Updated: Jun 25, 2022
If you’re an avid follower of this blog, the name Patrick Adams certainly rings a bell. The legendary, Harlem-born, producer/arranger has a long list of credentials; goin' back as far as his composition “You Gotta Learn” being sung on Sesame Street, broadcasted in 1969 (boasting a young Luther Vandross in the line-up). Let's take a moment together to reminisce upon the legend who's been an integral part of worldwide dance music history for over 30 years.
It was somewhere around 1969 too, when Patrick got word about Leroy Burgess, a young, talented singer who was buzzing in the neighborhood and upon meeting Burgess quickly assembled two other talents to form the band, Black Ivory. Their backup band was a group called The Soul Severes, who just recently released the Adams-produced single “I Got It". Not long after, through a series of successful events, Patrick landed a job at Perception/Today Records, taking Black Ivory with him. He produced two albums for the group and worked on projects from other stalwarts, like J.J. Barnes & Astrud Gilberto. Adams climbed up to the position of the label’s Vice President of A&R in 1974, but when the band got in a contract dispute with his superiors, he left his spot vacant, loyal to what got him there in the first place.
Out of work, Adams was seeking new avenues to explore and, armed with his new favorite tool, the Mini-Moog, he began writing music for projects such as Cloud One, Bumblebee Unlimited, and, -later-, Universal Robot Band, which are mostly categorized as Disco, but don’t identify with the public perception of the late '70s as such. As he himself once mentioned in an interview: “Disco, at that point, was an extension of R&B, it wasn’t the garbage it became later”.
Adams, was unstoppable in that second half of the ’70s, creating a slew of classic gems, whether it was for the P&P Label (Four Below Zero's "Baby's Got ESP", Golden Flamingo Orchestra’s “The Guardian Angel Is Watching Over Me” a.o.), Prelude Records (Inner Life’s “Caught Up In A One Night Love Affair” & Musique’s “Keep On Jumpin’”, the latter being a huge cover hit in the late ’90s for Todd Terry, which, ironically, also happens to feature songstress, Jocelyn Brown, as she was also vocally present in the 1978 OG version), Atlantic Records (Phreek’s huge single “Weekend”), as well as work for major artists such as Rick James, Ben E. King & Eddie Kendricks.
When the Disco Sound more or less diminished during the early ’80s, Adams was quick to adapt himself to what was goin’ on musically and either produced or wrote for R&B artists such as Fonda Rae (“Touch Me”) or Skipworth & Turner (the big hit “Thinking About Your Love”) as well as engineering for Salt ‘n Pepa ( “My Mic Sounds Nice”) or Eric B. & Rakim’s classic albums “Paid In Full” or “Follow The Leader”, from his position at Powerplay Studios, a job he picked up that same decade.
As so many pivotal artists who made their mark in a particular era, he slightly slipped under the radar for a while, but in 2000, when I was working in a record store, two very-much-in-demand compilations on Leroy Burgess were released. Inevitably, the name Patrick Adams popped up as well, as they are very much intertwined. All of the above just goes to show the enormous influence Patrick Adams had on our musical preferences and how deeply respected he is.
Louie Vega recently did a cover of Universal Robot Band’s “Barely Breaking Even”, featuring both Leroy Burgess & Patrick Adams and while the Robot Band definitely was a guise he worked under, I don’t remember seeing his name anywhere in the original credits of this seminal cut. Still, he's featured in the new version.
R.I.P. Patrick Adams, thank you for all that great music.
Now let's pull out the Donna McGhee classic, most appropriately:
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