With his distinctive vocals and blue-collar songwriting skills, Canadian icon Bryan Adams’ take on rock ‘n’ roll basics found a niche that has lasted for over 20 years.
Adams’ solo career was launched with the release of his self-titled debut album Bryan Adams in February of 1980 on A&M Records. Adams had already been touring, recording demos and working as a studio musician paying his rent for a few years, but it was when Adams formed a song-writing partnership with drummer Jim Vallance that things started to happen.
The first album was not initially released in the U.S. (although “Hiding from Love” was issued as a single and reached Number 43 on the dance chart), so Adams assembled a backup band and embarked on his first Canadian tour as a solo act, spending four months playing clubs and colleges.
The tour was to be the foundation for his second album, You Want It, You Got It, which was recorded in New York City in two weeks and released in the spring of 1981. The original album title was Bryan Adams Hasn’t Heard of You Either but that title was rejected by A&M as being too provocative. This second album became Adams’ first “official” release in the U.S.
He toured America for six months, opening for The Kinks and Foreigner and by January of 1982 the album broke into the Billboard charts peaking at Number 118 in thirteen weeks. The single “Lonely Nights” became his first Hot 100 entry at Number 84 and peaked at Number Three on the mainstream rock chart.
His third album, Cuts Like a Knife was released in January of 1983, with the single “Straight from the Heart”, leading the way. It broke his career open, peaking in the Top Ten of the Hot 100 and setting up the LP, which followed. The album also reached Top Ten, selling platinum and spawning further Top 40 hits with the title song and “This Time”.
The album’s success was stimulated by Adams’ extensive touring in support of it, which began in Canada and continued into the U.S., where he opened for Journey. From there he toured Europe followed by dates in Japan and then back to Canada.
Adams’ fourth album Reckless was released on his 25th birthday, November 5, 1984, and was preceded by the single “Run to You”, which reached the Top Ten. It was followed by no less than five Top 20 singles drawn from the album: “Somebody”, “Heaven” (which hit number one), “Summer of ‘69” (Top Ten), “One Night Love Affair”, and a duet with Tina Turner, “It’s Only Love”.
Reckless reached Number One in the U.S. selling five million copies in America and a reported three million more in the rest of the world. Adams also earned his first two Grammy nominations, Best Male Rock Performance for the album as a whole, and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group for “It’s Only Love”. As per usual, Adams toured extensively in support of it. His “World Wide in ‘85” tour began in December of 1984 finally wrapping in November 1985. One of the highlights that year included being the first artist to open the American side of the Live Aid concert from Philadelphia on July 13th.
Into the Fire followed in March of 1987, prefaced by the single “Heat of the Night,” which became Adams’ fifth Top Ten hit in the U.S. The album reached the Top Ten in the U.S. and sold a million copies, with another million sold overseas. It also spawned the Top 40 hits “Hearts on Fire” and “Victim of Love”. Adams’ worldwide tour in support of the album went on for more than a year. One of the final shows, in Werchter, Belgium, was filmed for a television special, “Bryan Adams: Live in Belgium”, broadcast in Canada the following year.
Live! Live! Live!, a concert album drawn from the 1988 Belgium show, was initially released only in Japan but later garnered a wider audience. In a departure from earlier years, Adams did not tour extensively but opted to spend his time in England with writer/producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, preparing for his next album.
In June of 1991, Adams went back on the road in Europe co-headlining with ZZ Top. This coincided with the release of the single “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You”, which topped the U.S. charts for seven weeks—the longest any song had remained at Number One in eight years. Its international success was even greater; spending 16 weeks at Number One in the U.K., making it the longest-running chart-topper in the history of the British charts.
Waking Up the Neighbours was released in September of 1991, and Adams once again hit the road - this time until July of 1993. The album featured two Top Ten hits “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started” and of course, “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You”. Before it finished running its course there would be three more Top 40 hits, “There Will Never Be Another Tonight”, “Do I Have to Say the Words?” and “Thought I’d Died and Gone to Heaven”. Waking Up the Neighbours sold four million copies in the U.S. and another six million in the rest of the world. It also earned Adams a Grammy nomination and his first Academy Award nomination.
Adams began to look forward to his next studio album, but in the interim released a hits compilation, So Far So Good, in November 1993 featuring the single “Please Forgive Me,” a new Adams/Lange track. The song would also find its way into the Top Ten. Then came the Adams’ theme song for the movie “The Three Musketeers”, “All for Love”, recorded with Rod Stewart and Sting, which hit Number One in the U.S. in January of 1994. That same month, Adams embarked on an ambitious tour of the Far East, including countries like Vietnam that were rarely visited by Western pop artists.
Throughout the better part of 1994, Bryan kept a low profile with the exception of a song called “Rock Steady” written for Bonnie Raitt’s live album Road Tested. He performed the song as a duet with her, and the two soon shared a chart single.
At the beginning of 1996 Adams released a new album 18 ‘Til I Die. The album featured the flamenco-tinged “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” from the Johnny Depp/Marlon Brando film “Don Juan DeMarco”. Adams was rewarded with yet another Nmber One hit, as well as a Grammy nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and his second Oscar nomination for Best Song.
An 18-month world tour followed and the album soon went platinum in the U.S. The singles “Let’s Make a Night to Remember” charted briefly in the Top 40 and the provocatively titled “The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You” proved to do well outside of the US, but didn’t dent the US charts, perhaps due to the fact that his record company (A&M) transferred his contract in the middle of the release to independent rap label, Interscope Records.
Adams filmed an appearance for MTV’s popular Unplugged series in the fall of 1997, and it was released as an album in December. It was a modest success, and served as a stopgap until the appearance of his next studio album, On a Day Like Today, which was released in October 1998. Overseas, the disc featuring the Melanie C duet “When You’re Gone”, reached the UK No. 3 spot in December of 1998 and spent 10 weeks in the Top 10. This was followed by the Top 10 dance re-mix of “Cloud Number Nine”. The album also hit No. 3 in Canada.
In November 1999, Adams issued a second hits compilation, The Best of Me, but the American branch of A&M/Interscope declined to release it. The title track “The Best Of Me” charted all over Europe and in Canada.
Adams returned in the spring of 2002 collaborating with Hans Zimmer on his first full-length song score for a film, the animated DreamWorks feature “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron”. The soundtrack made it into the Top 40 and Adams and Zimmer earned a Golden Globe Nomination for their collaboration.
Room Service (2004) gives witness to Bryan's rock loyalty and consistency. This collection hits the full range of tempos while touching on every nerve of emotions from love lost, love found and reluctance in love. The album also touches on life lessons, from living life to the fullest to appreciating what you have.
The most recent work from the Canadian rocker is entitled 11, his eleventh studio album overall. The album is packed full of unmistakable rockers and signature ballads including the lead single, “I Thought I’d Seen Everything”, a rocky, mid-tempo track that has already gone onto radio playlists on both side of the Atlantic. Recorded largely in hotel rooms and backstage dressing rooms around the world during the past two years, 11 features the return of Adams' long time collaborator Jim Vallance on three cuts.