Despite the hits, Bryan Adams says songwriting doesn't come naturally
For Canadian rocker Bryan Adams, pounding out number one hits like (Everything I Do) I Do It For You is no easy task.
'I'm not that astute a song writer,' admits Adams in a plush reception room in the Peninsula Hotel on a muggy afternoon.
'I put out a fair amount of albums and songs but it's not something that comes very naturally.' Adams, who has left his native Canada to live in London, has been in the music business for more than 17 years.
He made a name for himself in North America while touring in the early 1980s, which set the stage for his big break.
In 1984, his Reckless album elevated him from being one of rock's journeymen to an international star. Adams laughs and jokes now that the rest of his career has been a 'gradual descent into oblivion'.
Reckless brought him into the world spotlight, especially when he recorded a duet It's Only Love with American pop singer, Tina Turner. His track The Summer of '69 kept millions of teenagers around the world in thrall.
By 1987, Adams had released his third consecutive multi-platinum album, and the accompanying international tour took him to Asia. Adams also performed in an all-star line up for a production of The Wall with Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame, to jubilant Berliners soon after Germany's reunification.
But it was the Robin Hood Prince of Thieves soundtrack where Adams sealed his fame with the song (Everything I Do) I Do It For You. It shot to number one in 17 countries, even beating out We Are The World by selling 28 million singles worldwide. The song topped British charts for 16 consecutive weeks.
In just three weeks he will release his first studio album in five years - with no aspirations of surpassing his 1991 hit.
In retrospect, Adams was surprised (Everything I Do) I Do It For You became so successful.
'That song was so big here [in Hong Kong]. I mean it eclipsed anything I'd done before and everything after.' The song eventually won Adams a Grammy award.
The 36-year-old has been working for the past two years on his new album, 18 Til I Die.
He seems to be a lot more cosmopolitan now than his 'ripped jeans' type of rock and roll would lead one to believe.
Despite that, his music has not changed much. His new album is similar to his Reckless album. And the message he wants to get across has not changed much.
'18 Til I Die is like when you're growing up and your parents say grow up and snap you up,' he says. 'You don't want to be older, you want to stay younger.' The song may sound like The Summer of '69 to some fans.
Adams has been awarded the Recording Artist of the Decade prize in Canada, perhaps paving the way for many new Canadian rockers like Alanis Morisette. But he does not take any credit for Canadian music successes. The Decade award was for the 1980s, but that does not seem to affect Adams.
When he speaks, he sounds younger, his voice is less raspy than his trademark sound in many of his songs. That may be due to his less frenetic schedule these days.
Adams says that does not mean he has been idle the last five years. He is one of a number of artists to head a trend in the music industry in his work on movie soundtracks.
To date, he has had four number one movie soundtrack songs, including All For One with Rod Stewart and Sting for the movie The Three Musketeers and a recent hit, Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman for the movie Don Juan De Marco.
'A lot of people are getting more and more into it because they realise that it's a fabulous thing, marrying music and film. It's like having two careers,' he says.
Adams is ready for a 1997 tour for his new album. Having already played in Hong Kong in 1993, he is looking forward to touring here next year.
He espouses a genuine interest in issues like politics, human rights and the environment. Adams is a public supporter of organisations such as Greenpeace and Amnesty International.
'I'm involved in human rights only because I believe in human rights,' he says. In his last tour, he urged his fans to support a whale sanctuary in the Antarctic.
'The sanctuary went through. I'm not sure how much our postcard campaign had to do with it, but I think it helped.'