Arthur Adams (singer)

Arthur Adams (born December 25, 1943) is an American blues guitarist from Medon, Tennessee. Inspired by B.B. King and other 1950s artists, he played gospel music before attending college. He moved to Los Angeles, and during the 1960s and 1970s he released solo albums and worked as a session musician. In 1985 he was tapped to tour on bass guitar with Nina Simone,[1] and he staged a comeback in the 1990s when he released Back on Track, and became a respected Chicago blues player and bandleader in B.B. King's clubs.

Arthur Adams
Adams performing on stage in 2008
Adams performing on stage in 2008
Background information
Also known asArthur K. Adams
Born (1943-12-25) December 25, 1943 (age 77)
Medon, Tennessee, United States
GenresBlues, R&B
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, bandleader, film score
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, bass guitar
Years active1957–present
LabelsCleopatra Blues, a division of Cleopatra Records, RCA, Kent Records, Jamie Records, Modern Records, Blind Pig, Blue Thumb, Fantasy, Utopia, A&M, Dutchess Records, Chisa Records, Valdot Records, Kind of Blue Music
Associated actsNina Simone, B.B. King, Keb' Mo', Jimmy Smith

A prolific songwriter,[1] with a blues style that incorporated a variety of genres, and a vocalist with a funky, soul-driven sound, Adams is known for his collaboration with many of blues' elite and continues to perform to date.

Early lifeEdit

Arthur Adams was born on December 25, 1943, in Medon, Tennessee.[2] At the age of six, he sang in the church choir,[3] but did not begin playing the guitar until he was a teenager. In the mid-1950s, he learned the instrument from his mother, by copying her finger positions.[2][3] He was inspired by artists such as B.B. King, Howard Carroll of Dixie Hummingbirds,[1][4] Elmore James and Muddy Waters, which he listened to on the radio.[3]

Adams formed a group with his cousins, called the Gospel Travelers,[3] who toured Tennessee and Arkansas.[2] The group was disbanded when he moved to Tennessee to attend the State University,[3] where he studied music and played in the school's resident jazz and blues band.[4]

Professional careerEdit

Adams began playing the blues professionally at a local student bar called the Club Baron. He toured with Gene Allison's band[4] as a backup singer.[3] Allison had success in 1957 with "You Can Make It If You Try" on the Vee-Jay label. At the end of an ill-fated tour, Adams was stranded by Allison in Dallas.[1] He remained there from February 1959 until April 1964, working in local nightclubs including the Clubhouse and the Empire Room, playing with Lightnin' Hopkins, Chuck Berry, Elmore James, and Lowell Fulson. On one occasion, Adams supported Buddy Guy, and picked up his showmanship habit of walking through the audience in mid-solo.[3][4] Tenor saxophonist Jimmy Beck, who had a hit record, the instrumental "Pipe Dream" (on the Champion Records label), hired Arthur in 1959.[3] During his early career, he played gospel and blues.[3]

In the early 1960s, he produced several singles, including "If It Ain't One Thing It's Another"/"Willin' To Die" on Philadelphia-based Jamie Records, which was produced in Dallas by Al Klein, who went on to become a Motown representative.[3]

On the Dutchess record label, he released "I Had A Dream" in 1961.[5] He also released "The Same Thing"/"Tend To Your Business" on the Valdot label, which was owned by Nashville songwriter Ted Jarrett.[3]

On some of Adams' records, up until the late 1960s, he was credited as Arthur K. Adams – the "K" being a marketing device, with no particular significance. It was the idea of promoter/singer Scotty McKay (Max Karl Lipscomb).[3]

In 1964, Adams moved to Los Angeles, California, after a DJ in Fort Worth recommended Adams as a session player to Vee-Jay Records. Although he recorded a session, it was never released.[3] That same year, he began working as a session musician full-time, working with Quincy Jones, and recording singles for the notorious Bihari Brothers (on the Kent Records label), and for Hugh Masekela on the Chisa label.[4] The move was lucrative for Adams, who not only made a name for himself in the clubs, but also became a prolific studio musician, contributing to movies and soundtracks, playing on hundreds of sessions with artists ranging from Lou Rawls to Henry Mancini.[6]

In 1967, he performed music on the television movie The Outsider, which starred Darren McGavin. He then recorded a blues track, "She Drives Me Out of My Mind", on the Bihari brothers' Modern Records label.[3]

He produced both blues and soul music on the Modern label,[3] and with Edna Wright (later lead singer of Honey Cone), he sang a duet called "Let's Get Together", using the name Arthur & Mary.[3] Upon recommendation from Bobby Womack, Adams appeared in the house band for a TV program hosted by NFL defensive tackle Rosey Grier, who was also a singer. This led to further studio work in Los Angeles; he played on recordings by the Jackson 5, Henry Mancini, Lou Rawls, Willie Hutch, Sonny Bono, Nancy Wilson, Kim Weston, the Ballads (on their 1968 single "God Bless Our Love"), Sonny Charles & the Checkmates, Ltd. (on the 1969 single "Black Pearl", produced by Phil Spector), and others.[3]

