Brought up in Leeds, Adams left school to pursue a career in music. He initially played keyboards in a local band the Expelairs who released a handful of singles. He left the five-piece due to musical differences and took up bass. Inspired by Motorhead he began to channel his bass through distortion-effects. After a short conversation in a local bar with Andrew Eldritch he joined the Sisters of Mercy. Here Adams developed his songwriting abilities, contributing mainly to arrangements and using his high-pitched voice for backing vocals.
When the Sisters of Mercy disbanded, Adams formed The Mission (initially the Sisterhood) with Wayne Hussey recording four albums with the band and two compilations. As one of the co-founders, Adams' presence was pivotal in its success although his occasionally destructive behaviour brought a level of instability to the line-up. During the first tour of North America, Adams broke his hand while punching the window of the bus and was forced to return to the UK to recover. During the 'Deliverance' tour of 1990 guitarist Simon Hinkler left, signalling the disintegration of the band. After the release of the 1992 album Masque, Adams was sacked, with Hussey citing musical differences as the main motivation.