David Ryan Adams (born November 5, 1974) is an American alt-country/rock singer-songwriter from Jacksonville, North Carolina. Initially a member of the group Whiskeytown, after three albums Adams went solo, releasing Heartbreaker in 2000. A longtime resident of New York City, Adams is probably best known for his song "New York, New York", which appeared on his 2001 release Gold. He has since released five more solo albums and three albums with his band, The Cardinals. His most recent album, Cardinology, was released on October 28, 2008.
Adams has also produced albums by Jesse Malin and Willie Nelson and contributed to the albums of various artists, including: Toots & the Maytals, Beth Orton, , Minnie Driver, Counting Crows, America and Cowboy Junkies. He also appeared on CMT Crossroads with Elton John.
In early 2009 Adams left The Cardinals and announced that he was taking an indefinite hiatus from music.
Adams has also written two books of short stories and poems, entitled Infinity Blues and Hello Sunshine. Beginning in August 2009, Adams began blogging for The Awl .
Adams married singer and actress Mandy Moore on March 10, 2009 in Savannah, Georgia.
Ryan Adams was born on November 5, 1974, in Jacksonville, North Carolina. When he was eight years old, Adams began writing short stories and poetry on his grandmother's typewriter. He is quoted as saying, "I started writing short stories when I was really into Edgar Allan Poe. Then later, when I was a teenager, I got really hard into cult fiction: Hubert Selby, Jr., Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac." At the age of 14 Adams began learning to play the electric guitar that his mom and stepdad had bought him, and shortly afterwards joined a local band named Blank Label. Although Blank Label did not stay together long, a three-track 7" record exists, dated 1991 and lasting less than seven minutes in total.
Adams dropped out of high school in his first week of tenth grade, moving into bandmate Jere McIlwean's rental house just outside Jacksonville. Around this time he performed briefly with two local bands, Ass and The Lazy Stars. Following this, Adams joined The Patty Duke Syndrome and once played in a bar in Jacksonville. After obtaining his GED, Adams left Jacksonville for Raleigh, shortly followed by McIlwean. The Patty Duke Syndrome split in 1994 after releasing a 7" single containing two songs (The Patty Duke Syndrome was on one side, while the other side was a band called GlamourPuss).
Main article: Whiskeytown
Following the break up of The Patty Duke Syndrome, Adams went on to found Whiskeytown with Caitlin Cary, Eric "Skillet" Gilmore, Steve Grothmann and Phil Wandscher. The founding of Whiskeytown saw Adams move to alt-country, describing punk rock as "too hard to sing" in the title track of Whiskeytown's debut album Faithless Street. Whiskeytown was heavily influenced by the country-rock pioneers, most notably Gram Parsons (with whom Adams shares a birthday). Whiskeytown quickly gained critical acclaim with the release of their second full-length album, Strangers Almanac, their first major label release.
Adams made his solo debut in 2000, with Heartbreaker (produced by Ethan Johns). Emmylou Harris, who was originally Gram Parsons' singing partner, sang backup on "Oh My Sweet Carolina." Other backing vocals and instruments were provided by Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and Kim Richey as Adams embraced a style more reminiscent of folk music. It was met with considerable critical success, but sales were slow.
Adams released Gold, the follow up to Heartbreaker in 2001. It was well received, however Adams voted against making videos or doing a radio station meet-and-greet type tour for more recording and some live dates. A video was eventually made for album's first single, "New York, New York". The music video featured Adams performing in front of the city's skyline four days before the September 11, 2001 attacks. The video was played often on MTV and VH1 after the attacks and became Adams' breakthrough to mainstream music consumers.
