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Jim Vallance
Background information
Birth name James Douglas Vallance
Also known as Rodney Higgs
Born May 31, 1952 (1952-05-31) (age 57)
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."[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] He retired from the music industry in 2006.

Contents

Profile

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).

Biography

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Early life

Vallance was born in Chilliwack, BC on May 31, 1952.[4] He grew up in Vanderhoof, BC, a small town 10 hours north of Vancouver.[5] 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.[4] 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.[1]

Prism (as Rodney Higgs)

Vallance joined Vancouver jazz-blues-rock band Sunshyne as a drummer in the early 70s.[1] 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.

Adams-Vallance Songwriting Partnership

Early Years

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 & Breakthrough

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.

Reckless & Rise to the Top

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.[4] He was co-recipient with Adams of PRO Canada's William Harold Moon Award for international achievement in 1985.[4]

Northern Lights for Africa

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.[6]

Breakup & Reconciliation

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.[7] 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.

Song Doctor Service

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.

Glass Tiger

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

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.

Retirement

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.

Awards

Vallance has been awarded or honored with over 35 SOCAN and Procan Classics and related awards, as well as awards from BMI, and ASCAP.[4] 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.[4] In 2008 he became a member of the Order of Canada.[4]

Personal life

Vallance married singer Rachel Paiement in the early 1980s. Paiement is a former member of the groups CANO and Morgan. She is a accomplished singer-songwriter in her own right.

