Adam Wade, a versatile, velvet-voiced troubadour, who scored three consecutive Billboard Top 10s in just one year, appeared in numerous films, plays, and television productions, and in 1975, becoming the first black host of a network television game show, died. on Thursday at his home in Montclair, NJ. He was 87 years old.
His wife, Jeree Wade, a singer, actress and producer, said the cause was complications from Parkinson’s disease.
In May 1975, CBS announced that they would breaking the barriers of racism on television by naming Mr. Wade the master of ceremonies of a daily afternoon game show, “Musical Chairs”.
Held at the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan and co-produced by music director Don Kirshner, the show outstanding guest music performances, with four contestants competing to complete the lyrics and answer questions about the music. (Among the guests performing were the Spinners and singer Irene Cara.)
The novelty of a black MC was not universally accepted: An Alabama affiliate of CBS refused to do the show, and hate letters poured in – including, Mr. Wade said. Connecticut Public Radio In 2014, a letter from a man “says he doesn’t want his wife to sit at home watching the Negro give money and smart people”.
The show was canceled after less than five months. Still, Mr. Wade said, “It probably added 30 years to my career.”
That career began when a musician friend invited him to New York to audition for a music publisher. At the time, Mr. Wade was working as a laboratory technician for Dr. Jonas E. Salk, the developer of the polio vaccine.
He first recorded for Coed Records in 1958, and two years later moved to Manhattan, where he performed with singer Freddy Cole, brother of idol Nat King Cole. Quickly rising up the show business ladder, he soon opened doors for Tony Bennett and for comedian Joe E. Lewis at trendy Copacabana nightclub.
“Two years ago, he was Patrick Henry Wade, $65-a-week assistant to virology experiments in Dr. Jonas E. Salk’s lab at the University of Pittsburgh,” The New York Times wrote in 1961. “Today he is Adam Wade, one of the country’s rising young singers in nightclubs and records.”
That same year, he recorded three songs that reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100: “Take Good Care of Her” (which peaked at #7), “The Writing on the Wall” (#7). number 5) and “As if I didn’t know” (number 10).
Patrick Henry Wade was born on March 17, 1935 in Pittsburgh to Pauline Simpson and Henry Oliver Wade Jr. He was raised by grandparents Henry and Helen Wade. His grandfather was a janitor at the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research (now part of Carnegie Mellon University).
Wade attended Virginia State University on a basketball scholarship, initially dreaming of one day playing for the Harlem Globetrotters. But he dropped out after three years and went to work in Dr. Salk’s lab at the University of Pittsburgh. When undecided on whether to accept the record deal Coed offered, Mr. Wade consulted Dr. Salk.
“He told me he had this opportunity,” Dr. Salk said Time at that time. “I told him that he had to search his own soul to find out what was in him that he wanted to reveal.”
Mr. Wade changed his first name – his agent said there were too many Pats in the show business – and had his first hit with the song “Ruby” in the early 1960s. Voice style His smooth singing is often compared to Johnny Mathis, but Mr. Wade said he was mainly influenced by a boyhood idol, Nat King Cole.
“So I guess that tells you how good my imitation skills are,” he said.
As an actor, he has appeared on television soap operas, including “The Guiding Light” and “Search for Tomorrow” and in comedies such as “The Jeffersons” and “Sanford & Son.” . He was also seen in “Shaft” (1971), “Come Back Charleston Blue” (1972) and other films, and on stage in a 2008 touring troupe of “The Color Purple”.
He and his wife run Songbird, a company that produces historical African-American films, including the musical “Shades of Harlem,” which was staged off-Broadway at the Village Gate in 1983.
The couple performed for the last time at an anniversary party this year.
In addition to Mrs. Wade, whom he married in 1989, he is survived by their son, Jamel, a documentary filmmaker; three children, Sheldon Wade, Patrice Johnson Wade and Michael Wade, from his marriage to Kay Wade, which ended in 1973; and some grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
For all of his success in the show business, Mr. Wade said he’s particularly proud that 40 years after dropping out of college, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Lehman College in Bronx and a master’s degree in theater history and criticism from the Brooklyn School, both bachelors. of the City University of New York. He taught speech and theater at Long Island University and Bloomfield College in New Jersey.
“I was the first in my family to go to college,” he told Connecticut Public Radio. “Back then I promised my grandmother that I would finish college one day. Years later, I kept that promise.”