The first time I met guitarist Adam Roth I had no idea who he was, or that he’d recorded with Jim Carroll or Evan Dando of the Lemonheads. But I was struck by how genuinely cool he is. Roth is over six feet tall, slick as fuck; an old-school Lower East Side punk rock warhorse. His virtuosic guitar chops have earned him a list of composing and recording credits that would make any young rocker drool. But the guy doesn’t talk about himself a lot.
Roth and I were never that close, but to be exact: before meeting him, I’d known his work for decades, not knowing it was his guitar work I was actually hearing. As a kid I'd get insanely stoned and sequester myself in my bedroom to listen to Denis Leary's No Cure For Cancer, and a lot of Jim Carroll's solo work. Roth recorded both. Most recently, he was lead guitar for Liza Colby Sound, and the "guitar voice" and technical advisor for the FX original series Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll. He has written and recorded music for The Ref, Monument Ave, and Long Walk to Forever. He also scored Oscar nominated filmmaker Robert Stone’s documentary Hollywood Vietnam. He met Denis Leary when they were both in college in Boston, and they’ve collaborated on multiple projects, including the song “Asshole,” back in the day and appeared with Leary on MTV Unplugged. Adam Roth is also the recipient of over a dozen ADDY awards for musical jingles for Coke, Heineken, Febreeze, and Budweiser.
Unfortunately, Roth was recently diagnosed with late stage bile duct cancer. According to those close to him it appears terminal, but I hope it’s not because the guy is rad. His family created a GoFundMe page, which, to date, has taken in over $132,000 in donations for treatment, along with kind words from many friends and acquaintances. Here's hoping that his music keeps inspiring those who know it and those who have yet to discover it.
story by Chad Saville
photos by Matt Licari