He contributed to TV and movie soundtracks including Cactus Flower, Buck and the Preacher, The Bill Cosby Show, and Ironside. His song "Love And Peace" was covered by Quincy Jones on his Grammy Award-winning 1969 album Walking in Space.[3]

In the late 1960s he recorded several Rhythm and blues records with members of The Crusaders, co-produced by Stewart Levine.[4] In 1969 he released the single "It's Private Tonight" on the Motown-distributed Chisa Records label.[3] He then joined Bob Krasnow's Blue Thumb Records, and released his 1972 debut album, It's Private Tonight.[3] It was co-produced by Bonnie Raitt and Tommy LiPuma.[4] This featured artists such as The Crusaders' keyboardist Joe Sample and saxist Wilton Felder.[3] Conversely, Adams played on many of the Crusaders' 1970 jazz and funk LPs, including The Crusaders 1, The Second Crusade, Unsung Heroes, Those Southern Knights, and Free As the Wind.[3]

In 1967, Adams performed in a cameo appearance for the made-for-television movie, The Outsiders, playing a rendition of "She Drives Me Out of My Mind".[1]

He released four more albums during the decade.[6] Adams' style became progressively more funk-oriented, with the release of three further albums, Home Brew (1975, Fantasy Records), Midnight Serenade (the follow-up, also Fantasy Records), and I Love Love Love My Lady on A&M.[3] He also co-wrote "Truckload of Lovin'" with Jimmy Lewis, which was the eponymous track on Albert King's 1976 Utopia Records album.[3]

During the latter 1970s, Adams changed style and played soul.[3] In 1981 he had a surprise hit called You Got the Floor which reached number 1 in the UK disco chart that year and 38 in the UK singles chart. Indeed, in the UK it was the one 12" single track released on RCA records that he will be remembered by. He also recorded more solo albums, but in the 1980s he returned to his blues roots,[3] occasionally working as a session guitarist for various groups.[4] After tiring of session work,[6] in 1985 Adams became the bassist for Nina Simone on her 1995 European tour as well as recording on and contributing songs to the Nina's Back[7] album.[3]

In 1986, he recorded a session for a Church's Fried Chicken commercial, with harpist Chris Smith.[3] By 1987, Adams was fronting his own blues band, and again performing live.[3] He wrote two songs, which appeared on for B.B. King's 1992 album There is Always One More Time.[4] Adams became a bandleader at B. B. King's blues club in Los Angeles,[3][4] often performing with drummer James Gadson.[8]

Adams recorded a version of Ann Peebles soul classic "I Can't Stand the Rain" for the movie Town And Country, starring Goldie Hawn.[3] He performed at the St. Louis Blues Heritage Festival in August 1997, and in November at the Utrecht Blues Estafette in The Netherlands.[3]

In 1999, he released the album Back on Track, his first solo release in 20 years.[4] B.B. King guested on the album on guitar.[4] This was his first release on the Blind Pig record label.[3][9] Adams wrote eight out of the eleven tracks,[6] combining the three styles of gospel, blues and soul.[10] Tracks include two duets with King ("Got You Next To Me" and "The Long Haul")[3] – both composed by Adams and Will Jennings.[3][9]

In 2004, he released Soul of the Blues.[4]

In September 2012 he released a two-song single called "Feet Back in the Door" produced by multi-Grammy Award-winning musician Keb' Mo'.



Title Year Label
It's Private Tonight 1972 Blue Thumb
Home Brew 1975 Fantasy
Midnight Serenade 1977 Fantasy
I Love Love Love My Lady 1979 A&M
Back on Track 1999 Blind Pig
Soul of the Blues 2004 PM
Stomp the Floor 2009 Delta Groove
Feet Back in the Door EP 2012 Kind of Blue Music

Charted singlesEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e "Arthur Adams", Artist Releases, Back on Track, Blind Pig Records, pp. Artist releases biography, 2006, retrieved January 17, 2010
  2. ^ a b c Larkin 2006
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai Blind Pig Records
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Bogdanov, Woodstra & Erlewine 2003, p. 2
  5. ^ 45 Discography for Dutchess Records, retrieved August 10, 2009
  6. ^ a b c d Houff 1999
  7. ^ "Nina Simone – Nina's Back (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  8. ^ Living Blues Magazine, p. 41
  9. ^ a b Allmusic "Back on Track"
  10. ^ Sikorski 1999
  11. ^ Rice, Rice & Gambaccini 1990, p. 19
  12. ^ Roberts, David (2006), British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.), London: Guinness World Records Limited, p. 14, ISBN 1-904994-10-5


External linksEdit