Following the success of Gold, in 2002 Adams was blocked by his label from releasing the recorded follow up. This would be the second time this happened, the first being with Gold, Adams had recorded "the Suicide Handbook" which was rejected on the grounds that it was "too sad". The label opted this time around to cherry pick from the four recorded albums already dismissed as releasable full albums ("48 Hours", "The Suicide Handbook", "The Pinkhearts" and "The Swedish Sessions") for a mix tape type record assembled without his involvement. Demolition, A compilation of tracks from these recording sessions was released instead of the intended album in 2002. Although the album garnered more critical attention it failed to sell as well as Gold. That same year, Adams produced Jesse Malin's first album, The Fine Art of Self Destruction, and later worked with Malin to form the punk-rock group The Finger (under the pseudonyms, "Warren Peace" and "Irving Plaza" respectively), who released two E.P.s which were collected together to form We Are Fuck You, released on One Little Indian Records in 2003. He also starred in a Gap advertisement with Willie Nelson, performing a cover of Hank Williams' "Move It On Over."
In May 2002, Adams joined Elton John on CMT Crossroads, which brings together country artists with musicians from other genres. During the show, John referred to Adams as "fabulous one" and spoke of how Heartbreaker inspired him to record Songs from the West Coast, which at the time was his most successful album in several years. Also in 2002, Adams reportedly recorded a cover of The Strokes' debut album Is This It, though it has never been publicly released.
During 2002 and 2003 Adams worked on recording Love Is Hell, intending to release it in 2003. Lost Highway deemed that it was not commercially viable and was reluctant to release it, leading Adams to go back to the studio. Two weeks later he returned to Lost Highway with Rock n Roll, which featured guest musicians including Melissa Auf der Maur, Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, and Adams' girlfriend at the time, Parker Posey.
Adams and Lost Highway eventually agreed that the label would release Rock N Roll as well as Love Is Hell, on the condition that Love Is Hell be split into two EP installments. Rock N Roll and Love Is Hell, Pt. 1 were released in November 2003, followed by Love Is Hell, Pt. 2 in December. Both albums were well received by critics, and in May 2004 Love Is Hell was re-released as a full-length album.
Love Is Hell included a cover of Oasis' "Wonderwall", which Adams had previously performed live, and about which Noel Gallagher once said, "I never got my head round this song until I went to Ryan Adams play and he did an amazing cover of it." The song earned Adams a Grammy nomination for "Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance".
While on tour to support Love Is Hell in January 2004, Adams broke his left wrist during a performance at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool. Adams fell off the end of the stage into the lowered orchestra pit six feet below, while performing "The Shadowlands". Dates from Adams' European and American tours had to be cancelled as a result of his injury.
Main article: The Cardinals (rock band)
Adams live with The Cardinals in November 2008
2005 saw Adams join with backing band The Cardinals to produce two albums, Cold Roses and Jacksonville City Nights. Cold Roses, a double album, included backing vocals from Rachael Yamagata on three songs; "Let It Ride", "Cold Roses" and "Friends". His second album of the year, Jacksonville City Nights, featured a duet with Norah Jones on "Dear John". As well as releasing two albums with The Cardinals, Adams released the solo album 29 late in the year.
In addition to releasing three albums, that year Adams joined other musicians in playing a Hurricane Katrina benefit show at Irving Plaza in New York City. He also contributed three songs to the soundtrack of Elizabethtown; "Come Pick Me Up", "English Girls Approximately", and a new song called "Words", which was pulled from 2005's The Elizabethtown sessions, which remains unreleased, but is floating amongst collectors as Darkbreaker.
Adams befriended Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, after first meeting him at the Jammys awards in New York in 2005. The two performed Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter's Grateful Dead classic, "Wharf Rat". Adams performed at subsequent outings of Phil Lesh and Friends, including a two-night stand at Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside of Denver, Colorado and on New Year's Eve 2005 at the Bill Graham Event Center in San Francisco. Throughout 2006, Lesh's live performances included compositions by Adams, including several from Cold Roses ("Cold Roses", "Let It Ride", and "Magnolia Mountain").
