William Stuart Adamson, (1958 - 2001). Composer. Guitarist. Singer.
Stuart Adamson was born on April 11th, 1958 in Manchester, England and grew up in Crossgates, a village near the Scottish town of Dunfermline, Fife.
Strongly influenced by his parents' keen interest in music, (particularly country and folk music), Adamason decided upon a career in music after seeing The Damned perform in 1976. After a brief interlude with a rock band cranking out cover versions, Adamson formed his first 'real' band, The Skids, with Richard Jobson. Early success of their 'progressive punk' sound lead to a recording contract with Virgin in 1978. Significantly, the recording sessions for the Skids debut album were delayed when Adamson, feeling the pressure of success, disappeared for a few days.
Adamson and Jobson always had their differences and these became more evident as The Skids grew more successful. Jobson was very much an outgoing, media-loving poseur who always wanted to be part of the 'scene'. A chronic extrovert, Jobson relished the attention that accompanied fame. Adamson, on the other hand, always felt uncomfortable with success, recognition and the whole business side of the music industry. Feeling the need to be true to his musical tastes and roots, Adamson parted company with The Skids in 1980 and formed his new band, Big Country.
Adamson had very firm ideas about how Big Country should sound and he sacked all but one of the original line-up after a few mediocre live performances. Together with fellow guitarist Bruce Watson, Adamson reformed the band with a distinctly 'Scottish' sound. The 'Big Country' sound is epitomised by the 'dual-guitar' sound, as Adamson and Watson accompanied each other. Adamson later revealed his exasperation as the music press compared this unique sound to the 'skirl of the bagpipes'. In part, at least, he had himself to blame: the soaring, anthemic guitar sound strongly reinforced the band's Scottish heritage. Projecting backdrops of highland scenes at live performances probably didn't help either.
Big Country's first album, The Crossing, was released in 1983. The album was well received by an audience who warmed to the distinctive Big Country 'sound'. The Crossing sold more than 3 million copies. Renowned UK DJ John Peel hailed Adamson as 'the new Hendrix'. Big Country were being touted as contenders with U2 for the title of 'Kings of Celtic Rock'. A string of highly successful live performances reinforced the band's reputation. They played at Live Aid in 1985. - Adamson, and Big Country, had arrived.
Big Country's strength at the height of their success in the mid 80's was their unique sound. It was also their Achilles heel: As time moved on and musical tastes evolved, Big Country didn't. The band remained 'a name' into the early 90's but their popularity was on the wane. Adamson turned to alcohol to soften the blow of his dwindling career. His descent into alcoholism led to divorce from his first wife, Sandra. Adamson got sober and left Scotland, his ex-wife and his teenaged children, (Callum and Kirsten), behind and moved to Nashville, TN to start a new life and seek new musical inspiration.
Adamson seemed to leave his alcohol-related problems across the Atlantic. Remaining sober, he married Melanie, owner of a beauty salon, in early 2000 and formed a new band, The Raphaels. The pressure of work and the struggle to rediscover recognition brough back Adamson's drinking with a vengence and he started dropping out of live appearances. He faced drunk-driving charges and continued to experience domestic problems. A few weeks after Adamson and his wife seperated, on November 7th, 2001, he disappeared from his home leaving a short note to his son promising to return soon. He was reported missing by his estranged wife just over a week later.
Adamson's body was discovered in a hotel room in Hawaii on December 16th, 2001. He had finally given up his struggle and hanged himself.