Biography of Bryan Adams

Topics: Bryan Adams, Billboard charts, Billboard Hot 100 Pages: 10 (3963 words) Published: October 30, 2012
From the mid-'80s to the mid-'90s, Canadian singer/songwriter and guitarist Bryan Adams was one of the most successful recording artists in popular music worldwide. Usually dressed in blue jeans, sneakers, and white T-shirts, the energetic performer stalked stages around the globe, electric guitar in hand, singing his own up-tempo pop/rock songs and ballads before audiences numbering in the tens of thousands. He released a series of multi-platinum albums containing chart-topping singles featured in popular motion pictures. His raspy voice, simple compositions, and straightforward musical approach earned him early critical approbation as a likable if unoriginal rock & roll journeyman, but as he began to become massively popular, reviewers increasingly pointed out the clichés in his lyrics and the derivative nature of his music, especially as he softened his style in the early '90s for his hit movie theme songs. By the end of the '90s, his record sales had fallen precipitously and he had become largely identified with his movie work, though he continued to tour extensively, playing his many hits. Adams was born Bryan Guy Adams on November 5, 1959, in Kingston, Ontario. (His middle name referred to Guy Fawkes, the British conspirator executed for an attempt to blow up Parliament in 1605, resulting in the observation of Guy Fawkes Day in England each November 5.) Adams' parents were British émigrés; his father, Conrad J. Adams, was a military diplomat, his mother, Elizabeth Jane Adams, had been a schoolteacher and librarian. His father's occupation caused the family to move extensively during Adams' childhood. They relocated to Ottawa when he was six, then his father began to get overseas postings, first in Vienna and next Portugal, where the family lived from 1967 to 1971. By his early adolescence, Adams had begun to show an interest in music, playing drums before taking up the guitar. From Portugal, the family briefly moved back to Ottawa, and then went to Tel Aviv. Adams had been expected to enroll at Sandhurst, a military academy in England both his father and grandfather had attended, but he refused. In the mid-'70s, his parents separated, and he returned to Ottawa with his mother and younger brother before settling permanently in Vancouver. While attending high school, he increasingly spent his time auditioning for rock bands, gaining greater success when he tried out as a singer rather than as a guitarist. By the age of 16, he was fronting a local band called Shock. In the summer of 1976, he successfully auditioned to become the new lead singer of Sweeney Todd, a glam rock band that had just scored a Canadian hit with "Roxy Roller," but had lost its vocalist, Nick Gilder. With that, Adams dropped out of school. His first assignment with the band was to record a new vocal over the instrumental tracks of "Roxy Roller" for a reissue of the single on London Records. On September 18, 1976, this single entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 99, Adams' first chart placing in the U.S. He toured with Sweeney Todd and appeared on the band's second album, If Wishes Were Horses, released in August 1977 and featuring three of his co-compositions, "Until I Find You," "Pushin' and Shovin'" (both written with bassist Budd Marr), and "Song for a Star" (written with keyboardist Dan Gaudin). Adams quit Sweeney Todd in December 1977. In January 1978, Adams met Jim Vallance. Seven years Adams' senior, Vallance had been the drummer in the successful Canadian band Prism and had written most of the songs for their self-titled debut album under the pseudonym Rodney Higgs. But, finding that he disliked touring, he had left the band and was trying to develop a career as a songwriter and producer. He and Adams agreed to form a partnership in which they would co-write songs and he would produce demo tapes of them, on which Adams would sing. (It has been extensively reported, repeated in one rock encyclopedia after another, that they sold songs to...
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