Barry Adamson

Barry Adamson (born 11 June 1958)[1] is an English pop and rock musician, composer, writer, photographer and filmmaker. He came to prominence in the late 1970s as a member of the post-punk band Magazine and went on to work with Visage, The Birthday Party, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and the electro musicians Pan Sonic. In addition to prolific solo work, Adamson has also remixed Grinderman, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Recoil and Depeche Mode. He created the seven-minute opus Useless (Escape From Wherever: Pts. 1 & 2) remix for the latter band in 1997. He also worked on the soundtrack for David Lynch's surrealistic crime film Lost Highway.

Barry Adamson
Barry Adamson at Primavera Sound Festival Barcelona, 1 June 2007
Barry Adamson at Primavera Sound Festival
Barcelona, 1 June 2007
Background information
Born (1958-06-11) 11 June 1958 (age 63)
Moss Side, Manchester, England
Years active1977–present
LabelsCentral Control International, Mute
Associated actsMagazine, Buzzcocks, Visage, Pete Shelley, The Birthday Party, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Pan Sonic


Early lifeEdit

Adamson was born in Moss Side, Manchester, England to a white mother and a black father.[2] He read comic books from an early age. At school he immersed himself in art, music and film and produced his first song - "Brain Pain" - at the age of 10. His diverse musical tastes range from Alice Cooper to Motown to David Bowie.


After leaving school, Adamson drifted into graphic design whilst attending Stockport Art College[3] but quit shortly after, preferring to venture into the exploding punk rock scene of the late 1970s. He joined ex-Buzzcocks singer Howard Devoto's band Magazine to play the bass guitar, with whom he scored one chart single, "Shot by Both Sides"; in late 1977, he also joined the Buzzcocks, as a temporary replacement for Garth Smith. He played on all of Magazine's albums in their original incarnation and contributed to Devoto's solo album and his next band, Luxuria. He also contributed to the studio-based band Visage, playing on the ensemble's first two albums, Visage and The Anvil.

After Magazine broke up, Adamson worked with another ex-Buzzcock, Pete Shelley, before joining Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, featuring on four of their albums: From Her to Eternity, The Firstborn Is Dead, Kicking Against the Pricks and Your Funeral, My Trial. After his stint with the band and a European tour with Iggy Pop in 1987, he went solo, releasing an EP, The Man with the Golden Arm in 1988, and his first solo album, Moss Side Story, the following year, the "soundtrack" to a non-existent film noir.[4] The album incorporated newscasts and sampled sound effects and featured guest musicians Marcia Schofield (of The Fall), Diamanda Galas, and former colleagues from the Bad Seeds.[4] Adamson's second solo album was the soundtrack to a real film this time – Carl Colpaert's Delusion, and he would go on to provide soundtracks for several other films.[4]

Adamson's third album, Soul Murder, was shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize in 1992.[4][5]

His solo work has mostly been influenced by John Barry, Elmer Bernstein and Ennio Morricone, whilst his later works include jazz, electronica, soul, funk, and dub-styles.

In 1996, Adamson contributed to the AIDS-Benefit Album, Offbeat: A Red Hot Soundtrip, produced by the Red Hot Organization. His own album that year, Oedipus Schmoedipus, reached #51 in the UK Albums Chart.[6] It would later be included in the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die list, along with Moss Side Story.[7]

In 2002, Adamson left his long-term label, Mute Records, and started his own production home, Central Control International. In 2006, he released Stranger on the Sofa, first for his Central Control International imprint, to critical acclaim. Back to the Cat, his second album for the label, was released in March 2008.[8]

In 2007 it was announced that Magazine would re-form for concerts in 2008. Adamson took part in the same band line-up that recorded Secondhand Daylight, with the exception of the late John McGeoch, who was replaced by Apollo 440 member Noko. However, Adamson has since withdrawn from the reunion and new recordings.

