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   Johnny Adams
 Cancer..........Sept 14, 1998
  Age 66
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OBITUARY

            Johnny Adams, 67, Vocalist;  One of the Legends in Blues

               By PETER WATROUS 
               
               

                      Johnny Adams, one of the last of the great blues and ballad singers, died on Monday in Baton Rouge, La., where he lived. He was 67.  

                      The cause was cancer, said a spokesman for his publicists, Myers Media, in New York.  

                      Adams was in many ways an anachronism, a singer who could sing virtually all the prewar styles of American music. And he was an entertainer, with much of his presentation coming out of a tradition that included vaudeville; he pretended to play the trombone, or he would whistle and tell jokes. But his singing was flaw- less; he could use the gospel tradition with extraordinary ease and was also adept at jazz singing.  

                      Adams began his singing career in his hometown of New Orleans, working in a gospel group, the Soul Revivers. In the mid-1950's, he sang with Beside Griffin and her Soul Consolators, and made the change into secular music while singing in a bathtub. His upstairs neighbor, Dorothy Labostrie, a  songwriter, heard his version  of "Precious Lord," persuaded him to sing a song of hers, "Oh Why,"  and had him signed with the local Ric label. The first session was produced by Mac Rebennack, 18, later known as Dr. John; "Oh Why" was released as "I Won't Cry" and was a hit record in New Orleans.  

                      From then on, until Adams signed with Rounder Records in 1983, he worked in  unfair obscurity. His  singing had a cool sense of relaxation and a ceaseless caressing of notes. He attacked and ornamented melodies in endless ways, either leaving them  plain, so the luxury of his voice did the  work, or charging them with falsettos and other gospel filigrees.  

                      But by the time Adams's abilities had come together, jazz and sophisticated blues singing weren't much in demand. He had small local hits, and one national success with "Losing Battle"; it was widely reported that Berry Gordy Jr. at Motown wanted to sign him, but his record company threatened to sue.  

                      In 1983 Adams started recording what became a nine-album series for Rounder, and on these  records he moved from a tribute to the songwriting of Doc Pomus to tunes that have become jazz  standards, like "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "Teach Me Tonight."  He recorded "One Foot in the Blues," an album featuring Dr. Lonnie Smith on organ. The connection with Rounder, along with an increasing public appreciation, made him an  international concert star, and during the last decade, he worked regularly. His most recent recording, "Man of My Word"  (Rounder), was released in  August.  

            He is survived by his wife, Judy.  

             

             

            NOTED SINGER JOHNNY ADAMS PASSES AWAY

                 

              New Orleans singer Johnny Adams died yesterday morning, September 14th, after a long battle with cancer at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge. He was 66 years old. Johnny was regarded by fans, critics and musicians throughout the world as one of the finest singers associated with New Orleans R&B and jazz.  

              Born Laten John Adams in New Orleans on January 5, 1932, Johnny was first drawn to gospel music, and was featured with Bessie Griffin and the Consolators while in his early twenties. He crossed the line to secular music with his 1959 hit, “I Won’t Cry,” and subsequently enjoyed a string of regional best-sellers, including  “Reconsider Me,” “Release Me” and “Hell Yes I Cheated,” which lasted through the 1960s and 1970s. During this time, he worked the circuit of black nightclubs throughout the South, where audiences marveled at both the range and beauty of his infinitely expressive voice.  

              In 1983, Johnny teamed up with producer Scott Billington and Rounder Records, and the nine albums they created brought Johnny to the world at large. On such recordings as Room With a View of the Blues, The Real Me: The Songs of Doc Pomus, and One Foot In the Blues, Johnny explored the full range of his talent, singing jazz, R&B and blues, winning praise from criitcs around the world. Among his many awards are a W. C. Handy Award, a NAIRD Indie Award, six Big Easy (New Orleans) Awards and several OffBeat (New Orleans) Best of the Beat Awards.  

              Among the musicians who worked and recorded with Johnny in recent years are Aaron Neville, Harry Connick, Jr., David Torkanowsky, Dr. John, Duke Robillard and jazz greats such as organist Dr. Lonnie Smith and saxophonist Houston Person.  

              During the last decade, Johnny became a regular attraction on stages around the world, perfroming frequently in Europe. His most recent album, Man of My Word, was released in August, and finds him returning to the classic soul music sound.  

              Copyright © 1998, OffBeat, Inc.  

             

       
 
 

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BIOGRAPHY
          

        Johnny Adams 

        (b. Lathan John Adams, 5 January 1932, New Orleans, Mississipp). 

        A former member of several gospel groups, Adams’ first recordings appeared in 1959 on Ric Records.  Three years later he secured a minor R&B success with A Losing Battle, a slow ballad co-written by Dr. John. In 1968 he joined Shelby Singleton's SSS International outlet and scored a hit the following year with Reconsider Me, an inspired piece of country-soul. Although subsequent releases failed to match this performance, the strong HEART AND SOUL, followed. Johnny signed with Atlantic Records in the early '70s, but his work there was  
        disappointing. A later move to Ariola Records resulted in a remake of Conway Twitty's two-year-old country hit, After All The Good Is Gone, giving Adams a 1978 US R&B chart  entry. He has since recorded for various labels, including notably, Rounder.    

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