Trivia & Anecdotes

  • One of Vallance's grade school teachers was not a fan of his drumming. In middle school, Vallance and a classmate would "jam" at lunch. If the music room was occupied then they would use the library which was closed at lunch. Their "jam" session seriously annoyed Vallance's french teacher whose classroom was directly opposite the library. She complained to Vallance's parents who declined to do anything. The teacher then wrote on Vallance's next report card, "Jim's mind is never on the job. He can't just drum his life away".[9]
  • Vallance most exciting moment as a songwriter happened when he heard "Spaceship Superstar" on the radio for the first time.[8]
  • Vallance decided to use the pseudonym "Rodney Higgs" on the debut Prism album. As a fan of Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Vallance felt "Rodney Higgs" sounded like a name Doyle would use for one of his characters.[1]
  • One of the reasons for Vallance's (Higgs') departure from Prism was a dispute with guitarist and band leader Lyndsay Mitchell over the direction of the songwriting for the band. Vallance preferred to rehearse/re-record a song until it was perfected. Mitchell, on the other hand, preferred to "jam" until a song emerged. Since they were at odds and neither wanted to budge, Vallance volunteered to quit. Mitchell and Vallance remain good friends to this day.[1]
  • Vallance was not initially hired to produce BTO's "Rock 'n Roll Nights" but did in the end. He signed on to write/co-write songs, arrangements and provide "musical direction" for the album while Barry Mraz was the producer. Midway through the recordings, the band was unhappy with the progress under Mraz and decided make changes. They promoted Vallance to producer and told him his first assignment was to inform Mraz he was fired.[10]
  • Bryan Adams is mysteriously on the Prism album Armageddon despite not being an official member of the band. This is due to Vallance continuing to use his pseudonym "Rodney Higgs" even after leaving the band's lineup. Vallance and Adams had just struck a songwriting partnership when Vallance invited Adams to help with his former band's new album . At the time, the band was having problems with songwriting within the group and internal bickering was interfering with recordings. Adams co-writes two songs, "Jealousy" with guitarist Lyndsay Mitchell and "Take It Or Leave It" with Vallance (using his Prism pseudonym "Rodney Higgs".) He also contributes one of his own compositions, "You Walked Away Again", and plays guitar on the chorus.[1]
  • Vallance initially doubled as Adams' record producer for his first album but dropped the role after that at the request of Bruce Allen, Adams' manager. Vallance co-produced the self-titled Bryan Adams with Adams but for the next album, You Want It You Got It, Bob Clearmountain was brought in as producer. Vallance admitted it hurt but he never thought of quitting the songwriting partnership.[7]
  • Although Adams-Vallance contributed two songs for Kiss' Creatures of the Night album, Vallance admits that his is not much of a fan of the band. He explains that at the time he and Adams were still trying to establish themselves and had few clients for their songs. Since the opportunity to have their songs recorded by a world famous band, they might as well take it. "As I sit here, I can only think of three KISS songs: "Rock and Roll All Nite", "I Was Made For Loving You" and "Beth.""[11 ]
  • Gene Simmons is credited as a co-writer on Kiss's version of "Rock And Roll Hell" in 1982 even though he was not an original contributor. The song had already been written years before by Adams-Vallance and recorded by BTO on their album Rock 'N Roll Nights in 1978. Simmons called Vallance and Adams and insisted that another verse be added and that he wanted to write it.[11 ] Vallance and Adams were confused as to why another verse needed to be added. The song was completed and recorded by another band already. Simmons repeated, "You don't understand. The song needs an extra verse and I'm going to write it". After a pause, it then dawned on Vallance and Adams that Simmons wanted a songwriting credit for the song to appear on the album. He just didn't want to say that. Vallance and Adams needed the royalties so they allowed the change. Simmons did have the publishing company adjust the royalties so that Adams-Vallance received 90% and Simmons the remaining 10%. That was his unspoken way of thanking Vallance and Adams for giving him the songwriting credit he wanted.[12]
  • "Run to You" was not originally written for Adams' solo act and only was recorded by him when no other artist picked it up. Producer Bruce Fairbairn contacted Adams-Vallance about writing a song for his new client, Blue Oyster Cult. After listening to their albums, Adams-Vallance settled on writing a song similar to "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" making use of an arpeggiated guitar riff. After hearing it, Blue Oyster Cult declined the song. Adams initially did not think the song suited his solo style so it was then offered to another potential client .38 Special. They also declined it. After several months without finding any takers, Adams-Vallance decided to modify the arrangement and recorded it for the album "Reckless". Needless to say, it is now one of Adams' most recognized songs.[13]
  • The line "Played it 'til my fingers bled" from "Summer of '69" is a reference to a childhood experience of Vallance's. At age 13, he received a guitar for Christmas from his parents. He was so thrilled by it that he played it all day long and into the night. Finally, his father came downstairs and told him to stop as he was keeping everyone up. Vallance complained that his fingers were so sore that "I actually played it 'til my fingers bled!"[9]
  • Vallance played an unusual role in the North Lights for Africa cause in addition to co-writing the song "Tears Are Not Enough". Bruce Cockburn was on a European tour at the time and was originally not included in the recording. A number of the Northern Lights members felt that Cockburn needed to be involved based on his reputation as an international folk singer who championed humanitarian causes. Cockburn had received the Order of Canada in 1982 for his efforts. When contacted, Cockburn's manager replied that his client was interested. Since the song had to be delivered in the next few days for mixing with USA for Africa, Cockburn had to record his line over in Europe. To expedite it all, this required someone to personally fly over and return with the recording in hand. Vallance volunteered and immediately took a 22 hour journey through 5 airports to reach Cockburn's tour in Hamburg, Germany. Once there, he then had to wait for Cockburn to finish his performance. Vallance and Cockburn had never met before so Vallance quickly introduced himself and why he was there. When Vallance asked about arranging to have Cockburn record a line for the charity song, Cockburn stunned Vallance. He stated that he hadn't decided yet whether or not he wanted to be part of it. It turned out that Cockburn told his manager that he was "interested" but that didn't mean his was "committed." Vallance had to restrain his outrage after traveling 22 hours for nothing! Instead, he played the part of charity cause recruiter, artist and compatriot. He argued that it was a world cause, his musical peers and his country that are pleading for him to be involved! Cockburn finally agreed and the recording happened the next day in a studio in Hamburg. Vallance then returned via the same 22 hour route, dropping off the recording on a stopover in Toronto. Upon returning to Vancouver, he collapsed in his own bed exhausted. For his efforts, he was credited as executive producer on the song.
  • Rod Stewart made a bet with Vallance and Adams over a song they wrote for him and lost! Adams-Vallance wrote a song for Stewart initially called "Temptation" in 1985. Stewart was unhappy with the chorus and changed it with one he and Randy Wayne wrote and renamed the song "Another Heartache." Stewart sent a demo tape of the new song back to Vallance and Adams. After listening to it, they didn't like Stewart's version. An argument ensued over the phone with Stewart insisting that his version be recorded. Finally, Stewart put his money where his mouth is and offered to pay $10,000 to a charity if the song wasn't a hit. "Another Heartache" by Rod Stewart peaked at #45 on Billboard's Top 100. Stewart paid up.[14]
  • As an outside songwriter, Vallance's favourite artist/client is Ozzy Osbourne.[15]
  • Despite being a multi-instrumentalist (drums, piano/keyboard, guitar, bass), a former session player and band member in the past, Vallance does not play in Adams' backing band. He leaves the recording and touring to other musicians. Vallance has appeared sparingly in the recording sessions and only once filled in as a drummer for brief tour of Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia in 1984.[15]
  • In an interview in 2004, Vallance boldly stated, "Bryan and I will never write together again."[7] In March 2008, Adams released 11 which contains 3 songs with Vallance credited as co-songwriter.
  • Vallance has won the Canadian music industry Juno award for Songwriter of the Year 4 times, more than anyone else. He was co-winner in 1984 and 1985 with Bryan Adams and then a solo winner in 1986 and 1987. Bryan Adams is next with 3.

References

External links


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