Glen Adams

Glenroy Kinkead Adams Phillips, aka Glen Adams, (27 November 1945 - 17 December 2010) was a Jamaican musician, composer, arranger, engineer, producer, based since the mid-1970s in Brooklyn, New York City.


Adams' mother was from Kingston and his father from St. Vincent; the two met while working in Curaçao. Adams' first break in the music business came as a teenager, when he appeared as a singer in a vocal group on Radio Jamaica's Opportunity Knocks show hosted by Vere Johns. Later performing on the same show as a solo singer which led to appearances on cabaret shows and performances in Kingston and St. Andrews at weekends. Adams' older sister Yvonne was also a popular singer and he was spotted by Clement "Coxsone" Dodd while rehearsing a song that she had written called "Wonder Thirst". Coxsone took him into the Federal Recording Studio to record the track in 1960. Although not officially released as a single at the time, the song became a popular dub plate on sound systems, and the title of the song became his nickname.

Adams formed a duo, Ken and Glen, with Ken Boothe and they came second place in the 1966 Festival Song Competition with "I Remember". The duo also backed Stranger Cole on his number one single "Uno Dos Tres". He co-founded The Heptones before moving on to The Pioneers, appearing on the latter's "Shake It Up" and "Good Nanny". While continuing to earn a living as a tailor, he moved on to work with Duke Reid's Treasure Isle set-up as an informal musical director, introducing singers such as Joe White to Reid.

Adams also worked with Bunny Lee from around 1967 as a solo singer, backing singer and A&R man, in exchange for studio time. At a recording session in October 1968, when several musicians failed to turn up due to a dispute about payment for a previous session, Adams was asked to play piano, despite not being proficient on the instrument. Unhappy with the results, he switched instruments with organist Lloyd Charmers (although he had never played the organ before). He played organ on eight tracks in that session, which included Lester Sterling's "Bangarang" and Slim Smith's "Everybody Needs Love" and he has stuck with the instrument ever since, becoming a regular session player. Along with other musicians such as the Barrett brothers (Aston and Carlton), he performed in sessions for a range of producers under a variety of group names notably The Hippy Boys for Bunny Lee, where Adams did some of his most memorable work accompanying Slim Smith, The Reggae Boys and The Upsetters for Lee "Scratch" Perry. Adams also worked for Herman Chin Loy, where he was one of a number of keyboard players to record under the name Augustus Pablo, before Horace Swaby adopted that identity.

Perry and The Upsetters toured the United Kingdom to capitalise on the success of Perry's hit "Return of Django" (and the less successful follow-up, "Live Injection"); returning to Jamaica in 1970. As part of The Upsetters, Adams backed The Wailers during their spell with Perry and Adams did much of the arranging and composed the song "Mr. Brown". The lyrics were inspired by a local tale about a duppy who was supposedly seen speeding around on a three-wheeled coffin with two "John Crows" (buzzards) on top, one of which would ask for "Mr. Brown". Adams was due to record the track himself but Perry suggested that the Wailers record it, with Peter Tosh and Adams adding spooky organ riffs. Adams regularly introduced this song at his concerts with the statement: "I wrote this song for Bob Marley". When The Wailers parted company with Perry in 1971 taking The Upsetter's rhythm section with them, Adams remained with Perry. During this period he had also started to split his time between Jamaica and the United States. In the United States he set up his own Capo record label and put together a new band, the Blue Grass Experience. He eventually moved to Brooklyn permanently in 1975, where he became more involved in producing and also worked for Brad Osbourne's Clocktower and Lloyd Barnes' Bullwackie labels and played with The Realistics band.

In the late 1970s, Adams expanded into R&B and Rap production, working with hip hop artist T Ski Valley. He has also worked with Shaggy and remixed and re-voiced an album of partly Upsetters material in 1996, released by Heartbeat Records as Upsetters a Go Go.

After many years in the studio, Adams returned to live performance in the 2000s, touring the USA and Europe with The Slackers and also playing occasional NYC shows with the Jammyland All-Stars.

Adams owned his own recording studio and in his later years produced artists such as Susan Cadogan and Keith Rowe, half of the vocal duo Keith & Tex from Jamaica.

Glen Adams died on 17 December 2010 at the University Hospital of the West Indies after falling ill while visiting Jamaica.



