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. In 1977 (see 1977 in music) 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.
His biggest popular success was the album Waking Up the Neighbours in 1991 (see 1991 in music), produced by Mutt Lange and featuring the ballad "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" (written by Kamen). This love song 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.
He has been inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.