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Bobby Simms (born Robert Siemiaskzo) was still in High School when he was approached to do some vocals with the Mus-twangs. Bob recalls that it was some time in 1961, probably very late 1961. He had an Amp that a guy that worked near St. Michael's H.S. wanted to use for a recording and he was using the Mus-twangs for back- up. Bob said "yes" on the proviso that he could go to the session. That's when the Mus-twangs asked him if he sang. They liked what they heard and asked Bob to do a gig at a Teen club in Harvery, Illinois. |
Bob says: "The Mus-Twangs was my first professional gig. I remember when they offered me twenty-five dollars and a gig with an audience filled with teen-aged girls and their great band backing me up as I sang ....Boy! I was in heaven and getting paid too. I was really impressed with the Mus-Twangs, they were professionals who even had recorded a record. I remember Frenchy's drumming, he doubled beats on the bass drum, Jerry's soulful Sax, Bud's unique rhythm guitar, Norm's (Paul Cotton)outstanding tasteful leads and Keith's great bass and showmanship. We did a lot of gigs with Jim Lounsbury who was a local DJ who did teen dances in Chicago."
One gig Bob remembers quite well was in St. Joe, Michigan at a Fair. It took them such a long time to get there. Some of the songs he used to sing at those gigs were Pop songs like Traveling Man, Hello MaryLou, Can't Help Falling In Love, Sweet Dream Baby.
Keith Anderson comments: "Bobby has the most amazing, soaring voice. He really knew the secret of how to sing a phrase. He had many-loyal followers, who would appear nightly to hear him sing. Bobby and I were together with the Mus-Twangs maybe two more years from 1961 before we splintered off to form the Bobby Simms Trio. I need to thank Bobby for teaching me two lessons I have used all my life. Bobby took time out of a(-two-year-long-standing-Bobby Simms Trio-)gig we were playing at the M&B Club on Chicago's South Side, to instruct me. First, when the leader of the band, is talking with the audience, never interrupt. Second, and this is particularly important in a trio, the bass player should never leave unplanned sound gaps...keep the bottom going underneath. I gained a lot of my "chops" and began songwriting at this time. We made some great recordings...on SMASH. I do not think we hit any charts except in Portland, OR with "You're My Everything". One of my greatest memories performing with Bobby Simms, was we opened for the Rolling Stones at the Aierie Crown Theater in Chicago, 1963. This was a be-e-eeg stage and ampitheater. The three of us (plus Marty Grebb on keys) wore white fuzzy shirts, so we would be more visible to the audience. We were little dots on the stage. We never got to talk to nor meet the Stones. I just remember watching champagne bottles fly from the dressing room. Their dressing room door only opened to let the girls in and the bottles fly out -accross the hall - and crash on the wall."
According to Bobby: "Keith was really the leader of the Bobby Simms trio. But he led without ego and was always pushing Bobby Simms. Wally Melnyk,owner of the MB club and I guess our manager was like a father to me. Between Keith and Wally they really helped my confidence and career. Keith, besides those fuzzy shirts we also came up with the idea to dye our hair silver, (maybe after we had a couple of drinks). Boy we were trying anything to be a hit."
In about 1964 Bobby recorded "And You're Mine"/"Do Things Right". Verne Johnson played harmonica as the lead. In about 1965 he recorded "the world is funny"/"youčre my everything". Paul Cotton contributed guitar to both tracks. Apart from "The Bobby Simms Trio", the band was also known later as "Bobby Simms and the Proper Strangers". In about 1966, "Bobby Simms and the Simmers" recorded "Big Mama"/"Please Please Believe". Bob's recollection is that Paul played guitar on the B side.
Along with others that made up "the Simmers", he was an original member of Rotary Connection (later called New Rotary Connection). Formed in 1967, Rotary Connection was a Chicago, USA-based group mixing art-rock and soul. The group was assembled by Marshall Chess, son of Chess Records founder Leonard Chess. Looking to update the company's image, Marshall Chess chose several hip-looking singers and musicians, intending to keep the group's membership revolving with each new recording. The original Rotary Connection included pianist/arranger Charles Stepney, who co-produced with Chess, guitarist/vocalist Bobby Simms, bassist/vocalist Mitch Aliotta, drummer Kenny Venegas, and three vocalists: Sid Barnes, Judy Hauff and Riperton, Minnie. The band made 6 albums in the period through to about 1971. After this Bob started as a single and worked the London House, and Rush street in Chicago where a Baha'i, IBM salesman from Maryland, heard him at the Celebrity Club when they piped the music outdoors. He came in and wanted Bob to sing some songs about a hero in the Baha'i Faith. Bob also did the Holiday Inn circuit, until he wanted to get out of the city. He was visiting friends who were moving to Ludington, a resort area, and he decided this was the place for him. Resounding Pebbles Studio, located on the west coast of Michigan was the culmination of a dream for Bob and wife Linda where he recorded Baha'is as well as other clients with an atmosphere reflecting Baha'i principles. Recorded music included "Words of Wisdom" (1994), "Tree of Life" on the Flight album and "Look to this Day". Look to This Day was recorded at the House of Worship and features two favorites "Kam Kam" and "To Be a Baha'i". Bob has often had the opportunity of serving at Louhelingen Baha'i School with music and devotions for the Family sessions and other events. Bob worked with special needs children and adults as well as doing music therapy classes a week besides in addition to recording and music dates.
November 2003 - Bob & Keith Anderson spent a few days in Chicago for a Bobby Simms Trio reunion (just two of the trio) to play at a 50th wedding anniversary party. Keith Anderson:
"we really did not recognize one another at first! 35 years made a lot of changes. But when we started playing music together, the old "feel" came back. The audience we had 35 years ago and who came together for the 50th Wedding Anniversary - told us we sounded great. We felt great."
Sadly, Bob passed away at Ludington Michigan May 18th 2015 aged 71.