Bryan Adams: The singer-songwriter and photographer on falling asleep at the wheel, his vegan diet and his shots of wounded servicemen


Adam Jacques
Sunday 09 November 2014 01:00
Adams says: 'Taking photos of wounded British servicemen politicised me'
Adams says: 'Taking photos of wounded British servicemen politicised me'

I was surprised to learn I could sing I always wanted to be a guitarist, but when I was rehearsing with my first band, at 14, in my mother's basement, no one in the room wanted to be the singer, so I said I'd fill in until we found someone. So I became the singer.

I've done so many gigs that I have career amnesia I do remember an enormous tour schedule between 1991 and 1995, though; it was a huge time for me, with offers to play all over the world, so for four years, I never went home. Around 2000, I changed gear; now I only do 10 shows a month, as I didn't want to live in hotels all my life.

There's something very British about an audience that sings back to you My most memorable gig was at Sheffield Polytechnic, early in my career. It was the first time I ever heard people sing my songs to me. I think it's particularly big here in the UK as it comes from football [chanting]. And when I finished my song, they'd kick off on another song of mine.

I don't think I'll have a choice which song I'll be remembered for It's wonderful when one of your works gets elevated, like "(Everything I Do) I Do it for You" [which spent 16 weeks at number one in the UK singles chart in 1991]. That what I work for, and it's a great song to play live, by the way.

It's bizarre to provide a movie theme tune only to have it stuck on right at the end I went to see Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves at the cinema with my girlfriend as I was desperate to see how "(Everything I Do)…" sounded in the film. But it got to the end and the song still hadn't played. I thought, what's going on? And then, right at the end of the credits, the song started. The film company didn't like the song.

We should all love each other a bit more It's one reason why I'm happy to make music, as I believe it contributes, on some level, to making someone happy somewhere – other than myself, of course.

Most people wouldn't want to eat what I eat I believe in treating yourself well, so I mostly eat vegetables. [Adams has been a vegan since 1989.] I've had meat, but it never worked for me as I got sick from it.

I learnt pretty early on that I shouldn't be driving I have no capacity to drive long distances, as I fall asleep. If I was going out to visit my gran I would have to stop two or three times so I could fall asleep safely for a bit, then I'd wake up and carry on – so I stopped driving.

People who treat staff badly annoy me Particularly at airports: whenever I'm travelling I'll see someone shouting at some poor staff member at the airline check-in desk or at the passport check, upset about, say, showing their passport again. I'm like, "Mate, you're holding everyone up and being annoying – just show it!"

Taking photos of wounded British servicemen politicised me [Adams' portraits of service personnel wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq have been published as a book, Wounded: the Legacy of War]. Looking at these guys and their injuries made me reflect on who I vote for, and their views on these incursions, as I'm not convinced it was all necessary. The most profound moment for me was talking to injured guys who had children but now didn't know how to play with them because they didn't have legs and couldn't kick a football; it was really moving.

Bryan Adams, 54, is a singer-songwriter and portrait photographer. 'Wounded, (£48, Steidl) is out now. An accompanying exhibition is at Somerset House, London WC2, from Wednesday to 25 January 2015

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