† 11-27-1945 – 12-19-2010
Biography Glen Adams
Glen was born in Kingston on November 27th 1945, the son of Jamaican mother and a Vincentian father. During his youth he attended Holy Cross Senior School and Tutorial College, although music soon became his greatest passion and by his teens, he was singing in a local vocal group. After performing on Vere Johns’ ‘Opportunity Hour’ in 1961, he was approached by up-and-coming record producer, Clement ‘Coxson’ Dodd, who arranged for the wanna-be singer to cut his own number, ‘Wonder Thirst’ (aka ‘Look Before You Leap’) at Federal Recording Studio.
Unfortunately the single failed to garner much interest locally and for the next few years, Glen concentrated on learning his trade as a tailor, although he never gave up on his music career, regularly singing in an early incarnations of the Heptones and later, the Pioneers, with whom he cut a number of sides, including ‘Good Nanny’ and ‘Shake It Up’
During this time, Glen was also informally employed by Arthur ‘Duke’ Reid to find new talent for the producer’s Treasure Isle imprint, but it was not until 1967 that he finally returned to the recording studio as a solo artist once more, cutting a series of superior Rock Steady sides for Edward ‘Bunny’ Lee, many of which saw issue in the UK on Island’s flagship Jamaican music label.
At a session for the producer in October 1968, he was asked to play organ following the non-appearance of the backing musicians and while his style was rudimentary, his unusual technique contributed significantly to the popularity of the resultant recordings, which included ‘Bangarang’ by Lester Sterling & Stranger Cole, Slim Smith’s ‘Everybody Needs Love’ and Derrick Morgan’s ‘Hold Me Jack’.
Encouraged by this, he further honed his keyboard playing skills and by the close of the decade was a regular session player, forming a band with guitarist, Alva ‘Reggie’ Lewis and the Hippy Boys’ rhythm section, Aston and Carlton Barrett (on bass and drums, respectively). The group also recorded as both the Reggae Boys and Soul Mates, with Adams and Lewis performing vocals on Skinhead favourites such as ‘Mama Look Deh’ and ‘Them A Laugh And Ki Ki’.
This new version of the Hippy Boys performed on sessions for a variety of producers, most notably Bunny Lee, Sonia Pottinger, Joe Gibbs and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, and it was with the latter that the group toured the UK late in ‘69, performing across the country as the Upsetters. Upon their return to Jamaica, Perry had them support Bob Marley & the Wailers on a series of sides that have since become regarded as classics, but it was this very union with the future global superstars brought about the demise of the instrumental outfit. In 1972, the Barrett brothers became part of the Wailers band, and while Adams initially remained with Perry, he was soon to leave Jamaica, eventually settling in Brooklyn, where he operated his Capo label and formed a new band, the Blue Grass Experience.
Later, he began working with other New York-based Reggae producers, Brad Osbourne and Lloyd ‘Bullwackie’ Barnes and played with another band called the Realistics. In later years, Glen opened his own recording studio and began experimenting with R&B and Rap, while also working with artists such as popular Jamerican singer, Shaggy, Susan Cadogan and Keith Rowe. In addition, he finally returned to performing live, touring the USA and Europe with bands such as the New York band, the Slackers and the Jammyland All Stars, despite being badly injured in a road accident.
Earlier this year, Glen suffered a serious stroke and was known to be in ill health for some time.
His passing comes in a year when Jamaican music has lost some of its most influential and pioneering figures, most notably Gregory Isaacs, Sugar Minott, Sonia Pottinger, Lyn Taitt and Sid Bucknor.
VIDEO by Glen Adams