Nobody can argue with Bryan Adams’ success. The all-time best-selling male Canadian artist has co-written and performed some of the best-known songs of the 1980s and ‘90s, including rockers like “Cuts Like a Knife,” “Run to You,” “Summer of 69,” and “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started,” plus the ballads “Straight from the Heart” and “Heaven.”
Adams has also been responsible for mega-hit songs from movies, most notably the theme song “Everything I Do (I Do It for You)” from the Kevin Costner film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, which spent a record 16 straight weeks as the No. 1 song in the United Kingdom. He has also hit No. 1 with “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?” from Don Juan DeMarco, and “All For Love,” performed with Rod Stewart and Sting from The Three Musketeers. He even did the soundtrack for the 2002 DreamWorks animated film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.
At age 50, Adams shows no signs of slowing down. He is bringing his Bare Bones Tour — with him performing solo on acoustic guitar — to Santa Barbara for a show at 8 p.m. Sunday at The Granada, 1214 State St. Click here to purchase tickets from The Granada.
(Noozhawk has tickets to give away. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with Bryan Adams in the subject line to enter our drawing. We’ll be giving away two pairs of tickets.)
Adams recently took the time out of his busy schedule to answer the following questions by e-mail from Paris.
Jeff Moehlis: Many of your best-known songs were co-written with Jim Vallance. What did each of you bring to the songwriting partnership?
Bryan Adams: I used to bring the tea, Jim made the sandwiches. When we started writing in 1978, I was so broke I had to borrow bus fare to get to his place. The cool thing was that slowly but surely we saw results from the songs we were writing. It was really exciting. Jim is the far better musician, and thankfully he didn’t want to be a singer, otherwise I’d still be packing boxes somewhere in Canada.
JM: In researching for this interview, I learned that, early on, you and Jim co-wrote a couple of songs for KISS. (Specifically, Adams and Vallance co-wrote “War Machine” and “Rock and Roll Hell” with Gene Simmons.) How did that come about?
BA: We wrote songs for anyone who would give us the time of day, and why not? Like most musicians, we were ambitious and naive. All we wanted was to pay the rent, eat at the local curry house, and not have to do a day job.
JM: Can you describe what it was like to do a duet with Tina Turner on “It’s Only Love”?
BA: Singing with Tina could have been one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done on stage. I worked hard on getting the song to her, and luckily one of my colleagues was producing her album Private Dancer. That connection helped, but I wouldn’t have met him had I not written songs for a smaller project. So, you see, one thing always leads to the other.
JM: Could you reflect on the effect and influence of MTV on your music and career?
BA: They were a great channel in the beginning and really supportive of new music; they played the living hell out of “Cuts Like A Knife.” I still get guys coming up to me asking who the girl in the video was. Her name was Rachel by the way, and, no, I never dated her, but probably should have.
JM: In 1985 you were part of Live Aid. What are your memories of this event?
BA: I can barely remember what I did yesterday, never mind what I did when I was 25. I do remember wandering around, and bumping into my friend, Bob Clearmountain, who was there mixing the live sound for TV. He told me the lawyers had just walked into the truck and demanded that all recording of the event be stopped. So the DVD that exists of the show is Bob’s live mix, and it’s incredible. The producers of the show stuck me on as the first artist to go live to the world and I remember mumbling something dumb in the microphone like “Hello, World” or something to that effect … Once we’d finished our set, we flew to another state to do another show. I never saw the end of the broadcast and I’ve never watched my performance.
JM: Was it a thrill to contribute music to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver?
BA: That was really fun. Jim Vallance and I had written a song called “Bang The Drum,” which we gave to them, and the best bit for me was the Olympics using the themes from that song for the Canadian athletes to march out on. Not only that, it was also used as the theme for the largest gathering of young First Nations people ever. Unreal.
JM: How do you think that being from Canada has affected your music?
BA: It’s hard not to want to write about mounted police, lumberjacks, moose, beavers, etc, but somehow I get around it.
JM: What are your plans — musical or otherwise — for the near future?
BA: I’m touring all the time, I go out for a week or so every month, and I’m releasing an album of acoustic live tracks called Bare Bones — Live in November. This is mostly due to people wanting to hear the versions of the songs they just heard from the acoustic show.
Click here to read Jeff Moehlis’ complete interview with Bryan Adams.
— Noozhawk contributor Jeff Moehlis is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.