Rock legend Bryan Adams set to revisit his roots in Plymouth during Summer Sessions festival

He's a multi platinum-selling rocker who has been banging out tunes since he was 15, with a string of hits including Run To You, Heaven, Summer of '69 and When You're Gone with Mel C.

Oh, and there was that little known track called (Everything I Do) I Do It For You. It was in a film about Robin Hood. The film did rather well. As did the song.

What people don't often know is that Bryan Adams is also a highly regarded photographer who has snapped some of the world's most famous people as well as some the bravest. Amongst the likes of Mick Jagger, Ami Winehouse, Naomi Campbell, Sir Christopher Lee, Michael J Fox, Kate Moss and Queen Elizabeth II - yes, really - he embarked on a five-year project to photograph young British soldiers who had suffered life-changing injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan, including Plymouth's own Mark Ormrod.

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The series of photos of injured British soldiers culminated in his book "Wounded: The Legacy of War" which later toured the world as an exhibition, winning plaudits galore. Adams ensured that five charities benefited from the book, including BLESMA which supports servicemen and women who have lost limbs or their eyesight during combat; Blind Veterans UK provides training and rehabilitation for the visually impaired; Combat Stress which counsels psychologically wounded soldiers; SSAFA which offers accommodation and advice in times of need and upheaval; and War Child - a small international charity which protects children from the brutal effects of war and its consequences.

Ahead of his Summer Session's gig on Plymouth Hoe on June 14, PlymouthLive was able to ask him a few questions via the magic of email.

We first asked him to confirm or correct the various biographies online which stated that his parents emigrated from Plymouth in the 1950s to Canada, noting his own admission in interview that his dad was a Sandhurst officer who was posted a number of locations, including India and Pakistan.

Bryan replied: "Best set the record straight - my grandparents were from Plymstock. My mother was from Lyme Regis, and she had met my father while they were both living in London. They emigrated in the 50s to Canada.

"I only ever visited my grandparents, so I had their roots - did until I lost my nan in the 90s. The only time we ever ventured into Plymouth was when my grandfather wanted to show me the harbour. Otherwise, it was cups of tea in Plymstock around a coal fire!"

Asked if he'd be able to check up on old haunts, such as the harbour, or perhaps Capn Jaspers, the Lido or Union Street - or a swift half in the Barbican's pubs, Bryan wrote he would "if there's time"

[Quick admission here - I was a fan back in his early days, attending the 1987 tour at Wembley Arena following the release of his album Into The Fire. At that time he had four previous albums to choose tracks he could perform. He's now had around 18 studio albums and a couple of soundtrack albums]

We asked how on earth did he choose his set list these days with so much material at his disposal - was it all the hits, personal favourites, obscure B-sides, just the latest material or did he ever throw in a cover for the hell of it?

Bryan wrote: "I play all the songs people like and spice it up with whatever comes up that night. It’s great to have so many songs to choose from.

"We added the completely unknown song 'Star' to our last few shows as we are currently rehearsing for our upcoming Royal Albert Hall shows. That also came as a fan request."

Noting his highly respected work as a portrait photographer, we asked how his work on injured British war veterans came about, something which would obviously resonate with a military city like Plymouth.

Bryan wrote: "Thank you. I had taken a photo of a wounded vet and that inspired me to do a book called 'Wounded - The Legacy of War”' I had started working on it around the time of the Afghanistan war/just after second Iraq war, the idea being to make a document of the time, because no one expected it would have taken such a heavy toll."

PlymouthLive reminded Bryan that one of his pictures for his Wounded book was of well known Plymouth Royal Marine veteran Mark Ormrod, who has since gone on to become an award-winning author, motivational speaker and inspirational athlete who won seven gold medals - four gold - at the Invictus Games and became an MBE in 2020. Would Bryan popping in to see him on his visit to Plymouth?

Bryan answered: "That’s a very good idea, I’ll invite him!"

As for taking photos of the very photogenic Plymouth - and the sometimes photogenic Plymothians - would he consider digging out the Leica during his gig to take shots of his own?

He replied: "It’s the iPhone these days and yes, especially from the stage!"

With a successful career in music and creating a similarly successful career in photography, we asked what advice Bryan could give other budding musician and photographers in the South West.

Bryan wrote: "You really have to believe in yourself and never take no for an answer. If I’d listened to the nay-sayers that I came across, nothing would ever have happened."

Get tickets to Summer Sessions and find out more information here.

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