Patrick Adams returns to Red Bull Music Fest May 11

JORDANNAH ELIZABETH | 5/12/2017, 5:28 p.m.
Musician, arranger and synth player extraordinaire Patrick Adams returns to the Red Bull Music Academy Festival NYC to curate a ...
Patrick Adams Red Bull Music Academy photo

Musician, arranger and synth player extraordinaire Patrick Adams returns to the Red Bull Music Academy Festival NYC to curate a two-hour concert of his greatest hits, selected from the catalog of more than 1,000 songs he’s been credited with working on.

I was personally interested in hearing his wisdom about succeeding for several decades in his craft, which dates back to his work in the Sparks in the 1960s, places him as a synth pioneer and disco producer in the 1970s and a collaborator of young hip-hop such as Salt-N-Pepa, Eric B. and Rakim in the 80s, right up to the present time.

Adams spoke with the AmNews via phone about the music industry, his personal path of working in different genres and facets in music, and what he plans to do at the festival. He’ll be performing May 11 at 2116 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. in New York City.

AmNews: You of course, have had a long and healthy career in the music business. What can you say about your goals when you first started in the business?

Adams: I’ve always tried to learn as much as I could about my craft and about the arts. I tried to conquer many different genres of music. Matter of fact, one of my complaints over my lifetime is that people have tried to put labels on me. When I started out, we had a four-piece, self-contained Black band called The Sparks (in the 1960s). We were like “The Black Beatles.” We played The Young Rascals, Jimi Hendrix and a lot of pop stuff, but at the same time we played R&B, The Temptations and Motown as well. We were versatile.

But in the middle ’70s, I started running to this problem where people would say, “Oh, he’s a great R&B writer, but he can’t do disco. For a two- to three-year period, I was making a lot of money as musical arranger working with a whole slew of artists, but people were not hiring me to produce records. I worked to knock down the notion that I was only an R&B producer and as fortune would have it, Prelude Records gave me a shot. It was under the best circumstances because all they said was, “We want a disco record.” Marv Schlachter (Prelude’s founder) asked, “How much is it going to cost?” I gave him a number, he wrote a check and three weeks later I had done the “Keep on Jumpin” album. Not wanting to be pigeonholed if the album was a success, I named the project, “Musique.” I said, “It’s music, so we’ll call it Musique.” The album was a surprise hit.

AmNews: After becoming successful as an innovative synthesizer player and conquering disco, what did you end up doing next?

Adams: In the ’80s, I became the chief engineer at Power Play Studios in Long Island City. Herbie Love Bug came into the studio and said, “Can you produce my group?” Instead of taking title producer, I told him, “You’re going to produce the record, I’ll help you, but you’re going to produce it.” He had brought me the group Salt-N-Pepa. Same thing happened with Eric B. and Rakim. They were looking for a producer. I didn’t try to grab the title. Had I been about making money alone, I would have taken credit as a producer on those projects, whether they were successes or failures, just to have gotten my name out there as much as possible. I had no idea those groups were going to blow up and sell millions of albums.