The album was written and recorded and produced by Adams and R.J. "Mutt" Lange in a house in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, from Winter 1994 to Summer 1995 and in two different houses in Provence, France, from Autumn 1995 to Spring 1996 using the Warehouse Studio Mobile Unit. Even the mix was done in a house in Provence, France, in March 1996 by Bob Clearmountain. Adams played some of these songs live before release; for example, he played "Let's Make a Night to Remember" at a soundcheck in a gig in 1993 during the So Far So Good World Tour. Adams had completed 12 songs by 1995, but felt that something was lacking in the album, and went back and recorded two new songs: "The Only Thing" and "18 til I Die". Adams then named the album 18 til I Die.
18 til I Die was officially released in June 1996. In the United States the album peaked at 31 on the Billboard 200 and held that position for three weeks. In Adams' native Canada, 18 til I Die reached number 4. The album was released in Australia, Europe and New Zealand in late June 1996. The album was a massive commercial success during its release in Europe, reaching number one on the UK Albums Chart, Adams' second in a row. 18 til I Die reached the top ten in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Austria, Sweden, Germany and Australia, and was a moderate top 20 success in France.
The album was certified platinum in the United States 18 til I Die was certified three times platinum in Canada and Australia and two times platinum in the UK.
18 til I Die included the hit singles "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman", "The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You", "Let's Make a Night to Remember", "Star", and "18 'Til I Die", all of which had accompanying music videos. "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" had been the number one song on the US Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks when originally released in spring 1995, while "Let's Make a Night to Remember", the second single from the album to chart in the United States, peaked at 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and #6 on the adult contemporary chart). The other singles became big hits in Europe. "The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You" was the most successful rock song from 18 til I Die, reaching number 5 on the UK Singles Chart and number 1 on the Canadian Singles Chart. The music video for "The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You" received heavy airplay on music television. In early 1997, the track "I'll Always Be Right There" became the album's final single, reaching #3 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart and #59 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart.
On 4 November 1996, a second Australian version of 18 til I Die was released, featuring the song "I Finally Found Someone" (a duet with Barbra Streisand) in place of "You're Still Beautiful to Me" and had an alternative cover with a purple background and a different track order, while the Japanese version contained the bonus song "Hey Elvis".