Bryan Adams | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams' first single, "Let Me Take You Dancing," was a disco hit in 1979, and was followed by the albums (for A & M) Bryan Adams (SP-4800) in 1980 and You Want It - You Got It (SP-4864) in 1981. Of his other early singles, "Fits Ya Good" was popular in 1982.
Adams, Bryan
Bryan Adams is the best-known rock musician of his time (photo by Ken Regan/Camera 5).

Adams, Bryan

Bryan Adams. Singer, songwriter, guitarist, photographer, b Kingston, Ont, 5 Nov 1959. Raised in England, Israel, Portugal, and Austria, Bryan Adams was taken to Vancouver at 14 and there succeeded Nick Gilder as the vocalist with the rock band Sweeney Todd at 16, singing on the LP If Wishes Were Horses (Lon PS-694). He began a songwriting partnership with Jim Vallance at 18; some of their early efforts were recorded by Prism and Loverboy, both clients of Bruce Allen, who became Adams' manager in 1979.

Career to 1990

Bryan Adams' first single, "Let Me Take You Dancing," was a disco hit in 1979, and was followed by the albums (for A & M) Bryan Adams (SP-4800) in 1980 and You Want It - You Got It (SP-4864) in 1981. Of his other early singles, "Fits Ya Good" was popular in 1982. With the release of Cuts Like a Knife (SP-4919) in 1983, Adams' popularity soared dramatically. The singles "Cuts Like a Knife," "Straight from the Heart," and "This Time" were all international hits in 1983, followed in 1984 by "Run to You," "Somebody," "Heaven," "Summer of 69," "One Night Love Affair," and "It's Only Love" (a duet with Tina Turner), all from Reckless (SP-5013). A fifth album, Into the Fire (SP-3907), issued in 1987, included the lesser hits "Heat of the Night," "Heart's on Fire," and "Victim of Love."

Adams' performing career followed in successive steps, taking him from clubs across Canada in 1980 to opening spots on Canadian and US tours with Loverboy, Foreigner, Journey, and others by 1983. By 1985, he had toured Europe and had headline status at North American arenas and stadiums (eg, at Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum, New York's Madison Square Garden, and the CNE's Exhibition Stadium). Adams made a second European tour (opening for Tina Turner) in 1985 and toured there and in Japan extensively following the release of Reckless and Into the Fire. Live in Belgium, a concert documentary filmed in July 1988 before an audience of 50,000 in Werchter, was telecast 15 Jan 1989 by the CBC.

Bryan Adams' blue-collar image - typically, a T-shirt and jeans - mirrored the hard-working values of his music, a straightforward style of rock and roll. His writing with Jim Vallance reflected superior craftmanship; the sentimental themes of Adams' songs to the mid-1980s - love, love lost, loneliness - were unsentimentally sung in a voice characterized by a raspy urgency. The darker, introspective songs of Into the Fire broached such topics as war ("Remembrance Day") and Aboriginal rights ("Native Son"), and were hailed as a sign of a new maturity.

During the 1980s, the songwriting team of Adams and Vallance had songs recorded by BTO, Joe Cocker ("Edge of a Dream"), Roger Daltry, Paul Dean, Neil Diamond, Paul Hyde and the Payolas, Kiss, Juice Newton, Peter Pringle, Bonnie Raitt, Carly Simon, Rod Stewart, 38 Special ("Teacher, Teacher"), Tina Turner, Bonnie Tyler, Uriah Heep, and Bob Welch. Adams has also collaborated with Lisa Dal Bello, Eric Kagna, and others.

Career 1991 to Present

The long-delayed album, Waking up the Neighbours (A & M 75021-5367), issued in 1991, included "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You." The song, which was featured in the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, was Adams' biggest hit to date, selling some seven million copies internationally as a single. It stayed at No. 1 for seven weeks in the US and four months in the UK and was, at that point, the biggest-selling single in the history of A&M Records. It pushed the Neighbours album past the triple-platinum mark.

With that album, Adams' producer, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, became his new songwriting partner, co-credited on each song. The album also established Adams' modus operandi for the rest of the 1990s: the release of one romantically themed hit single every two to three years, tied to a feature film soundtrack. He had massive success, for example, with the 1993 single "All For Love" (a platinum-selling track sung with Sting and Rod Stewart, from The Three Musketeers soundtrack) and the 1995 No. 1 "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" These were followed in 2002 by an album of songs from the animated film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron.


Bryan Adams was Canada's most successful rock artist of the 1980s. The Reckless album alone sold some seven million copies, including more than one million in Canada.

He has received numerous Juno awards : as best male vocalist annually 1983-7; as composer of the year (with Vallance) in 1984 (for "Cuts Like a Knife") and 1985 (Reckless); for album and producer of the year in 1984 (Cuts Like a Knife), and for album of the year in 1985 (Reckless). He won the inaugural Juno in 1987 as Canadian entertainer of the year. With Vallance, he shared PRO Canada's William Harold Moon Award in 1985 for international achievement.

In the 1990s, Adams picked up seven additional Juno awards out of an enviable 28 nominations, including Entertainer of the Year and International Achievement awards (both in 1992), Best-Selling Album (1993), Male Vocalist of the Year (1997), and Best Songwriter (1999). He won Best Male Artist in 2000 and received SOCAN Classics awards for "Run to You" and "Somebody" in 2004. In 2006 he was honoured by the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and in 2010 he received the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award from the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

He has also had three nominations for Grammy awards, winning in 1992 for "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You," as the best song written for a motion picture. In 1990 he was honoured by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) as Canada's male performer of the 1980s, and was named a Member of the Order of Canada (elevated to Officer in 1998).

In addition, Adams has received three Academy Award nominations (but no wins) for Best Song. "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" was nominated in 1992, while "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" (featured in the soundtrack of the film Don Juan DeMarco) garnered a nomination in 1996. The following year, "I've Finally Found Someone," his collaboration with Lange, Marvin Hamlisch, and Barbra Streisand, earned an Oscar nomination after appearing in the soundtrack of The Mirror Has Two Faces.

Adams fared better at the ASCAP Film and Television Awards, winning four awards in the Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures category for the aforementioned songs, as well as "All For Love." He was also nominated four times for Golden Globe awards in the Original Song - Motion Picture category, most recently in 2002.

Adams has been the subject of several books, including Bryan Adams: Everything He Does by Sorelle Saidman.

Humanitarian Work

Bryan Adams also co-wrote (with Vallance and David Foster) and took a leading role in "Tears Are Not Enough." In the company of many rock and pop stars of the day, Adams participated in such other major humanitarian and political events as Live Aid (JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, 1985), the Amnesty International Conspiracy of Hope Tour (several US cities, 1986), Rock the World (for Greenpeace, Washington, DC, 1987), Freedomfest (in celebration of Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday, London, 1988), and Roger Waters' The Wall (Berlin, 1990). Some of these were televised internationally, as were the World Music Video Awards (1989), on which Adams appeared in a live performance from Moscow.

In similar company, Adams was heard on the live recordings The Prince's Trust Concert 1987 (2-A&M SP-91987) and Tina [Turner] Live in Europe (1987, 2-Cap C1-90126). He also appeared on The Wall Berlin 90 (Poly 846-661).

Two collections of Adams' photographic work have been published, both as fundraisers for charitable organizations including the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. The first, Made In Canada (1999), mixed shots of celebrities with portraits of breast cancer patients. The core of that collection was displayed at the Royal Ontario Museum. The second collection, Haven, was published in 2000.

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Bryan Adams

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