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A Brief History of Ryan Adams Playing ‘Summer of 69’

It could be one of the most unoriginal heckles in rock music but Ryan Adams has played "Summer of '69" more than once.

On April 28, during a performance at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, Ryan Adams played a solo acoustic cover of Canadian rocker Bryan Adams’ “Summer Of ’69.” Ten years earlier he kicked a heckler out of the same venue for requesting that song.

The song and the heckle have followed Adams throughout his career and it’s easy to see why. There is the name similarity and the fact that Ryan and Bryan share November 5 as a birthday. Also both their fan base consists of account managers who after throwing back some pale ale while wearing cowboy shirts, think it’s hilarious to scream “How about “Summer of 69?”

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Much has been said of the meltdown that Ryan Adams, who is returning to Australia for shows including Splendour in the Grass in July, had in Nashville almost 13 years ago. A solo acoustic gig at the famed theatre featured appearances by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch and one obnoxious guy who for most of the show kept calling for “Summer of 69”.

There are differing stories of what happened that night in Ocotber 2002 but from most accounts the guy yelling stuff was being a dick. It was how Adams handled the situation that had people talking. In a curse-filled rant the singer, demanded the house lights be turned on, gave the guy a $40 cash refund then had him booted from the venue.

No biggie. But Ryan Adams being Ryan Adams later took to Tumblr where he called the esteemed Ryman Auditorium, formerly the Grand Ole Opry House:

“a shithole ……that has the balls to charge you for security when you play there but if some college kid, and I mean SOUTHERN college kid decides to get wasted and scream through seven songs of a solo acoustic performance, they could give a fuck …”

Bryan wasn't spared either:

“I seriously could give six shits about Bryan Adams or that song. In my opinion he is not a serious artist. His songs have ” implied target market audience” written all over them and in fact he is quite embarrassing in general.”

Bur back in April, after finishing a two-night stint at the Ryman, Adams performed - without any irony or mocking humour - an acoustic version of "Summer of 69." Maybe it was an apology.

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Nashville wasn’t the first time Ryan, who was eleven years old when the track was released in 1985, has covered the “Summer of 69”. There is audio of him playing the song during a performance in Dublin in 2002, and in 2005 when touring Australia with the Cardinals Adams played a shambolic cover of the song in Sydney with most of the lyrics changed.

Adams has had issues with the song for some time. In 2006 he told Spin that his audience are “a bunch of fucking cocks”. “They come to my shows just to provoke me,” he said. “I had to go into therapy because of the whole Bryan Adams 'Summer Of ’69' thing.”

But perhaps the most troubling thing to have come out of all this, is that Bryan Adams is now considering covering a Ryan Adams track.

Speaking to SFGate last week the Canadian said, “I think it was some sort of cathartic release for him to return to that venue and play that song, as you probably know the story there. So I think in some ways, he has been haunted by the song somewhat, which is a shame because it’s a really great song. Anyway, I’m happy he did it. He’s a great artist. And sure I’d sing one of his songs, I’m not sure which one though."

So the lesson that should be learned here is stop yelling shit out at shows people!

“Summer of '69” played by Ryan Adams:
April 28, 2015 - Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN
July 26, 2005 - Enmore Theatre, Sydney Australia
November 27, 2002- Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Ireland
November 28, 2001 - Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA
November 13, 2001 - Roseland Theatre Portland, OR

Catch Ryan Adams performing in Australia:
July 20 – Melbourne at the Forum
July 21 – Sydney (solo) at Sydney Opera House
July 23 – Sydney at the Enmore