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Arthur Adams 

Combining the immaculate technique of B.B. King with an aggressive attack reminiscent of Dick Dale, Arthur Adams is the hottest blues guitarist in Los Angeles and has been since the mid-‘80s, when he returned to his roots after two decades as a top L.A. session musician. One of the nicest guys you'll ever meet offstage, he punishes the strings of his Gibson ES-347 in concert like he's angry.

"That is saying, ‘I'm a hungry blues guitar player, and I'm coming at you. Run me out of here!'" he laughs. "If you don't play and knock somebody down, you ain't going to work." Arthur works as much as he likes, frequently venturing overseas for tours, so that strategy is clearly clicking. Born Christmas Day of 1940 in Medon, Tennessee (outside of Jackson), Adams picked up his earliest licks from his mother and brother. "My mother would play her couple chords, then she'd hand it to Calvin," he says. "Calvin would play what he knew, and he would hand it to me."

B.B. and Elmore James were two of Arthur's early influences, but since a lot of his early singing experience came in church, Dixie Hummingbirds guitarist Howard Carroll meant the most of all. "He was so modern to me, he was just way ahead of all the other guitarists with all the other gospel groups," says Adams. "He was just a thrill to hear." Arthur moved to Nashville to briefly attend Tennessee State University, but his education really commenced when he joined saxist Jimmy Beck's band. They went on tour backing singer Gene Allison and ended up stranded in Dallas. "Gene left the band in his 1959 Cadillac, and I ain't seen him since," says Arthur. The young guitarist made the most of it, living in Dallas from February of '59 to April of '64 and cutting his first singles for Jamie, Duchess, and Arkad. Adams and singer Sir Lattimore Brown wrote Somebody's Gonna Miss Me; Brown waxed it first, but Sam Cooke covered it shortly thereafter.

A Fort Worth deejay set Adams up with Vee-Jay Records, then based in L.A., and Arthur moved there in 1964. Vee-Jay shelved Arthur's I Feel Alright, but word of Adams' guitar skills soon spread. Before long he was doing sessions with everyone from Bobby Womack, the Jackson 5, and James Brown to film and TV soundtrack work despite not reading sheet music at all. "I had a good ear," he says. He also cut fine soulful blues 45s for Modern (1967's She Drives Me Out Of My Mind) and the luxurious It's Private Tonight for Hugh Masekela's Motown-distributed Chisa logo in '69. "You don't come up with a song that everybody says has it, that doesn't make it," he says of the latter. "But that's part of the business."

Blue Thumb had Adams recut It's Private Tonight as the title cut of his ‘72 debut LP, and he played on several Crusaders albums. That decade also saw him release Fantasy and A&M albums aimed at funk and disco fans. But the latter half of the ‘80s saw Arthur back in blues harness, building momentum during the ‘90s by playing all over L.A. It all culminated with Adams' self-produced 1999 Blind Pig CD ‘Back On Track.' Along with two duets with good friend B.B., the set included the throbbing downbeat original Backup Man, drummer James Gadson keeping the backbeat rock-steady as Arthur unfurls his soaring pipes and blazing axe.

 If there was ever any question as to what kind of music Arthur Adams holds the closest, performances like this one render it entirely moot. 

 

Bill Dahl
Chicago, Illinois

PLUG IT IN! TURN IT UP!

Electric Blues 1939-2005. - The Definitive Collection!

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