|Birth name||James Douglas Vallance|
|Also known as||Rodney Higgs|
|Born||May 31, 1952|
|Origin||Chilliwack, BC, Canada|
|Genres||Rock, AOR, pop rock, hard rock, heavy metal, pop, jazz, blues, country|
|Occupations||Musician, songwriter, arranger, producer|
|Instruments||Drums, percussion, piano, keyboards, guitar, bass|
|Years active||1977 – 2005 (retired)|
|Labels||A&M Records, Universal, Polydor|
|Associated acts||Prism, Bryan Adams|
|Website||Jim Vallance homepage|
James Douglas "Jim" Vallance, OC (born May 31, 1952 in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada) is a retired Canadian musician, songwriter, arranger and producer based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. He is best known as the former songwriting partner of Canadian international recording artist Bryan Adams. He began his professional career as the original drummer and principal songwriter for the Canadian rock group Prism under the pseudonym "Rodney Higgs." In addition to Adams, Vallance has written songs for many famous international artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Aerosmith, Carly Simon, Rod Stewart, Roger Daltrey, Tina Turner, Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Anne Murray and Joe Cocker. His most recognizable songs are "Spaceship Superstar" (Prism), "Cuts Like a Knife" (Bryan Adams), "Heaven" (Bryan Adams), "Summer of '69" (Bryan Adams), "Rag Doll" (Aerosmith), "Now and Forever (You and Me)" (Anne Murray) and "Edge of a Dream" (Joe Cocker.) He also co-wrote "Tears Are Not Enough" for Northern Lights for Africa, an ensemble of Canadian recording artists in support of the 1985 African famine relief. He has won the Canadian music industry Juno award for Composer of the Year four times (a record.) Vallance is a Member of the Order of Canada. He retired from the music industry in 2006.
Jim Vallance is a pure songwriter. Although he has credits as a musician and record producer, they are actually few. His true love is simply songwriting. More than that, he enjoys writing songs with other artists. He is best known as Bryan Adams' songwriting partner from 1978 to 1989. Starting in 1985, Vallance began a consulting style songwriting service for other artists. He would work directly with the artist by assisting them in co-writing songs for their albums. His list of clients are the "Who's Who" of the recording industry and across many music genres: pop, poprock, rock, hard rock, heavy metal and country.
Ironically, Vallance lives in almost total anonymity outside the music industry. The role of a pure songwriter is low profile to the music buying public. Many do not recognize his name despite having many of his songs in their collections. Only true music enthusiasts who read the album credits recognize his name. Even at that, most know little about him without researching his background as he does few interviews. Even in his home country, most Canadians do not recognize his name despite Vallance winning the music industry Juno award for Songwriter of the Year 4 times.
Vallance is also deeply involved with the music industry member associations. Performing Rights Organization of Canada Limited (PROCAN), Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), FACTOR and Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC).
Vallance was born in Chilliwack, BC on May 31, 1952. He grew up in Vanderhoof, BC, a small town 10 hours north of Vancouver. He took piano lessons starting at age 7. He then took up guitar and drums at 13. In 1965, he formed a band with some classmates called The Tremelones which was later renamed The Fourmost. At 18, he enrolled in the music program at the University of British Columbia where he studied piano under Frances Marr Adaskin. After completing first year he dropped out to join a Vancouver jazz band. He re-entered the program again in 1973 but dropped out after 6 weeks to travel Europe with a friend.
Vallance joined Vancouver jazz-blues-rock band Sunshyne as a drummer in the early 70s. There he met band member Bruce Fairbairn who would later became an influential Canadian record producer. In 1975, Fairbairn approached Vallance about making a demo of some of the band's music in hopes of landing a recording contract. Initially the music was not Vallance's but after several rehearsals Fairbairn asked Vallance to contribute some of his songs. One of them, "Open Soul Surgery" caught the ear of a record company executive at GRT who handed Fairbairn's group a recording contract. Using various musicians from Sunshyne and another Vancouver band, Seeds of Time, Fairbairn recorded and produced a nine song album, seven of which were written by Vallance. The band was renamed Prism and Vallance decided to use the pseudonym "Rodney Higgs" rather than his real name in the album credits. He was afraid that if the album failed, he would never get another recording contract for his own songs. The debut Prism album was a success as it hit platinum status in Canada (sales in excess of 100,000.) But Vallance decided for several reasons to leave the Prism lineup before the next album. First, he did not enjoy the lifestyle of touring with the constant travel. What he did enjoy was songwriting and arranging and preferred to work out of his makeshift home studio. Finally, he had a falling out with guitarist and band leader Lyndsay Mitchell over songwriting. Although Vallance left the band's lineup, he did help his former band mates by contributing one song for each of the subsequent two albums.
