Adams rose to fame in Canada and the United States with his 1983 album Cuts Like a Knife and turned into a global star with his 1984 album Reckless, which produced some of his best known songs, including “Run to You” and “Summer of ’69“. In 1991, he released “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” from the album Waking Up the Neighbours The song was written for the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the song became a worldwide hit which went to number 1 in many countries, including 16 consecutive weeks in the United Kingdom, a new record as well as 72 weeks in the top 20. Adams also had the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles “Heaven“, “All for Love” and “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?“
For his contributions to music, Adams has garnered many awards and nominations, including 20 Juno Awards among 56 nominations, 15 Grammy Award nominations including a win for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television in 1992. He has also won MTV, ASCAP, American Music awards, three Ivor Novello Awards for song composition and has been nominated five times for Golden Globe Awards and three times for Academy Awards for his songwriting for films.
Adams was awarded the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia for contributions to popular music and philanthropic work via his own foundation, which helps improve education for people around the world.
Adams was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in March 2011 and Canada’s Walk of Fame, Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame in 1998, and in April 2006 he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at Canada’s Juno Awards. In 2008, Adams was ranked 38th on the list of all-time top artists in the Billboard Hot 100 50th Anniversary Charts. On 13 January 2010, he received the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award for his part in numerous charitable concerts and campaigns during his career, and on 1 May 2010 was given the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awardfor his 30 years of contributions to the arts. He has sold more than 75 million records, making him one of the world’s best-selling music artists.
Bryan Guy Adams was born on 5 November 1959 in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, to parents from the United Kingdom: Elizabeth Jane (née Watson) and Captain Conrad J. Adams, who emigrated to Canada from Plymouth, England in the 1950s. Adams’ father, a Sandhurst officer in the British Army, joined the Canadian Army and later spent time as a United Nations peacekeeping observer for Canada, which led to him becoming a Canadian foreign service diplomat. Adams travelled with his parents to diplomatic postings in Lisbon, Portugal (where he attended the American School of Lisbon) and Vienna, Austria, during the 1960s, and to Tel Aviv, Israel during the early 1970s.
Raised in Ottawa, Adams attended Colonel By Secondary School in the Beacon Hill neighbourhood of East Ottawa. In 1974, Adams, his mother, and younger brother Bruce moved to North Vancouver while his father was posted abroad.
By age 15, Adams had started working in the Vancouver music scene.
In late 1976, Adams became the vocalist for pub band Sweeney Todd, who had only a few months earlier hit number 1 on the Canadian charts with a song “Roxy Roller”. Adams was made to sing a re-make of the song for the US, which made it to number 99 on the US charts. The new incarnation of the band released an album If Wishes Were Horses (1977) with Adams billed as “Bryan Guy Adams” on vocals.
In 1978 at age 18, Adams met Jim Vallance through a mutual friend in a Vancouver music store. Vallance was the former drummer and principal songwriter for Vancouver-based rock band Prism and had recently quit that band to focus on a career as a studio musician and songwriter. They agreed to meet at Vallance’s home studio a few days later, which proved to be the beginning of a partnership which, as of 2017, is still in existence.
Later in 1978, Adams signed to A&M records for one dollar. Some of the first demos written and recorded in 1978 have surfaced over the years, most notably “I’m Ready”, recorded for both the Cuts Like a Knife and MTV Unplugged albums, and “Remember”, recorded for his first album. Both songs were covered by other artists even before his first album was released.
Also recorded during this time was the disco song “Let Me Take You Dancing“, featuring Adams’ vocals sped up to meet the 122BPM dance tempo. The song made the Canadian RPM chart in March 1979 along with its B-Side “Don’t Turn Me Away”.
“Straight From The Heart” was also written during this period. The song was later recorded for Adams’s third album Cuts Like A Knife in 1983 and released as a single, becoming Adams’s first top 10 record in the U.S. in 1983.
