Joe Adams
National Visionary

Born April 11, 1924 in Los Angeles, California

Entertainment manager, actor and long-time
manager of Ray Charles

For over four decades, Joe Adams has been "The Man Behind the Man," Ray Charles. He has handled Charles' career since 1958 as manager, producer and promoter. However, Adams was a well-known major network radio personality and actor long before he joined Ray Charles.

Adams with his father.

This interview has
been archived in the
NVLP Collection of
African American
Oral Histories at the
Library of Congress
American Folklife
Born on April 11, 1924 in Los Angeles, California, Adams spent his childhood in Watts, a suburban area of Los Angeles. He realized at a young age that he wanted to go into radio as an announcer during a time when it was unheard of for African Americans to succeed in the industry. Determined to overcome racial barriers, he taught himself the art of public speaking by practicing aloud in vacant lots. His hard work paid off in the 1940s, when Art Grogan, owner of the Santa Monica Station KOWL, gave him the opportunity to go on the air.

Two years later Adam's daily radio show was the #1 rated deejay show in Los Angeles. He accrued 56 sponsors for his airtime on KOWL, marking the beginning of an auspicious radio career that eventually spanned twenty years.

During the late 1940s, Adams branched out into television with two shows of his own, "Adams Alley" for KLAC with a cast of twenty-eight people, and "Joe Adams Presents." Adams was one of the pioneers of that era, using top-name stars and musical greats.

Adams also enjoyed a success as a film actor, appearing in more than 26 motion pictures. Among his most notable roles are Husky Miller in Carman Jones and as Frank Sinatra's psychiatrist in The Manchurian Candidate. His talent as an actor earned him the Foreign Correspondence Award as the Outstanding New Actor Award in 1958. He was the first African American man to win this award.

In the late 1950s, Ray Charles, a friend from his radio days, asked him to join him for a month-long tour. He has been working with Charles ever since. As Vice President/CEO in charge of RPM International, Adams supervises the many activities of the parent company, including its business holdings and publishing companies, Tangerine and Racer Music, as well as Ray Charles Enterprises, which covers the activities of the Ray Charles Orchestra and the Raeletts. In addition, Adams serves as producer of the Ray Charles Show, overseeing everything from lights to wardrobe, which he personally designs for both Charles and the Raeletts.

Although he holds no immediate plans to become an attorney, he has become an expert in entertainment law, and his office is equipped with a complete law library. He and his wife, Emma, have been married more than fifty years.


Ray Charles's Wikipedia Page

Ray Charles' Visionary page

URL (Click to bookmark): http://www.visionaryproject.org/adamsjoe