Remembering Gene Simmons
Posted July 24, 2007 - firstname.lastname@example.org
When a friend from Jackson informed me of the sad passing of Gene
Simmons, on 29th August 2006, in Tupelo (MS) after a long illness, I
thought I must write something about that cat. 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 `cause 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
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.
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