|Birth name||Laten John Adams|
|Born||January 5, 1932|
|Origin||New Orleans, Louisiana, United States|
|Died||September 14, 1998
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States
|Genres||Gospel, R&B, soul, jazz|
|Labels||Ric, Gone, Modern, Watch, SSS International, Atlantic, Ariola, Rounder|
Laten John Adams (January 5, 1932 – September 14, 1998), known as Johnny Adams, was an American blues, jazz and gospel singer, known as "The Tan Canary" for the multi-octave range of his singing voice, his swooping vocal mannerisms and falsetto. His biggest hits were his versions of "Release Me" and "Reconsider Me" in the late 1960s.
Life and career
He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the oldest of 10 children, and became a professional musician on leaving school. He began his career singing gospel with the Soul Revivers and Bessie Griffin's Consolators, but crossed over to secular music in 1959. His neighbor, songwriter Dorothy LaBostrie, supposedly persuaded him to start performing secular music after hearing him sing in the bathtub, and he recorded LaBostrie's ballad "I Won't Cry" for Joe Ruffino's local Ric label. Produced by teenager Mac Rebennack (later known as Dr. John), the record became a local hit, and he recorded several more singles for the label over the next three years, mostly produced either by Rebennack or Eddie Bo. His first national hit came in 1962, when "A Losing Battle", written by Rebennack, reached #27 on the Billboard R&B chart.
After Ruffino's death in 1963, Adams left Ric and recorded for a succession of labels, including Eddie Bo's Gone Records, the Los Angeles-based Modern Records, and Wardell Quezergue's Watch label. However, his records had limited success until he signed with Shelby Singleton's Nashville-based SSS International Records in 1968. A reissue of his recording of "Release Me", originally released on Watch, reached Number 34 on the R&B chart and #82 on the pop chart. Its follow-up, "Reconsider Me", a country song produced by Singleton, became his biggest hit, reaching Number 8 on the R&B chart and Number 28 on the pop chart in 1969. Two more singles, "I Can't Be All Bad" and "I Won't Cry" (a reissue of the Ric recording) were lesser hits later the same year, and the label released an album, Heart and Soul. However, he left SSS International in 1971, and recorded unsuccessfully for several labels, including Atlantic and Ariola, over the next few years. At the same time, he began performing regularly at Dorothy's Medallion Lounge in New Orleans as well as touring nightclubs in the south.
In 1983, he signed with Rounder Records, and began recording a series of nine critically acclaimed albums with producer Scott Billington. Beginning with From the Heart in 1984, the records encompassed a wide range of jazz, blues and R&B styles while highlighting Adams' voice. The albums included tributes to songwriters Percy Mayfield and Doc Pomus, as well as the jazz-influenced Good Morning Heartache which included the work of composers like George Gershwin and Harold Arlen. The albums, which also included Room With A View Of The Blues (1988), Walking On A Tightrope (1989), and The Real Me (1991), brought him a number of awards, including a W.C. Handy Award. He also toured internationally, including frequent trips to Europe, and worked and recorded with such musicians as Aaron Neville, Harry Connick Jr., Lonnie Smith, and Dr. John.
Singles (chart hits only)
|Year||Title||Label & Cat. No.||U.S. Pop||U.S. R&B|
|1962||"A Losing Battle"||Ric 986||
|1968||"Release Me"||SSS International 750||
|1969||"Reconsider Me"||SSS International 770||
|1969||"I Can't Be All Bad"||SSS International 780||
|1970||"I Won't Cry"||SSS International 809
Originally released as Ric 961
|1978||"After All The Good Is Gone"||Ariola 7701||
- Heart & Soul (SSS International, 1969)
- I Won't Cry (Ric, 1971)
- A Christmas in New Orleans with Johnny Adams (Ace, 1975)
- Stand By Me (Chelsea, 1976)
- After All the Good Is Gone (Ariola, 1978)
- From the Heart (Rounder, 1984)
- After Dark (Rounder, 1985)
- Room With A View of the Blues (Rounder, 1988)
- Walking on a Tightrope (Rounder, 1989)
- The Real Me: Johnny Adams Sings Doc Pomus (Rounder, 1991)
- Good Morning Heartache (Rounder, 1993)
- The Verdict (Rounder, 1995)
- One Foot in the Blues (Rounder, 1996)
- Man of My Word (Rounder, 1998)
- Obituary, The Scotsman, at Jazzhouse.org
- Biography by Bill Dahl at Allmusic.com
- Johnny Adams at RandysRodeo.com
- Obituary, Louisiana Music Archive and Artist Directory
- Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 6. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 4.