In early 2006 Adams performed a solo tour of the United Kingdom, often accompanied by Brad Pemberton (drummer for The Cardinals) and on the final date in London by Carina Round, who performed harmony vocals on 'Come Pick Me Up' from his first solo album- 'Heartbreaker'. Also present was Cardinals guitarist- Neal Casal. Adams then toured the United States with The Cardinals, including a performance at Lollapalooza in Chicago. Adams and The Cardinals then returned to the UK in the summer to begin a tour of Europe.
Adams produced Willie Nelson's album Songbird, while he and The Cardinals performed as Nelson's backing band. The album was released in October, 2006. He also opened for Nelson at the Hollywood Bowl later that fall, a show that featured Phil Lesh on bass and multiple Grateful Dead songs. Late in 2006, Adams experimented with hip hop music, adding to his web site 18 albums worth of new recordings under various pseudonyms, featuring humorous and nonsensical lyrics.
Adams was scheduled to play Stonehenge when the Stonehenge society had to cancel the gigs to an overwhelming response to email or call-in for free tickets. They feared the highway would have to be shut down during the performance due to overwhelming demand for tickets. Adams released his ninth album on June 26, 2007, titled Easy Tiger. The album includes many tracks which were debuted during 2006's tours, as well as other older tracks which were previously unreleased. Later that year, Adams revealed that he had endured "an extended period of substance abuse" that ended in 2006. Adams indicated that he routinely snorted heroin mixed with cocaine, and abused alcohol and pills. Adams beat his addiction with the assistance of his girlfriend at the time, Jessica Joffe, using Valium therapy and occasionally attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.
On October 23, 2007, Adams released Follow the Lights, an EP featuring three new songs: "Follow The Lights","Blue Hotel" and "My Love For You Is Real", along with live studio versions of other previously released songs. Adams also appeared as a guest musician on Cowboy Junkies' 2007 album and DVD Trinity Revisited, a 20th-anniversary re-recording of their classic album The Trinity Session. In 2007 Adams co-wrote a song with Australian singer/songwriter Krista Polvere for her debut record Here Be Dragons; he also played guitar and piano on the album, which was recorded in New York.
A new album with The Cardinals, Cardinology was released on October 28, 2008. Adams has also announced plans to release a book, entitled Infinity Blues. According to Lost Highway chairman, Luke Lewis, there will be an "anthology" release in 2009, featuring several new songs.
On January 14, 2009, Ryan Adams announced that he was quitting the Cardinals after their final show on March 20, 2009 at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. Adams cited hearing loss due to M?ni?re's disease as well as disillusionment with the music industry, the media and audience behavior as reasons for his decision. He also stated that he has been working on two new books, in addition to Infinity Blues. The second book, to be released fall 2009, is entitled Hello Sunshine (Preorders of Hello Sunshine were shipped on 18 August by publisher Akashic Books).
In April 2009, Adams uploaded three new tracks under his black metal moniker Werewolph, and five hard rock tracks under the name Sleazy Handshake.
When asked about the Cardinals' future, guitarist Neal Casal stated that: "I have absolutely no idea what the future holds. The Cardinals were the best band I?ve ever been in, and I would love to play with them again. Only time will tell what?s going to happen. I?ll certainly miss it a lot."
In May 2009, drummer Brad Pemberton stated that: "everyone was a bit fried, so it was the right time to step back for a minute. I encouraged Ryan to go and get married, and have a life and find some peace; the guy hasn?t really slowed down in ten years, and he needed it as much as we did. Ryan and I have shared too much and are too good of friends to not ever do anything again, but I think we all need to do our own thing for a minute."
The Cardinals, without Adams, have recorded together alongside Gin Wigmore for her debut album.
In August 2009, Adams began posting on the fan-site, Ryan Adams Archive, discussing the possibility of a Whiskeytown reunion, new songs and the releasing his many 'unreleased' albums.
In September 2009, Adams debuted a new song online, entitled "Happy Birthday", and released a new single, PAX-AM Digital Single No. 1, featuring previously unreleased material.