Adams’s self-titled debut album was released in February 1980 and marked the beginning of what was to become a long songwriting partnership between Adams and co-writer Jim Vallance. With the exception of “Remember” and “Wastin’ Time”, most of the album was recorded from 29 October up until 29 November 1979 at Manta Studios and co-produced by Adams and Vallance. The album was certified gold in Canada in 1986.
Adams’s second album, You Want It You Got It, was recorded in two weeks and it marked Adams’s first album co-produced by Bob Clearmountain. It was released in 1981 and contained the FM album-oriented rock radio hit “Lonely Nights”, (as well as Seattle-area favorite “Fits Ya Good”) but it was not until the third album that he achieved international recognition. Adams also co-wrote songs for other artists during this time including Billboard charted songs like “No Way to Treat a Lady” for Bonnie Raitt and “Don’t Let Him Know” for Prism.
Cuts Like a Knife, which was released in January 1983, was Adams’s breakout album due mainly to the lead singles. “Straight from the Heart” was the most successful song, reaching number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Another single, “Cuts Like a Knife” charted at number 15. “This Time” also placed on the Hot 100. Music videos were released for four of the singles from the album. “Cuts Like a Knife” arguably became Adams’s most recognizable and popular song from the album. Its music video received heavy airplay on music television channels. The album peaked at number eight on the Billboard 200 album chart and achieved three times platinum status in Canada, platinum in the United States and gold in Australia.
Adams’s album, Reckless, produced by Adams and Bob Clearmountain, peaked at number one on the Billboard 200. The album was released in November 1984 and featured the singles, “Run to You“, “Summer of ’69“, “Heaven“, “One Night Love Affair“, “Somebody“, and “It’s Only Love“, a duet with Tina Turner. All the singles had accompanying music videos and all peaked in the Top 15 of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Run to You” (number 6) and “Summer of ’69” (number 5), peaking in the top ten; “Heaven” became the most successful single from Reckless at the time of its release on the pop charts, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100. “Heaven” had reached number nine on the mainstream rock chart the previous year as it been released as a non-album track “Run To You” was the most successful single at album-oriented rock stations as it spent 4 weeks at the top of the mainstream rock chart. “It’s Only Love” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. In 1986, the song won an MTV award for Best Stage Performance. After the release of the album, Adams was nominated for Best Male Rock Performance. The album is Adams’s best-selling album in the United States and was certified five times platinum.
In December 1984, Adams embarked on a two-year world tour to launch the album starting in Canada and United States, then into Japan, Australia, back to the UK and again to Canada. After winning four Juno Awards, he headed south towards the American West Coast, culminating with two dates at the Paladium in Los Angeles. After the tour in the United States, Adams took part of a grand ensemble of Canadian artists named Northern Lights, who recorded “Tears Are Not Enough” for the African famine-relief effort. Adams later headed back to Europe for a 50-city concert tour with rock singer Tina Turner, culminating in April with his return to London to headline three sold-out shows at the Hammersmith Odeon. Adams began the first leg of his tour entitled “World Wide in ’85” which started in Oklahoma and ended in October 1985. Adams later visited Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and afterward returned to the American East Coast to play two sold-out concerts in.
In 1985, Adams worked on Roger Daltrey‘s sixth solo album, Under a Raging Moon, which was a tribute album to The Who‘s former drummer Keith Moon who died in 1978. Adams co wrote two tracks for the album those being: “Let Me Down Easy” and “Rebel”. The track “Let Me Down Easy” was a Top 15 Hit on Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock Tracks and featured Adams playing guitar and singing backing vocals aside Daltrey with Robbie McIntosh playing guitar in the music video. Nearly 30 years later, Adams would release his own version of “Let Me Down Easy” on a 30-year anniversary version of Reckless.
The follow-up album to Reckless was Into the Fire which was released in 1987. The album was recorded at Cliffhanger Studios in Vancouver and mixed at AIR Studios in London and Warehouse Studio in Vancouver. This album contained the hit songs “Heat of the Night” and “Hearts on Fire” and hit the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic.