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Ryan Adams Biography

Ryan Adams is an American singer-songwriter, musician and record producer known for his heavy angst music and alternative country direction.

Early Life

David Ryan Adams was born in Jacksonville, North Carolina on November 5, 1974. Raised in a troubled family, he was raised by his mother after his father divorced her. At 8 years old he was into poetry, fiction, and writing. At 14 he learned how to play the electric guitar and started playing alongside various local bands.


He formed the alternative country band Whiskeytown with guitarist Phil Wandscher, violinist Caitlin Cary, bassist Steve Grothman and drummer Eric “Skillet” Gilmore. They released the album Faithless Street which received critical praise. Although they were signed to a major record label, the band had disagreements and Adams and Wandscher were the remaining members. Nonetheless, they released the 1997 LP Stranger’s Almanac. Soon after Cary returned but Wandscher left and a troubled and erratic 2 years preceded. The last album was not a commercial success although it was praised. Adams and Cary, the remaining band, never got to release the 3rd album Pneumonia because of label complications. As a result, Whiskeytown disbanded.

Solo Career and the Cardinals

Eager to create music, Adams went to Nashville and started working on his album. Ryan released Heartbreaker in 2000 under Bloodshot Records receiving critical praise and a decent commercial response. As a result, he was signed to Universal’s Lost Highway Records. He was regarded as the next best thing with the release of the LP Gold and the track New York, New York. The song served as an anthem at that time, because of the 2001 September terrorist attacks. Considered a talented songwriter, Adams wrote enough material for 4 albums. Demolition, a 60s tunes album was released in 2002 and next was Rock n Roll along with the double EP Love Is Hell. Adams was supporting his albums with tours worldwide. In 2005 he revealed the melancholic double CD Cold Roses, followed by the classic sounding Jacksonville City Nights and ultimately 29. Ryan joined the Cardinals in 2007 with projects like Easy Tiger and 2008’s Cardinology. In 2009 he left the group and stayed away from the spotlight.In 2010 he issued the heavy metal inspired LP Orion followed by high-profile collaboration and production Ashes and Fire in 2011. After the release of the latter album, Adams retired for a while because of an inner year illness.

Commercial Success

He came back after a treatment and started writing and producing for other acts like Fall Out Boy and Jenny Lewis. Adams released his own versions of the songs he produced and released his own punk-inspired EP 1984. His most commercially successful project was the 2014 self-titled album. The LP debuted at number 4, Adams highest position ever on Billboard 200. Surprisingly, he decided to cover Taylor Swift’s 1989 entire album and released his own version of that album in 2015. In 2017 Ryan revealed his latest album, entitled Prisoner, and singles like Do You Still Love Me? and To Be Without You.

Photo credit: Bloodshot Records