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.”
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.
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.
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 inCanadian Composer. “I knew then that if I was serious about a career in music, I had to be a writer.”
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’sTop 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.”
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 forDon 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 album18 ’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.
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