explained: "On it his voice is high-pitched and the songs predictable." According to O'Hara, Adams wanted to call his next effort "Bryan Adams Hasn't Heard of You Either," but settled for You Want It, You Got It. The album was a moderate success, selling 500,000 copies and earning Adams the privilege of opening concerts for rock bands like the Kinks, Loverboy, and Foreigner. However, it was Adams's third, Cuts Like a Knife, that pushed him to the level of rock stardom. The title song was a huge hit; the accompanying music video, involving a scantily clad woman and a gleaming knife, was considered controversial and attracted even more attention to Adams and his record. His 1985 album Reckless was even more popular, including the hits "Heaven" and "The Summer of '69."
Though he was selling records at a phenomenal rate and was a huge concert draw, Adams's songwriting had not gained the favor of many rock music critics. O'Hara quoted a Rolling Stone reviewer: "Adams has typically produced the closest thing yet to generic rock 'n' roll, long on formal excellence but short on originality." Perhaps conceding a lack of depth in his many songs about painful love relationships, Adams told Pond that during one concert performance he thought, "‘Man, I gotta sink my teeth into something else.’" One of the results of this thought was the song Adams recorded to earn money for famine relief in Ethiopia, "Tears Are Not Enough." Another was his 1987 album Into the Fire. The disc included a protest song about Native American land rights, called "Native Son," and a contemplative number about a veteran of World War I, titled "Remembrance Day." Still, Adams handled his political principles gingerly. "I don't like politics being rammed down people's throats," he confessed to Jennings. "But there's a sensitive way of bringing up issues and making people think."
After releasing Into the Fire, Adams embarked on a year-long tour. While the album sold fewer copies than Reckless, it nonetheless sold a million copies in the United States and another million to an international audience. Against expectations, he waited four years to release his next studio album. During the interim he contributed a steady steam of songs to motion pictures. In 1989 Adams played a small role in Clint Eastwood's Pink Cadillac, and co-wrote "Drive All Night" (sung by Celine Dion on the soundtrack) with Vallance. Adams, Vallance, and Diane Warren then penned "When the Night Comes," which became a Top 20 hit for Joe Cocker in 1989. "When the Night Comes" would be the last collaboration between Adams and Vallance; in the summer, the pair went their separate ways, and Adams formed a new partnership with Robert John "Mutt" Lange.
In 1991 Kevin Costner invited Adams to compose the lyrics for the theme song to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" reached number one on both the Adult Contemporary and Billboard Hot 100 charts, and the collaboration won a Grammy Award for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television. Adams also released Waking Up the Neighbors in 1991, an album that would reach number six on the Billboard 200 and spawn five hits (including "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You"). "Waking up the Neighbours is a fun album and perfect for those who expect nothing more than an old-fashioned good time from their rock & roll," wrote Jose F. Promis in All Music Guide.
For the Record …
Born Bryan Guy Adams on November 5, 1959, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada; son of Conrad (a diplomat) and Jane Adams.
Songwriter, with Jim Vallance, 1977-; recording artist, 1979-; has performed in various charity concerts for organizations including Live Aid, Amnesty International, and the Prince's Trust; issued Bryan Adams, 1980, You Want It, You Got It, 1981, Cuts Like a Knife, 1983, Reckless, 1984, Into the Fire, 1987, Waking Up the Neighbours, 1991, 18 'Til I Die, 1996, One More Day Like Today, 1998, and Room Service, 2004.
Awards: (With others), Grammy Award, Best Song Written Specifically For a Motion Picture or Television, for "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You," 1991; inducted into Canadian Music Hall of Fame, 2006.
Addresses: Record company—Polydor, 72 Black Lion Lane, Hammersmith, London, England W6 9EE, telephone: +44 020 8910 4800, website: http://www. polydor.co.uk.
In 1993 Adams issued So Far So Good, a greatest hits collection that included the new song "Please Forgive Me." He followed the chart success of "Please Forgive Me" (Top Ten) with "All For Love," the theme song to the motion picture Three Musketeers, recorded with Sting and Rod Stewart. After a short break during 1994, Adams returned in 1995 with "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?," from the film Don Juan De Marco. In 1996 he released a new studio album, 18 'Til I Die, followed by two live albums, MTV Unplugged in 1997 and On a Day Like Today in 1998. In 2004 Adams signed to Polydor Records and released Room Service.
In 2006 Adams was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, receiving the honor at the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences' Juno Awards ceremony held in April of that year. He had declined to accept the award on four previous occasions. "I'm not terribly keen about accepting awards," he told Billboard. "I'm happy just making music and touring."
Bryan Adams, A & M, 1980.
You Want It, You Got It, A & M, 1981.
Cuts Like a Knife, A & M, 1983.
Reckless, A & M, 1985.
Into the Fire, A & M, 1987.
Waking Up the Neighbours, A & M, 1991.
So Far So Good, A & M, 1993
18 'Til I Die, A & M, 1996.
MTV Unplugged, A & M, 1997.
