In 2002, when Ryan, 42, was in early stages of his career, he was performing to a sell-out crowd in Nashville,Tennessee, some of whom had apparently mistaken him for the Canadian rocker, then a major star in the U.S.
One drunken fan then began shouting requests for Bryan's 1985 hit Summer of '69, which enraged Ryan so much he stopped his concert and paid the man to leave his show.
In an article published in the New York Times, Ryan recalled the now famous incident, writing, "I said, "Hey man, if you were trying to ruin the show you succeeded, but I need to try and finish this - it's my job." I pulled out two $20 bills and said: "Here is your money, please take a taxi and leave here. Go home and take an aspirin. Please. Leave."
In his article the singer-songwriter explained that as the story was picked up by the Associated Press, he became the target for other hecklers demanding he played Bryan's songs.
However he feels the fall out from the altercation made him a far stronger person.
"All of the humor and self-deflection I would ever learn came from that night," the musician recalled. "I am now grateful for it all. I know the nature of people. I know how they will throw insults and rock a boat just to watch a person go over the side. But I know they are not all cruel. Away from the stage lights, I would study others and look for that good."
Ryan also revealed that being the butt of BRyan Adams jokes made him forge a bond with his similarly named peer who he emails each year on their shared 5 November birthday.
"I became the person who would send an email every year to the genius writer of that (Summer of '69) song on his birthday, which is also mine," he added.
Explaining that he now felt sympathy with the drunken heckler, having decided to quit drinking after suffering from drug and alcohol problems.
"I would learn how to show empathy, or fight for myself, or make fun of it all, and shine some love on that lonely, crazy person we have all stood next to before, screaming into the night from the shadows," he added. "I toasted the last drink I ever drank to that heckler the day I cleaned up."