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The Canary Flies: New Orleans' Johnny Adams Dies

September 16, 1998 12:00 AM ET

Johnny Adams, one of the greatest practitioners of New Orleans-style rhythm and blues, died on Monday after a long battle with cancer. The singer, whose clear, trilling voice earned him the nickname "The Tan Canary," began his career in the gospel realm, moving into secular music in the late Fifties on the heels of close friend and Crescent City legend Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack.

Hugely popular in the deep south, Adams' first national hit came in 1969, when "Reconsider Me" -- still a staple on soul radio -- cracked the Billboard charts. He shifted gears in recent times, delving deeper and deeper into the blues on nearly a dozen albums recorded for Rounder Records in the past decade.

While he kept up a rigorous touring and recording schedule over the years, Adams was diagnosed with prostate cancer last fall, and after surgery, the disease was found to have spread. He was able to record one final album, the shimmeringly soulful Man of My Word, which was released just last month.

Adams was sixty-six years old.

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