On a Day Like Today, A & M, 1998.
Room Service, Badman, 2004.
Billboard, April 1, 2006.
Maclean's, August 5, 1985; July 6, 1987.
Rolling Stone, March 28, 1985; September 10, 1987.
"Bryan Adams," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com/ (January 9, 2007).
Born: Kingston, Ontario, 5 November 1959
Best-selling album since 1990: Waking Up the Neighbours (1991)
Hit songs since 1990: "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You," "Please Forgive Me," "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?"
After entering the pop music scene in the early 1980s, Canadian singer/songwriter Bryan Adams quickly gained notoriety with a catchy, easily definable mainstream rock sound. However, that definition has gotten murky through the years, as his soft love ballads, some of which are movie soundtrack hits, have commercially triumphed.
As far back as he can remember, Adams was interested in music, but this passion flew in the face of his dominating father's wishes. The father was a military man, later a diplomat to the United Nations, and the family lived all over the world. When Bryan's parents divorced, his mother, a schoolteacher, took him and his younger brother to settle in Vancouver, British Columbia. Adams quit high school at age sixteen and began performing and writing songs for a local rock group called Shock and another named Sweeney Todd, with which he cut two albums. Adams sought out the songwriter/producer Jim Vallance in 1980, and they began co-writing songs, some of which were recorded by the Canadian supergroups Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Loverboy as well as by Bonnie Tyler and KISS.
The Making of a Superstar
In 1981 Adams decided on a solo career and signed a now-famous contract with A&M Records in Toronto for the sum of one dollar. His first release went nowhere, but his second, You Want It, You Got It (1981), sold well in Canada and made way for Cuts Like a Knife (1983). This album went platinum in the United States and introduced Adams's husky-voiced, passionate rock with agreeable hits like "This Time," "Straight from the Heart," and the title track, "Cuts Like a Knife." Adams followed with Reckless (1984), which soared to the top spot on the U.S. record charts. It features six major hit singles, including "Run to You," "Summer of '69," and a red-hot duet with singing legend Tina Turner, "It's Only Love." The handsome Adams seemed to have found a perfect balance with his pliable foot-stomping rock. He became one of rock's bona fide superstars.
In 1991, after Adams and his band toured the world playing sold-out stadiums at every stop, he recorded a dulcet ballad by the veteran film composer Michael Kamen "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" for the soundtrack to the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner. The song was a megahit and went number one immediately in the United States, Canada, and England, where Adams now lives. It sold over 8 million copies as a single. The song's success paved the way for Waking Up the Neighbours (1991), which contains "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" in addition to the bouncy hit "Can't Stop This Thing We Started." Waking Up the Neighbours sold almost 6 million copies in its first two months of issue.
Adams continued to succeed with ballads and movie soundtracks, adding the gorgeous "Please Forgive Me," another chart topper, to a greatest hits album, So Far So Good (1993). The album sold 13 million copies worldwide. Later that year he recorded the song "All for Love" with his fellow superstars Rod Stewart and Sting for the film The Three Musketeers. The film was a flop but the song went to number one, as did "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?," which he recorded for the film Don Juan DeMarco (1995), starring Johnny Depp. In the meantime, Adams continued to tour worldwide, developing a massive following in Europe and Asia in addition to the United States.
Rock music success and all of its trappings has claimed its fair share of casualties, but seems to have had few adverse effects on Adams. By all accounts down-to-earth, Adams has used his celebrity to promote and raise money for an impressive list of personally favored humanitarian causes, including Live Aid, Net Aid, Amnesty International, Greenpeace, cancer research, environmental causes, Ethiopian famine, and freedom for Nelson Mandela. He is a devout vegetarian, an avid equestrian, and has never been married. Adams has a strong passion for photography and has snapped shots in privileged photo sessions with such luminaries as the queen of England and Paul McCartney. His work has appeared in galleries, books, and magazines worldwide.
Placated by live and compilation albums, fans had to wait five years for Adams to follow-up the colossal Waking Up the Neighbours. In 1996 he released 18 'til I Die (1996). The album used the same formula as Neighbours by adding an already-released soundtrack hit. This time it was "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" Adams's fans were beginning to split down the middle. One side longed for the raw rock of his earlier days, the other for Adams's recent ballads; most of Adams's later work is saddled with the challenge of satisfying both camps. The following year he answered with a collection of songs, including some of his heaviest rockers, in a live acoustic set on MTV as part of its Unplugged series.
Accolades and Staying Power
Adams has sold more than 50 million albums throughout a career that shows no sign of slowing down. He has been showered with awards, including sixteen wins out of twenty-four Juno nominations (the Canadian version of a Grammy), and three Grammy Awards out of thirteen nominations. He has also won two MTV Music Awards and had three Academy Award nominations for soundtrack songs. In 2002 he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for the song "Here I Am" from the soundtrack to Dream Works's animated epic, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. He also released an album of the film's music under the same title. The ballad-heavy recording features a duet with fellow Canadian Sarah McLachlan on "Don't Let Go." The album as a whole displays Adams's songwriting growth and his innate ability to infuse his songs with satisfying hooks. "Get Off My Back," from Spirit, was one return on the album to his rock sound. He toured most of 2002 with the bare-bones trio of Keith Scott on guitar, Mickey Curry on drums, and Adams on bass guitar, a departure from his usual role as rhythm guitarist.