Upon leaving the Prism lineup, Vallance worked as a session musician in and around Vancouver to earn a living while his ultimate objective was to be full time songwriter. He was in need of a performing artist as a vehicle to promote his songs. Meanwhile, a talented, brash, young artist named Bryan Adams had just established himself on Vancouver music scene with a local band Sweeney Todd. Adams decided to leave the band for a solo career but at 18, he was still inexperienced in the music business. In search of assistance, an informal meeting was arranged between Vallance and Adams at a local record store. Vallance and Adams had known about each other through the local music scene although they had never been introduced. At the meeting, both admitted they liked the idea of a songwriting partnership and agreed to forge one. The arrangement was twofold. In the long term, the songs would be primarily used as material for Adams' solo career while, in the short term, they would serve as a source of income by licensing songs to other artists.
The early going was quite difficult. Adams' demo recordings was rejected by numerous record companies. The songwriting tandem was unknown and as such most artists were not interested in considering their songs. Persistence paid off as finally, Adams was awarded a recording contract by A&M late in 1978. Meanwhile, Vallance then landed a lucrative contract to write and produce BTO's next album Rock n' Roll Nights through his association with talent manager Bruce Allen. In all 5 songs were contributed: Vallance wrote one and co-wrote 2 other songs with BTO members, Adams wrote "Wastin' Time" and the Adams-Vallance Rock 'n Roll Hell. In 1979, Prism was back in the studio to record their third album, Armageddon and needed help with songwriting. Since the departure of Vallance (Rodney Higgs), the current lineup was unable to fill the songwriting void adequately. Vallance brought his new protege, Adams, along to help. Adams wrote or co-wrote 3 songs for the album and played guitar on one track. "Take It Or Leave It" was credited as "B. Adams/R. Higgs" since Vallance wanted to identify with his Prism fans by using his pseudonym. Vallance then landed another contract through Bruce Fairbairn to write songs for Ian Lloyd in 1980 and again in 1982. In total, 6 Adams-Vallance compositions were used by Lloyd and another 4 were collaborations between Vallance and Lloyd's band. In 1982, Vallance and Adams receive a call from producer Michael James Jackson inquiring about contributing songs for the next Kiss album. Although Vallance and Adams were not heavy metal fans, it was a golden opportunity for exposure for their songs by a world class rock act. With outside collaboration from Gene Simmons, "War Machine" and a re-written "Rock 'n Roll Hell" were recorded for Kiss' Creatures of the Night release that year. Later, Bonnie Riatt who heard a demo of their song "No Way To Treat A Lady" decided to record it. Between 1980 and 1982, Adams recorded and released his first two solo albums, self-titled Bryan Adams and You Want It You Got It. Vallance doubled as co-producer on the first. Although neither album was a big success, Adams' extensive touring helped him garner a lot of recognition as an artist. The Adams-Vallance songwriting team was starting to gain momentum.
Cuts Like a Knife was Adams' breakthrough album. Released in 1983, it established him as a legitimate North American music star (the album did not chart in Europe.) It also established the Adams-Vallance songwriting team in the music industry as other artists started to consider their songs seriously. The album spun 3 singles: "Straight from the Heart", "Cuts Like a Knife" and "This Time". "I'm Ready", "The Only One" and "Take Me Back" also received airplay. Ironically, "Straight from the Heart" was the highest charting of the three and is not a Vallance composition. It was written by Adams with the title donated by his friend Eric Kagna (credited as Adams-Kagna.) The others were Adams-Vallance compositions. The album Cuts Like a Knife was certified three times platinum in Canada and certified one times platinum in the US. At the Canadian Juno music awards, "Cuts Like a Knife" and "Straight from the Heart" were nominated for a for Single of the Year, while "Cuts Like a Knife" won the Composer of the Year award for Adams-Vallance.
Just as Cuts Like a Knife made him a star, Reckless made Adams an international superstar. And it did the same for the Adams-Vallance songwriting team. By the end 1985 Reckless had spun off 6 singles and was selling millions of copies worldwide. Adams-Vallance was now considered one of the top songwriting acts in the music industry. No longer did they have to forward demos to artists hoping they would consider them as now their agents were contacting Adams-Vallance requesting their services.
The Adams-Vallance team wrote songs for artists such as Paul Dean, Kiss, Bonnie Raitt and many others. After sharing Juno Awards as composer of the year with Adams in 1984 and 1985, Vallance won two awards alone in 1986 and 1987. He was co-recipient with Adams of PRO Canada's William Harold Moon Award for international achievement in 1985.
