There are a handful of big birthdays in the rock world today (including Kevin Jonas), but there are two individuals who will both be blowing out candles on a cake whose lives have been inextricably linked for years, even though they’ve never worked together. New York rock genius/madman Ryan Adams turns 35 years old today, while Canadian power balladeer Bryan Adams is now 51.
The two men have a lot in common on the surface, as they both are guitar-heavy solo artists who share a surname and whose first names are only one letter apart. But during the time of Ryan Adams’ initial rise to fame (most notably with his 2001 solo album Gold, whose single “New York, New York” became something of a patriotic anthem following the events of September 11, 2001), Bryan Adams became hugely problematic for him for a while (though entirely indirectly, it should be noted). For reasons that still remain mysterious today, people used to go to Ryan Adams gigs and shout requests for Bryan Adams songs at him. This rankled Ryan to no end, and the continuous screams of “Summer of ’69!” would often send him into fits of rage. It was a shame, because Adams was (and remains) one of the most dynamic performers in indie rock, and his shows were often derailed by people trying to … actually, it’s impossible to tell what they were trying to do.
Ryan Adams has mellowed out since then, crafting songs that may not have become as massively popular as “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” or “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” but remain some of the most fascinating music of the past decade (especially when he gets experimental with metal or hip-hop — if you can find any downloads of albums by DJ Reggie, by all means get on that right now). But Adams’ bread and butter remains heartbreaking guy-and-a-guitar musings like “Amy.”