GENE SIMMONS, "HI" Recording Star is Dead

A friend from Jackson informed me of the sad passing of Gene Simmons, on 29th August 2006, in Tupelo (MS) after a long illness. He was a great star on "HI" records, out of Memphis but before that he was associate with Sam Phillips "Sun" Label. Let me tell you about his "Rockabilly" days.

Gene Simmons was born in Tupelo on 10th July 1937 and started recording for "Sun" records in 1956. But, before that move to Memphis, he had with his brother on guitar a radio show on WDLP where played also The Miller Sisters. After meeting Elvis after a show in Tupelo, in 1955, he started looking for opportunities in Memphis and headed for an audition. Sam advice him to left behind fiddle and mandolin and to come back with some Rock and Roll songs. On 3th January 1957, they will cut on the legendary studio the classic Rockabilly song "Crazy Woman" who stayed in the vaults until the mid 70's when it was issued in France. Coupled with "If I'm not Wanted" on the single Sun 602, it will have a huge success among the Rockabilly buffs. Another single with unissued material will soon follow with the wild "Money, Money, Money" and "I Don't Love you Baby" (Sun 613). Those two singles are much sought after collectors items now Ścause the music is hot and just few were issued.

His only single on "Sun" will be on the market in June 1958 offering "Drinkin' Wine" b/w "I done Told You". Why Sam Phillips had waited so long with those songs recorded in 1956 and 1957 is a mystery. Stayed also on the vaults many songs as "Juicy Fruit", "Peroxide Blond and A Hopped Up Model Ford", "Pop and Mama" or "Chains of Love" who will find them way on Charly records (UK) in the early 80's.

Gene Simmons moved for Memphis and worked on the famous Cotton Club with Clyde Leoppard and was featured as vocalist in the Bill Black Combo. He will work in Canada too where came the inspiration for "Goin' Back to Memphis". That song cut in Memphis was issued on Checker 948 in 1960. "The Shape you left me in" will stay unissued until it was offered on the classic "Chess Rockabillies" LP in England around 1977. That song will be cut again in 1961 and issued on Memphis label "Hi". With that label Gene will meet worldwide success with songs as "Haunted House", "The Dodo" or ""Folsom Prison Blues".

Gene's recordings for Sun are first class and "Crazy Woman" is still a dance floor filler. You can find easily those recordings on Charly records (UK) or Bear Family records (Germany). What's better for a Hep Cat to dream about a "Crazy Woman" or a "Peroxide Blond" with "Money, Money, Money" and no "Chains of Love".

Rest in peace, Gene, you are part of the Rockabilly legend and your songs will be hear for years.

Camille Daddy. Brest R'n'R Society (France)

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