Veteran local piano man Dean Adair has been a fixture of Park City’s music scene for decades. He and his touring band began playing Main Street in the 1980s when live music venues were scarce. “We were a trio: keyboard, guitar, and drums, mostly playing adult rock. We played at Cicero’s, The Club, and the Alamo,” he says. “A couple of them are gone now.” (In fact, they are all gone now.)
Growing up in Washington state, Adair taught himself to play at age five. “The piano was just sitting there in the living room. My parents bought it so my older brother could learn, but he wasn’t interested. It just came naturally to me. I never learned to read music. It’s like it was in the air. I don’t know how else to explain it.”
In high school, Adair was recruited by a rowdy rock band called The Wilde Knights. The band broke out on tour, thanks in part to songs written by Adair. In the late 1960s, the band appeared on the Dick Clark Show and played often at the legendary Whiskey a Go Go nightclub in Los Angeles, opening for groups like The Doors, The Beach Boys, Herman’s Hermits, and Paul Revere and the Raiders. (The Raiders recorded “Just Like Me,” one of Adair’s songs, which reached number 11 on the US charts.) When the other band members were drafted into the Vietnam War, Adair struck out on his own, managing and touring with several bands throughout the West for 30 years.
In the 1990s, Adair re-created himself as a solo performer because he “got tired of hiring new drummers all the time,” he says. “What I do now is pretty weird,” jokes Adair, who was at the forefront of synthesized music decades ago. He generated his own backup band, complete with a chorus, a bassist, and a drummer that “never gets drunk,” Adair says. He also moved to Park City permanently in the ’90s, performing nightly for years at a popular piano bar in the old Radisson Hotel.
Today, Adair still holds court every Tuesday night at the O’Shucks Bar & Grill in Pinebrook (8178 Gorgoza Pines Rd, 435.658.0233). His half-century musical journey propelled him from the verge of rock-and-roll stardom in the late 1960s to a quiet life a block away from his now-favorite haunt. “I still like to perform because it’s me,” he says. “I’ll just keep playing as long as I can, for the love of it—and for the free beer.”