Meet the Professor of Rock

Rock Stars and music are his inspiration

By Emily Olsen, April 6, 2022, Sanpete Messenger
Sanpete County, Utah

Were you raised listening to music on vinyl records?

Do you remember carefully removing a record from its sleeve, placing it on a turntable, and hearing the scratchy sound of the needle making contact with the record before the music started? Oh, the nostalgia!

“No one remembers their first download, but people remember their first album,” says Adam Reader, 45, resident of Manti and host of acclaimed YouTube sensation Professor of Rock.

Reader, a rock ‘n’ roll enthusiast, is an expert of Top 40 song hits and artists from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.

Professor of Rock, a 25-minute internet show, runs Monday through Saturday and features Reader conducting one-on-one interviews with rock ‘n’ roll artists, such as Journey, Kenny Loggins, and Santana.

Reader’s expert interviewing skills and extensive knowledge of music legends has quickly increased his viewership in recent years, particularly during the pandemic. The Professor of Rock YouTube channel now has 500,000 subscribers with 1 million average viewers each week.

“[The show] is kind of a legacy,” he said. “It all began with my dad.”

Reader grew up in Blackfoot, Ida., and his dad used to play songs from the 1960s and ’70s and tell him all about the artists. His dad could also tell him where he was and what he was doing when he heard a song for the first time, particularly those that had made an impact on him years before, such as Crosby, Stills & Nash and the Beatles.

The Professor recalls saving up his allowance as a child to make mixtapes, the predecessor of YouTube playlists.

Now Reader is sharing songs with his kids in the same way, and he tells artists about his experiences. He has found that artists like to hear how their work is being interpreted by the next generation.

In his interviews, he often focuses on his favorite song by an artist, explaining what he likes about it. Then he asks what gave an artist the idea to write the song. You can tell a lot about a person by what songs they consider their favorites.

Reader recalled that Paul McCartney’s favorite song of all time is “God Only Knows,” by the Beach Boys. Of course, that is quite a compliment coming from one of the Beatles.

It makes sense when you understand that the Beatles and the Beach Boys were rivals. The Beatles usually stayed on top, but occasionally the Beach Boys would come out with a song that got more sales, such as “Good Vibrations,” that incorporated a unique sound effect.

Artists were inspired by other artists, particularly in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, when they engaged in a lot of music experimentation, Reader says.

“God Only Knows,” was released on the album “Pet Sounds,” which is Reader’s favorite album of all time and includes, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.”

The Professor has received a lot of positive feedback from artists.

“They call [Reader] a professor for a reason, and [he] brought the best out of me,” says Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon on a Professor of Rock promo.

“I do a talk show. I’ve done a lot of talk. I’ve done ‘The Talk’ and everything else. [Reader is] an awesome interviewer,” says Marie Osmond.

“That was like therapy for me, man,” Mark Foster says at the end of his interview with Reader on the promo. The lead singer of Foster the People continues: “I am going to go back and, like, meditate on what we talked about.”

The Professor of Rock show started nine years ago, briefly contracting with ABC, Walmart, and got close to deals with a few other studios. Upon contracting with Vevo, the show began to flourish.

“I consider [Reader] the three best interviewers out there, says Kenny Loggins on the promo. Loggins was Reader’s first interview. He is famous for “Danger Zone,” the theme song for the movie “Top Gun,” as well as the theme song for the movie “Footloose,” which was filmed in Lehi.

“He really opened the door for me,” Reader says.

When Covid-19 hit, Reader moved to YouTube. He started conducting interviews through Zoom, and the show’s viewership exploded 100 times over.

Since the pandemic started, Reader has interviewed 85 rockstars by Zoom, a method that people now accept as normal.

“I think it’s because I have such a passion for music,” Reader says about why famous artists do interviews with him. Some of his favorite interviews has included Carlos Santana, Van Halen, Ann Wilson of Heart, and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys.

“[Santana] told his mother as a young child that he was going to become a rock star and buy a house for her,” Reader said, noting that Santana made good on his promise.

The artist from Mexico is a very spiritual person and believes in listening to a higher power, humility, and gratitude.”

Reader is also close to Neal Schon, the founder and lead guitarist of Journey, who gave him an electric guitar for Christmas one year.

This year, Reader has lined up a concert series called Professor of Rock Live, which includes artist performances. The first show, featuring Loggins, was on March 18. Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon was also featured on April 1. The series is being held at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts in Park City, 1750 Kearns Blvd.

Tickets run $185 each when purchased in advance on the website, http://www.ParkCityInstitute.org/professor-of-rock-live.

Other concerts are scheduled with Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock of Air Supply (April 15) and Lou Gramm, former lead singer of Foreigner (July 23). More concerts are also in the works and will be announced soon.

Reader moved to Manti in 2020 with his wife, Leslie, and two children. They moved into an historic home on Union Street known as the Brigham House built in 1859.

The home, used as a bed and breakfast for generations, was where Brigham Younng was known to have stayed during his visits to Manti.

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