On 27 August 2010, Adamson released "Rag and Bone", as a digital download and as a 12-inch vinyl record. He then released a studio album, I Will Set You Free, on 30 January 2012.[9]

Adamson rejoined the Bad Seeds for the release of their 2013 album, Push the Sky Away, playing bass guitar on two songs. He also toured with the band on drums and keyboards, to fill in for an ailing Thomas Wydler.[10]

His 2016 album Know Where To Run was accompanied by a book with photos that Adamson shot in the US while on tour with Nick Cave. 2018 saw the release of Memento Mori, an album celebrating his 40th anniversary as a professional musician, which was followed by a concert at the Union Chapel in London. A recording of this concert was released on vinyl and CD.

Soundtrack materialEdit

Adamson's "Refugee Song" was included in Derek Jarman's The Last of England. Adamson also contributed soundtrack material to Gas Food Lodging, David Lynch's Lost Highway and Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers. Back to the Cat's opening track, "The Beaten Side of Town", was featured in the video game Alan Wake. He also contributed substantial material to the Delusion soundtrack, which has also been released.


In the earliest Real Life Magazine videos, Adamson played a Rickenbacker 4001, and on Secondhand Daylight, a Gibson EB-3. His primary bass during Magazine's touring was an Ovation Magnum 2. The Ovation can be seen in Magazine's appearance in Urgh! A Music War as well as on the cover of the live album Play. For the 2008 Magazine concerts, he alternated between the Ovation, a Fender Artist and a Fender Jaguar Bass. He often used a Boss Chorus unit on his basses, giving a slightly processed sound that was much imitated in the UK 1980s rock scene.[11]


In his autobiography, It's So Easy (And Other Lies), Duff McKagan of Guns N' Roses said he was influenced by bass-driven bands such as that of Barry Adamson in Magazine.[12] In an interview with German music magazine Gitarre & Bass, Billy Gould of Faith No More said that Adamson was one of his influences, because he combined Soul music with post-punk when he played with Magazine.[13]



2018 Memento Mori (anthology)
2016 Know Where To Run
2012 I Will Set You Free
2008 Back to the Cat
2006 Stranger on the Sofa
2002 King of Nothing Hill
1999 The Murky World of Barry Adamson (compilation)
1998 As Above, So Below
1996 Oedipus Schmoedipus
1992 Soul Murder
1989 Moss Side Story


Year Title
2021 Steal Away
2017 Love Sick Dick
1998 Can't Get Loose
1996 Achieved in the Valley of the Dolls
1995 The Big Bamboozle
1995 Movieology
1993 The Negro Inside Me
1992 Cinema Is King
1989 Taming of the Shrewd


Year Title
2016 "Up in the Air"
2010 "Rag and Bone" (12" and download)
2008 "Straight 'til Sunrise" (download only)
2006 "The Long Way Back Again" (CD and 7")
2002 "Whispering Streets"
2002 "Black Amour"
2001 "Motorlab #3" (with Pan Sonic)
1999 "The Crime Scene"
1998 "Jazz Devil"
1998 "What it Means"
1991 "These Boots Are Made For Walking" (with Anita Lane)
1988 "The Man with the Golden Arm"


Year Title
2001 The World of Interiors
2000 The Beach
1997 To Have And To Hold
1997 Lost Highway
1994 Natural Born Killers
1992 Gas Food Lodging
1991 Delusion
1987 The Last of England


  1. ^ "Biography".
  2. ^ "The Mancunian Candidate", The Face, 2 January 1997. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  3. ^ Bracewell, Michael (1997) "The Mancunian Candidate Archived 22 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine", Frieze Magazine, Issue 32, Jan–Feb 1997
  4. ^ a b c d Larkin, Colin (ed.) (1998) The Virgin Encyclopedia of Indie & New Wave, Virgin Books, ISBN 0-7535-0231-3
  5. ^ "Nationwide Mercurys". Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  6. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 15. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  7. ^ "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die". 1001 Before You Die. Quintessence Editions. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  8. ^ Unterberger, Richie "Barry Adamson Biography", Allmusic, Macrovision Corporation
  9. ^ Barry Adamson. "I Will Set You Free: Music". Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 December 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Barry Adamson - Interview - 2014". Archived from the original on 4 August 2018. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  12. ^ "It's So Easy (And Other Lies)" Duff McKagan, 2011
  13. ^ Anders, Marcel (2015) "Faith No More Bassist Billy Gould im Interview

External linksEdit