The pride of Canada, Bryan Adams has earned a top spot in contemporary music with relentless touring and an ability to appeal consistently to a mainstream audience.
Bryan Adams (A&M Records, 1980); You Want It, You Got It (A&M Records, 1981); Cuts Like a Knife (A&M Records, 1983); Reckless (A&M Records, 1984); Into the Fire (A&M Records, 1987); Waking Up the Neighbours (A&M Records, 1991); So Far So Good (A&M Records, 1993); So Far So Live (Alex Records, 1994); 18 'til I Die (A&M Records, 1996); MTV Unplugged (A&M Records, 1997); On a Day Like Today (A&M Records, 1998); Greatest Hits (A&M Records, 1999); The Best of Me (Polygram Records, 2001); Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (Universal Records, 2002).
B. Adams, Bryan Adams: The Official Biography (Toronto, 1995).
Adams, Bryan, hard-rocking Canuck who quit school at 16 to chase his rock and roll dreams, and 20 years later was singing duets with Barbra Streisand; b. Nov. 5, 1959, Kingston, Canada. The son of a Canadian diplomat, Bryan Adams went to boarding schools around the world. This only convinced him that he probably could do better without school. He spent the money put aside for college on a piano and started working with rock bands and writing songs. He hooked up with Jim Vallance, who worked with the dance rock band Prism. Together they wrote tunes for Kiss, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and Loverboy. This earned them a publishing contract with Almo Music and a recording contract with A&M, a scant three years after Adams quit school.
Adams’s eponymous debut tanked. His second album, You Want It You Got It, fell about 20 spots shy of the Top 200 albums, while the single “Lonely Nights” didn’t break the Top 80. He hit the road, supporting acts such as the Kinks and Loverboy. Two years later, in 1983, he released Cuts Like a Knife, with the breakthrough single “Straight from the Heart.” The single went Top Ten. On the strength of that hit, “This Time,” and the Top 20 title track, the album reached #8 and sold a million copies in the U.S. Five months later, he followed that up with Reckless. That album topped the charts and sold five million copies, with the Top Ten tunes “Run to You” and “Summer of 69” as well as the Top 20 “Somebody” and his duet with Tina Turner, “It’s Only Love.” All of these established a larger-than-life video presence for the diminutive Adams. “It’s Only Love” earned him and Turner an MTV Award for Best Stage Performance. Another track from the album, the ballad “Heaven,” was included in the film A Night in Heaven. That song topped the charts. Suddenly Adams became the poster boy for the power ballad. His next album, Into the Fire, included the Top Ten lead single “Heat of the Night,” but “Hearts on Fire” barely broke the Top 30.
Adams took his video presence to Hollywood, doing a cameo in Clint Eastwood’s Pink Cadillac and spending considerable time on the road. In 1990 he was awarded the Order of Canada. He also went Hollywood musically, with his biggest hits of the 1990s coming in films. This started with “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You,” the #1 song that ran under the credits for the 1991 film Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves and holds the Guiness record for most weeks atop the British charts (16). The song was nominated for an Oscar and won an American Music Award (Pop/Rock Single), Billboard Music Award (Top World Single), Grammy (Best Song Specifically Written for a Motion Picture or Television show), and an MTV Movie Award (Best Song). It helped propel Adams’s Waking Up the Neighbours to #6 on the charts and quadruple platinum status in America. The album topped the U.K. charts and kicked off a tour that lasted the better part of three years. Adams teamed up with Rod Stewart and Sting to form a triumvirate of former rockers for the chart-topping theme “All for Love” from the 1993 remake of The Three Musketeers. His song “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman,” for the film Don Juan de Marco also topped the charts and was nominated for an Oscar, as was his duet with Barbra Streisand, “I Finally Found Somebody,” for her film The Mirror Has Two Faces.
Adams took a 1993 greatest hits collection to the Top Ten, but his 1995 live album didn’t chart. The 18 ’til I Die album attempted to regain some of his rock and roll credibility, despite including “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman.” Tracks like “The Only Thing That Looks Good on You Is Me” and “Let’s Make a Night to Remember” sent the record to platinum in the U.S. Adams released an album recorded for the MTV Unplugged series that didn’t even go gold. Nor did the follow-up, On a Day Like Today, despite including a duet with Mel “Sporty Spice” C. of the teen sensation group The Spice Girls.
Bryan Adams (1980); You Want It You Got It (1981); Cuts like a Knife (1983); Reckless (1984); Into the Fire (1987); Live! Live! Live! (1988); Waking Up the Neighbors (1991); The Live Volume (1992); So Far So Good (1993); 18 ’Til I Die (1996); Unplugged (1997); On a Day Like Today (1998).