As house bandleader at B.B. King's Los Angeles blues club, Arthur Adams cranks out searing blues for the well-heeled tourists who trod the length of Universal Studios' glitzy City Walk. But the great majority of his transient clientele can't begin to imagine the depth and variety of the guitarist's career.
The shaven-headed Tennessee native began playing guitar in the mid-'50s, taking early inspiration from the man whose name adorns the club that later employed him (Howard Carroll, axeman for gospel's Dixie Hummingbirds, also was a principal influence). He studied music at Tennessee State University, playing briefly with the school's resident jazz and blues aggregation.
Touring as a member of singer Gene Allison's band, Adams found himself stranded in Dallas, where he dazzled the locals with his fancy fretwork. Relocating to L.A. in 1964, he began to do session work for jazz great Quincy Jones, and cut singles for the Bihari Brothers' Kent label and Hugh Masekela's Motown-distributed Chisa imprint. His late-'60s R&B sides for the latter were co-produced by Stewart Levine and featured support from most of the Crusaders. Adams' 1970 debut LP for Blue Thumb, It's Private Tonight, was co-produced by Bonnie Raitt and Tommy Lipuma. Adams continued to record solo albums through the late '70s, but by the '80s he retreated from the forefront, only ocasionally moonlighting as a session guitarist for various groups. In 1992, he wrote two songs for B.B. King's There Is Always One More Time album and 1999 saw Adams's first solo release in 20 years with Back on Track, which featured King as a guest guitarist. In 2004, Adams continued rebuilding momentum with the release Soul of the Blues. ~ Bill Dahl