As a featured guitarist in producer Cosimo Matassa's renowned J&M studio band, Justin Adams played on a number of the classic recordings that constitute the foundation of the New Orleans R&B and rock & roll of the 1950s and early '60s. Adams was born in the Crescent City on June 1, 1923, but little else is known of his formative years. By the early '50s, he was a steady presence at J&M, appearing on Matassa-produced sessions headlined by Shirley & Lee, Professor Longhair, Smiley Lewis, and others. In September 1955, Adams took part in one of the seminal sessions in rock & roll history, joining producer Bumps Blackwell, tenorist Lee Allen, baritone saxophonist Alvin "Red" Tyler, bassist Frank Fields, and drummer Earl Palmer to help Little Richard create the seismic "Tutti Frutti." He also appears on the vast majority of the records issued via Johnny Vincent's Ace label. But while reliable and more than competent, Adams never seemed to crack the upper echelon of New Orleans guitarists -- producer Dave Bartholomew used Adams sparingly (he appears on only one Fats Domino session, from May 1956), and his credit is attached to far fewer sessions than Ernest McLean, Edgar Blanchard, Roy Montrell, and Walter "Papoose" Nelson, generally considered the cream of the Big Easy's six-string crop. Adams died of a heart attack on July 2, 1991.
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