Vallance was involved in the Northern Lights for Africa famine relief cause in 1985 as co-writer and executive producer of the song, Tears Are Not Enough. David Foster had been contacted by Quincy Jones, producer of the USA for Africa ensemble, asking him if he could the same by Canadian artists. The American artists had just recorded theirs and were interested in including one by the Canadian artists on the album. Foster accepted and immediately approached Vallance who he knew was working out of the same studio at that time. Although Foster and Vallance knew each other through the music industry, they had never collaborated on a song before this. Foster arrived at Vallance's home the next day and the two worked on the music in Vallance's home studio. Foster had to leave that evening to return to the studio and left the lyrics to Vallance. Rachel Paiement, Vallance's wife, wrote the french lyrics as she is franco-Ontarian and a songwriter in her own right. Bryan Adams returned from touring the following day to help complete the lyrics. The title was taken from an unrelated, unrecorded song by Bob Rock and Paul Hyde of the Canadian band The Payola$ who Foster was producing at the time. The songwriting is credited to Foster, Vallance, Adams, Paiement, Rock & Hyde. The recording with the grand ensemble of Canadian artists took place on February 10, 1985 at Manta Studios in Toronto, Ontario. Vallance played the drums on the recording. Vallance was also credited with executive produced for recording Bruce Cockburn's part in a studio in Hamburg, Germany.
During 1988 - 1989, the Adams-Vallance songwriting partnership became strained to the point that it was dissolved. Adams was under intense pressure from the record company to return to his earlier, more successful sound of Reckless. His previous release, Into the Fire, was critically acclaimed and sold well but compared to "Reckless" it was a considered a failure by management which was counting on higher revenues from Adams' releases. Meanwhile, Vallance had just become a father and his lifestyle had changed considerably. He could no longer afford to spend long days and weeks in confinement working on songs with Adams. Also, Adams complained that Vallance was giving away too much creative effort writing songs with other artists. Adams insisted that Vallance put his outside songwriting on hold for a year to focus on Adams' next album. Vallance complied with Adams' request despite his objections. After several failed attempts to write and record what Adams felt was suitable material, the team fell into heated, repeated arguments. In September 1989, Vallance informed Adams that he no longer wanted working with him and the Adams-Vallance partnership ended. The split was acrimonious as for several years Adams and Vallance did not speak except through the media. Around the mid-90s they put aside their differences and became friends with the understanding their songwriting partnership was over. In 2003, Adams approached Vallance inquiring if he would like to co-write a few songs for his next album. Vallance agreed and 3 songs on Adams' album 11 are credited with Vallance as co-writer.
During and after the dissolution of the Adams-Vallance songwriting partnership, Vallance offered a consulting style songwriting service for other artists. The music industry term for this is a "song doctor." Often Vallance was hired by a record company or an artist's manager to help inject some creativity or mainstream sound into an artists songs. In most cases, the artist was in deep trouble with the recording company over falling sales of their releases. Either the artist had lost their creative edge or needed to adopt a more mainstream sound to gain airplay and boost sales. One of Vallance's first clients, and the best example, is Aerosmith. The results were often very successful as proven by Vallance's numerous awards.
Vallance never wrote songs for his clients, rather, he worked with the artist in co-writing songs.
Following the release of Reckless, Vallance began his "song doctor" service and his first client was a new Canadian band Glass Tiger. Initially hired to help with arrangements, the band was so impressed with Vallance that they asked him to produce their debut album. Vallance co-wrote such hits as "Someday" and "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)." "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" won the Canadian music industry Juno award for 1986 Single of the Year.
Following Glass Tiger's second album, Vallance declined offers to produce future albums. He cited the long hours and tedious work as reasons. He had more enjoyment in just the songwriting and arranging.
Aerosmith is not only one of Vallance's first "song doctor" clients, they are also one of his best examples for his service. In 1986, Aerosmith was a band in turmoil. Their previous album Done with Mirrors went below the radar in sales and airplay. Worse, bandmembers alcohol and drug habits were causing problems. Geffen Records would only fund their next recording provided all the bandmembers complete drug and alcohol rehab which they did. After listening to the demos, the record company did not believe there was any material that would get them airplay. A second condition was then placed on them and that was to have outside songwriters used to improve the songs. Desmond Child and Jim Vallance were the "song doctors" hired. Initially, band members were not warm to the idea.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Vallance helped write numerous songs for American hard rock band Aerosmith, including the hit singles "Rag Doll" (1987), "Hangman Jury" (1987), "The Other Side" (1989), "Eat the Rich" (1993), and "Deuces are Wild" (1994), in addition to several other Aerosmith songs.
Jim Vallance retired from the music business in 2006. He cited reasons such as creative burnout, a lack of association with newer artists and an overall fatigue from the pressure of working in the recording industry for 30 years. He has turned his recording studio over to his son and now spends his time researching family genealogy.
Vallance has been awarded or honored with over 35 SOCAN and Procan Classics and related awards, as well as awards from BMI, and ASCAP. Vallance served on the boards of PROCAN (1985-90); SOCAN (1996-8, 2000-3, 2006-9); FACTOR (1985-7); and the Songwriters Association of Canada in 2008, and the latter's advisory board 1998-2008. In 2008 he became a member of the Order of Canada.