Glen Adams has passed away.
Just before the ending of 2010, a dramatic year for Reggae when it comes to the passing away of some truly greats in the history of Jamaica's popular music, another renown and well-respected musician, songwriter and producer has died. Glen Adams, born Glenroy Phillip Adams and known as Capo, lived in Brooklyn, New York, for more than 30 years and was visiting Jamaica when he became ill. He died at the age of 65 at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) in Kingston JA, on Friday December 17.
Glen Adams, born in Kingston on November 27th 1945, was the son of a Jamaican mother and a Vincentian father, who met while working in Curaçao. During his youth he attended Holy Cross Senior School and Tutorial College, although music soon became his greatest passion and by his teens, he was singing in a local vocal group with whom he appeared on Radio Jamaica's Opportunity Knocks show hosted by Vere Johns. Later he performed on the same show as a solo singer and run second in that competition, which led to appearances on cabaret shows and performances in Kingston and St. Andrews at weekends. Glen Adams' older sister Yvonne was also a popular singer and he was spotted by then up-and-coming record producer Clement "Coxsone" Dodd while rehearsing a song that she had written called "Wonderthirst" (aka "Look Before You Leap"). Coxsone took him into the Federal Recording Studio to record the track in 1961. Although not officially released as a single at the time, the song became a very popular dub plate in West Kingston on the Sir Lord Comic's The Junior Prince and Sir Coxsone's Downbeat sound systems, and the title of the song became his nickname. Unfortunately the tape got burned up in the recording studio when caught in a fire.
He then 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 first line-up of The Heptones together with Earl Morgan, Barry Llewelyn, Joseph Forester and Jackson Jones, 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 for Duke Reid's Treasure Isle imprint as an informal musical director / talent scout, introducing singers such as Joe White to Arthur "Duke" Reid.
Next Glen Adams worked with Edward "Bunny" Lee from around 1967 as a solo singer, backing singer and A&R man, in exchange for studio time. He cut a series of superior Rock Steady sides for the producer, many of which saw issue in the UK on Island's flagship Jamaican music label. At a recording session in October 1968, when several musicians failed to turn up due to a dispute about payment for a previous session, he 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 guitarist Alva "Reggie" Lewis and 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 Glen Adams did some of his most memorable work accompanying Slim Smith, The Reggae Boys and The Upsetters for Lee "Scratch" Perry. He also worked for Herman Chin Loy, where he was one of a number of keyboard players to record under the name Augustus Pablo (a character from a Mexican newspaper cartoon strip), before Horace Swaby adopted that identity. This group of musicians also recorded as both the Reggae Boys and Soul Mates, with Adams and Lewis performing vocals on Skinhead favourites such as "Mama Look Deh" and "Them A Laugh And Ki Ki".
Late in 1969 The Upsetters together with Lee "Scratch" Perry toured the UK to capitalise on the success of their huge hit "Return Of Django" (and the less successful follow-up, "Live Injection"), returning to Jamaica in 1970. As part of The Upsetters, Glen Adams backed The Wailers during their spell with Lee "Scratch" Perry and also 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 Glen Adams adding spooky organ riffs. He 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 riddim section with them, Glen Adams remained with "Scratch". 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 later years, Glen opened his own recording studio and began experimenting with R&B and Rap, while also working with artists such as Susan Cadogan, Keith Rowe (of Keith & Tex) and popular Jamerican singer Shaggy. In addition, he finally returned to performing live, touring the USA and Europe with bands such as The Slackers and The Jammyland All Stars. Recently he did performances at a juice shop/restaurant on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn NY.
Sources: Wikipedia & Trojan Records website.