Adams was given his first guitar at age ten, bought his first electric guitar at age 12 and at age 14 moved to Vancouver and started auditioning as a guitarist. He left school at 15, joined a band as a singer and went on the road across Canada. He was also a member of Sweeny Todd. In 1977 he met drummer Jim Vallance. The two begin collaborating as songwriters, and before long their material was being covered by many artists. A&M Canada was sent some demos and signed Adams to a recording contract at age 18.
In 1990 he joined many other guests (including Michael Kamen) for Roger Waters' massive performance of The Wall in Berlin.
His biggest popular success was the album Waking Up the Neighbours in 1991, produced by Mutt Lange and featuring the ballad "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" (written by Kamen). This love song is featured on the soundtrack to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and was a huge #1 hit around the world, by far the biggest-selling single of 1991 in many places. Other soundtrack songs were "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?" from Don Juan de Marco; and "All For Love" from The Three Musketeers, performed with Rod Stewart and Sting.
Adams' musical career includes several collaborations and duets, e.g. with Tina Turner in "It's Only Love", ex-Spice Girl Mel C. in "When you're Gone", Chicane in "Don't Give Up", and the aforementioned collaboration on "All For Love".
He has been inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame
The soundtrack to 'Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron' being his latest album, he is now said to be working on a new album that is to be released some time this year.