I was very sad to recently learn of the passing of my friend Stephen Adams. He was the leader (in multiple ways) of the Dreambreakers, one of my all-time favorite musical collectives. The Dreambreakers – and Adams in particular – had love for, commitment to and belief in the music they played–British Invasion, psychedelia and protest rock as well as new songs that seemed plucked straight out of 1968.
Stephen Adams didn’t create the Dreambreakers to regurgitate familiar musical pabulum for drunk audiences that didn’t want to have to think too much. He had both feet firmly planted in the idealism and artistry of a bygone era and wanted to share his passion with as many people as possible. His running commentary during each show gave the songs context and deepened their meaning for an audience that was often younger than the songs were. Adams’ insistence on playing each song right (which is different than playing each song correctly) made listening a pure joy for those of us who knew the songs by heart.
Adams had a stroke six years ago that rendered him unable to continue to play. He was moved to another state where he had a relative, and updates since his departure have been uncommon and mostly uninformative. The last time I saw him was in the hospital in Houston, and he was still talking about taking the band on a European tour once he got better. I hope he was able to hold on to that positive outlook over the past few years. His name has come up often, and I’ve continued to lament the palpable absence of his band in my aural life. I’m sorry that there will never be a reunion performance.
For you, Stephen Adams. You know why.