  • Upsetters - Blackboard Jungle Dub
  • Glen Adams - Wonderthirst [1963-73] (LP) Landmark

-- Courtesy (Wikipedia) --

Glen Adams - Organist who recorded with Bob Marley and helped define reggae

Glen Adams
Glen Adams was co-founder of the Heptones and played with Max Romeo - Photograph: David Katz

The talented Jamaican musician and record producer Glen Adams, who has died aged 65 after suffering a stroke and kidney failure, was best known for his pioneering work as an organist. He recorded with Bob Marley and the Wailers, was an important part of New York's Caribbean music scene and helped define the new reggae sound of the late 1960s.

Adams's parents met in Curaçao, in the southern Caribbean. His father, a teacher, came from Saint Vincent. His mother returned to Jamaica alone two weeks before Glen was born. He was raised in Jones Town, a suburb of west Kingston, and attended the nearby Trench Town primary school. His mother was a milliner who also performed as a singer and dancer. She staged a concert for Adams's scout troupe in 1957, featuring the Jiving Juniors, which impressed him. His cousin played saxophone in Sonny Bradshaw's jazz group, who often rehearsed at Adams's house.

At the age of 12 he formed a harmony group with two schoolfriends but their audition at a local talent show, Vere Johns' Opportunity Hour, was unsuccessful. Returning as a solo act, Adams's performance at the Palace theatre in Kingston, broadcast live on radio, was so impressive that an agent soon obtained cabaret dates for him, opening for the Blues Busters.

In 1960, the Studio One founder, Clement Dodd, held a talent contest at the State theatre, at which Adams sang Wonder Thirst, written by his older sister Yvonne (who later recorded duets with Roy Panton and Derrick Morgan). Wonder Thirst became Adams's debut recording, which Dodd retained as an acetate for his sound system.

By 1962 Adams had formed a duo with Ken Boothe, providing harmony on the vocalist Stranger Cole's popular track Uno-Dos-Tres. The duo came second in the Festival Song competition in 1966 with I Remember, but were only sporadically active. Adams acted as an informal musical director for Duke Reid in this period, introducing the singer Joe White to Reid's stable, and arranging Margarita Mahfood's influential single Woman a Come.

While working as a tailor, he recorded Good Nanie and Shake It Up with the Pioneers in 1966, and introduced the Heptones, a group he co-founded, to Studio One. He then began recording as a solo singer, cutting Silent Lover and She (also known as I'm Shocking, I'm Electric) with the producer Bunny Lee in 1967, and providing harmony on the Uniques' Give Me a Love.

Adams began playing the organ in 1968, when Reid suggested him for a session with Lee, on which the bassist Aston "Family Man" Barrett and his drumming brother, Carlton, would also play. The result was Stranger Cole's Bangarang, which Lee insists is the first reggae record, due to Adams's chugging organ shuffle, which directly changed the predominant style.

With this session band now named the Hippy Boy, Adams backed the popular singer Max Romeo. The group then became better known as the Upsetters once they began recording for Lee "Scratch" Perry, with whom they toured Britain in 1969. Adams had already produced popular singles in Jamaica, such as the Reggae Boys' Selassie, and he co-produced the album The Good the Bad and the Upsetters in London after the tour. In 1970 Adams's inventive organ melodies brought greater texture to the landmark Bob Marley and the Wailers albums, Soul Rebels and Soul Revolution, produced by Perry. He co-wrote tracks including Mr Brown and helped develop the song Concrete Jungle.

Adams moved to New York in 1971, but returned to Jamaica frequently. He recorded the single Soul Syndicate in 1973 and later cut singles with Dennis Brown and Big Youth. Adams also recorded soca music (a hybrid blend of soul and calypso, pioneered in Trinidad and popular throughout the eastern Caribbean).

For the next six years, Adams drove a cab. He issued a few self-produced singles in 1981, and recorded Catch the Beat with the rapper T-Ski Valley (which was later sampled by Grandmaster Flash and Jennifer Lopez). He was hospitalised for a six-month period, due to the degenerative condition polymyositis, but subsequently worked on some of Shaggy's earliest recordings.

He is survived by his third wife, Judy; his son Kim, from his second marriage, to Veronica; and his granddaughter, Vicky. His son Francis, from his first marriage, to Ingrid, predeceased him.

Glenroy Kinkead Adams Phillips (Glen Adams), keyboardist, singer-songwriter and producer, born 27 November 1945; died 17 December 2010

-- Courtesy (David Katz, The Guardian) --