November 5, 1959 in Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Perhaps Bryan Adams has displayed some shortcomings as an artist, but one of those is certainly not lack of music business ambition and initiative. The son of diplomat parents who was therefore somewhat of a world traveler growing up, Adams dropped out of school at 15 and almost immediately leapt into a music career. At age 18, Adams met Jim Vallance, a Canadian rock music vet with whom he forged a fruitful songwriting partnership. Before the '70s came to a close, Adams had a record contract.
The Slow, Steady Blue-Collar Ascent of Bryan Adams:
Despite somewhat affluent roots, Adams chose a casual, tee-shirt and jeans look with a sprinkling of punk-kid attitude to begin his career. And although few outside Canada heard much of his 1980 self-titled debut, Adams began to perk up ears on his 1981 follow-up You Want It, You Got It, which featured his first truly great single, the impossibly catchy "Lonely Nights." At this point, Adams was ready to enter the next stage of his career, but he couldn't have predicted what wonders lay ahead.
The hit albums Cuts Like a Knife and Reckless, released in 1983 and 1985, respectively, made Adams a household name and also proved that the singer's partnership with Vallance was producing some of the most accessible, hooky rock of the era. Over the course of the two albums, Adams piled up nine Top 40 pop hits, not to mention lots of rock radio airplay. And though the ballads "Straight from the Heart" and "Heaven" were high-profile, melodic rockers "This Time" and "Somebody" were better.
Decline & Transformation:
When 1987's Into the Fire failed to live up to the impossibly high standards set by Adams' two previous releases, the singer stepped back and considered changes to his formula. Gone were the hard-rocking elements of his early sound, replaced by a move toward adult contemporary and movie theme song cheese. Linking up with uber-producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange aided this transformation and resulted in Adams' first No. 1 hit since "Heaven" in 1991's ubiquitous "Everything I Do (I Do It for You)."
While Adams' shift to easier listening during the '90s lost him some respect among fans of rock music, he had never been more successful, reaching No. 1 on the pop charts twice more by 1995. Still, he remained a staple on both pop and rock radio, and his up-tempo numbers from the early '80s provide some quality listening still today. Furthermore, his compositions written with Vallance supplied contemporary artists in the '80s a steady supply of material, proving Adams to be a songwriter's songwriter.
- Adams' first song released as a single on A&M Records was a 1979 disco tune called "Let Me Take You Dancing." The singer later disavowed the recording. Ya think?
- Adams and songwriting partner Vallance contributed songs to artists as disparate as Kiss, Krokus and Bonnie Raitt during the '80s.
- By age 25, Adams boasted one of the decade's biggest hit albums, 1985's Reckless, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard album charts and went on to sell more than 5 million copies in America.