Still in Heaven

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Still in Heaven

Grammy winning rocker Bryan Adams talks about dealing with fame and how he’s managed to hold it all together for so long

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Published: Wed 23 Mar 2011, 9:21 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:13 AM

IT WAS A little more than 30 years ago when Bryan Adams set out from his native Canada to make a name for himself as a musician and songwriter.

He hoped for a foot in the door. What he got, and didn’t necessarily bargain for, was success on a global scale, boasting record sales of tens of millions.

The 51-year-old dad-to-be (he’s expecting his first child with personal assistant Alicia Grimaldi) continues to tour, bringing his treasure trove of hits (his biggest came during the 1990s) to some of the world’s more remote markets such as India and Nepal.

On March 21 he received a permanent home in Los Angeles with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It’s a long way from being “just a spotty kid from North Van,” as Adams describes his pimply self in the early days.

You famously signed with A&M Records in 1979 for one dollar. Can you explain the circumstances of that deal?

They were cheap as chits and didn’t want to invest any money in me, and it was the time when I needed it most. But in those days, the idea of getting your foot in the door was everything. All they really wanted were the songs, but we made an agreement — and this is probably the one redeeming thing about the deal — where they could have a few of my songs under the condition that I get to record some myself. So I got a shot. I did say to the label, “Could I have that dollar, please?” And they sent me a check, which I still have.

You reached your career high at 27 when promotion was winding down for your fourth album, the multiplatinum Reckless. How did you not end up with an alcohol or drug addiction, as so many musicians often do?

First of all, I decided to make an album called Into the Fire, which is kind of how I felt. Reckless was such a big album in 1985, and it was a lot to take. There’s not an instruction manual on how to deal with success, so you just have to rely on having great friends and a good team.

I’m really grateful to my manager, Bruce Allen, and producer Mutt Lange because both had seen it before with different artists. And I had a great girlfriend at the time, Vicki Russell, who was a child actress and her father was a director, so she was able to laugh at the situation and help me see the humour in it. Plus, I was never really interested in drugs or alcohol at all.

One Canadian who’s seeing international success is Justin Bieber.

His success is incredible. I wish him lots of strength and hope he can keep his sense of humour about it, too.

You were involved in one of the greatest benefit concerts of all time, Live Aid. What do you remember of that day in 1985?

I had two gigs that day. I opened Live Aid, got blown away by that, and then we got in a plane and flew to the next town, where we had to play a gig that night. So I didn’t even get to see the show and hardly got to participate. I had to slot it in among many other things we were doing at the time. Live Aid was possibly the greatest live concert ever. Woodstock would’ve come close in terms of its breadth, but Live Aid was far more watched.”

As a result of Live Aid, it has become the norm for musicians to band together for a cause or to aid in relief after a natural disaster. And it seems especially appropriate now, on the heels of the earthquake in Japan.

It’s more rare these days, but it’s part of the sense of community among musicians and singers. Like when we did the Prince’s Trust in London, it was incredible. Backstage there were so many different people working on songs together, the greats of the record business: Eric Clapton, David Bowie, Jagger, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Mark Knopfler, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart.

You’d have to pinch yourself. So when everybody pulls together like that, things get done. I’m wondering when someone is going to put something together for Japan. I’ve been thinking about it for a few days now. It would be great if the rock community got together for Japan because Japan has given so much to all the rockers over the years. Everybody has spent time there.

You performed on American Idol three seasons back. Would you have any interest in judging a singing show like Idol or The X-Factor?

I would have a really hard time being on television that long and also being critical of other musicians. I don’t really like to criticise people.

If you were starting out today, would you take the talent-show route?

I probably wouldn’t get in. Too many spots.

Did you want to be famous?

I didn’t understand what that meant because I really wanted to be a working musician. The craft was everything to me. To be a celebrity, I couldn’t think of anything more cringe-worthy. I would shun the limelight completely and didn’t really want to be out there. Laughing at it is key; if you can laugh at yourself, you never cease to be amused.

Victim of love?

While Adams has stayed away from the stereotypical image of a celebrity rocker, news of his impending fatherhood took fans by surprise.

The singer recently announced that his personal assistant Alicia Grimaldi (with whom he’s expecting his first child) will soon “be running the family now”. But British tabloid Daily Mail revealed yesterday that Adams has been secretly dating another woman for the past two years.

Advertising Executive Antonia Harrison is the mystery woman who is said to have been wined and dined by the rocker in a “discreet” manner. Adams who is rumoured to have dated supermodel Elle McPherson at one point was also accused by a former girlfriend of cheating on her with the Princess of Wales.

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