Artists are a unique breed of person, bred to create and inspire rather than destroy. It’s not uncommon for an artist to delve into changing facets of art, and perhaps the most inspiring portrayal of this can be found in Ryan Adams. Singer, painter, poet, and musician, Adams has, throughout the course of his life, evolved from writing limericks on his grandmother’s typewriter to becoming one of the most influential recording artists of our modern day.
Adams began his music career with an interest in punk and rock and roll, getting his first taste when his mother bought him his first electric guitar. He dropped out of school in his sophomore year of high school and swiftly moved through a succession of punk bands, including Blank Label, The Patty Duke Syndrome, The Lazy Stars, and one band simply named Ass.
At the age of 19 Adams left his hometown of Jacksonville, North Carolina, and moved to Raleigh. He was still with the Patty Duke Syndrome at this time, but in Raleigh he met a violinist named Caitlin Cary and, along with guitarist Phil Wandscher, formed the band Whiskeytown, his first commercial success. Whiskeytown created a unique blend of pop and classic country stylings that brought back elements of the country music from the 1960’s. Adams has even mentioned alternative country singers Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard as some of his main influences.
Needless to say, Whiskeytown was praised by the local press, and after their first album release (Faithless Street) with a local label, Whiskeytown signed on with Outpost Records to record their 1997 smash hit Stranger’s Almanac. They recorded another album, Pneumonia, but due to label issues it wasn’t released until 2001. In 2000, Wandscher had left the band and Adams decided to move towards a solo career, beginning with his album Heartbreaker in 2000. Like Adams’ other work, this compilation of alt-country was critically very well received, though commercially it didn’t achieve the same success.
Throughout the course of his solo career, from 200-2004, Ryan Adams released a total of 5 full length albums, as well as a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance for his cover of Wonderwall, by Oasis.
In 2005, Ryan Adams entered into his most commercially successful venture with The Cardinals, a country rock band that became notorious for its high turnover rate with band members. Ryan Adams stayed with them for 7 studio albums, including Class Mythology, which was released in April 2011.
In 2009, Ryan Adams married singer/actress Mandy Moore and took a hiatus from The Cardinals, and music in general. He went back to music in 2010 with Orion, a solo album that pulled together various metal and hard rock influences in what was often considered his most diverse work yet.