From "A Guide To Straight Label Records & Compact Discs" by Dean R. Hegerty, 2002:
"Triple-threat musician (multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter) Jeff
Simmons first came to the attention of Frank Zappa as a member of
the Seattle-based group Ethiopia (formerly Easy Chair) when they
opened for the Mothers Of Invention at a concert in Seattle. They were
signed by Bizarre, and were part of the legendary Bizarre "Gala Pre-Xmas
Bash" on December 6 & 7, 1968 (along with The Mothers, Wild Man Fischer,
The GTO's, and Alice Cooper) at the Shrine Exposition Hall in
Santa Monica. Soon afterwards, they broke up.
Simmons was then signed to Straight to do not one, but two albums. One was a mostly instrumental (of 14 tracks, only two have vocals) soundtrack for the obscure biker film "Naked Angels". Although it contains mainly fuzz-guitar jams and keyboard-dominant workouts, there is at least one track, 'Camper Dream', that reminds one of a typical Zappa/Mothers track of the time (1969) with its tape-speed trickery and overall weird, warped sound.
Jeff's other Straight album was a more conventional rock album, "Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up". Zappa contributed generously to the album, under the pseudonym Lamarr Bruister. He wrote the title track (which he would later record himself for "Joe's Garage"), co-produced the album (with engineer Chris Huston), played lead guitar on 'Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up' and 'Raye', and co-wrote 'Wonderful Wino' with Simmons. In the notes for Zappa's "The Lost Episodes" CD, Simmons explains that 'Wonderful Wino' came to be after Zappa heard an instrumental track that Simmons had recorded, and then came up with some lyrics for it on the spot. (Zappa would later release his own version of the song on his "Zoot Allures" album. The "Lost Episodes" version is sung by Ricky Lancelotti, and is from the "Overnite Sensation" / "Apostrophe" sessions.)
Simmons wrote the other eight songs on the album, and he is featured on lead vocals, keyboards, bass guitar, and accordion. Helping out are Craig Tarwater (a former member of the legendary L.A. garage band Sons Of Adam) on guitar, Ron Woods on drums (John Kehlior played drums on 'Lucille' & 'Raye'), and Ian Underwood on sax.
Following the recording of his own albums, Jeff assisted Zappa on his "Chunga's Revenge" album. (Check out his outstanding bass work on 'Sharleena'.) He became a member of the "new Mothers", featuring Flo & Eddie. He left the group during the making of "200 Motels", although he would return for appearances on Zappa's "Waka/Jawaka" and "Roxy & Elsewhere" albums.
In the 1980's, Simmons was busy again in Seattle, performing with such bands as The Backtrackers, The Shimmering Guitars, and Cocktails For Ladies. In the 1990's, he was writing a book ("I Joined The Mothers Of Invention... For The F.B.I."), establishing a web page, and working on material for a potential new CD. Also, he is a vital part of the Northwest Rock exhibit in the new Experience Music Project museum in Seattle."
In 2004, Jeff Simmons released his third album, called "Blue Universe".
Saturday, November 6, and Sunday, November 7, 2010, Jeff Simmons took part in a Q&A session at the "Frank Zappa At The Roundhouse" celebration of Frank Zappas music in London, UK. Later the same night, the Dweezil Zappa Played Zappa band performed at the same festival with special guests Ian Underwood, Jeff Simmons & Scott Thunes.
November 07, 2010, Jeff Simmons performed a solo set at the London Sinfonietta concert.
(1969, lp, usa, straight records sts 1056)
lucille has messed my mind up
(1969, lp, usa, straight records sts 1057) - produced by fz, feat.ian underwood & fz, incl. 'lucille...' (frank zappa) & 'wino man' (simmons, zappa)
zappa: chunga's revenge
(1970, lp, usa, bizarre)
(1972, lp, usa, bizarre)
|geoff & maria muldaur: sweet potatoes
(1972, lp, usa, reprise/warner records ms 2073) - feat.jeff simmons, billy mundi
zappa / mothers: roxy & elsewhere
(1974, 2lp, usa, discreet)
|1977 stepson- stepson (harmonica, harp)|
frank zappa- you can't do that on stage anymore (sampler)
|frank zappa: you can't do that on
stage anymore vol.1 (51)
(1988, 2cd, usa, ryko)
|1989 grushecky, joe- rock & real (drums)|
|1989 petra- petra praise: the rock cries out (assistant engineer)|
|1990 petra- beyond belief (assistant engineer)|
|1991 guardian- fire & love (engineer)|
|frank zappa: freaks & motherfu****
(1991, cd, usa, rhino foo-eee records r2 70539)
|zappa / mothers: unmitigated audacity
(1991, cd, usa, rhino foo-eee records r2 70540)
|zappa / mothers: disconnected synapses
(1991, cd, usa, rhino foo-eee records r2 71017)
|zappa / mothers: tengo
na minchia tanta
(1991, cd, usa, rhino foo-eee records r2 71018)
|frank zappa: at the circus
(1991, cd, usa, rhino foo-eee records r2 71020)
|frank zappa: you can't do that on
stage anymore vol.6 (59)
(1992, 2cd, usa, ryko)
|frank zappa: playground psychotics (60)
(1992, 2cd, usa, ryko)
petra- en alabanza (engineer)
(2004, cd, usa, private release)
|jeff simmons: lucille has messed my
mind up / the original soundtrack from naked angels
(2007, 2cd, ger, world in sound records) - re-issue of the first two albums
world in sound tracks - episode 1
(2007, cd, ger, world in sound) - incl. jeff simmons: 'wonderful wino' (simmons, zappa)
penguin in bondage - the little known history of the mothers of
(2011, download, usa, zappa records)
|from straight to bizarre
(2012, dvd, uk, chrome dreams)
|a review of naked angels, for which jeff did the soundtrack.||
The True Story of 200 Motels
In my wanderings around the city, I strolled into an obscure record shop in the U of W area in north Seattle looking for FZ vinyl. The owner told me that Jeff had called him the day before about something (apparently they are old friends) and I told him that someone on the Net was asking about the former Mothers' whereabouts. I was informed that Jeff now does session work and casuals in the area, and is doing well!
Jeff actually had two solo albums on Zappa's STRAIGHT label: "Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up" (STS 1057) was co-produced by Frank Zappa under the pseudonym "LaMarr Bruister"; he also co-wrote the title track and "Wonderful Wino," both of which Zappa re-recorded (on "Joe's Garage" and "Zoot Allures"). Frank also plays lead guitar on "Lucille..." and another song, "Raye."
"Naked Angels," a biker film soundtrack, preceded "Lucille" and is a whole lot groovier-psychedelic, man.
Last Night (3/20/96) I went to visit Rudy "hard Time Baker" of the Seattle Based EDDIE MESQUITTE BAND and who happened to stop by but Jeff Simmons for a little jam session. My wife and I just sat back in the dungy basement and watched the jam session of our life. Jeff was dressed in traditional "Seattle grunge" bandanna and all. Of course the band (EDDIE MESQUITTE) was focused on the moment playing in a small circle when my wife says "HEY, move over I cant see you guys play," (I was a little surprised being a guest) when Jeff walked up to us about a foot away and ROCKED for 15 minutes straight!!
Incredible......... It was the bass guitar jam of a lifetime for us....
If you lived in Seattle who knows who might come on over.....
Just wanted to let you know that I'm a good friend of Jeff Simmons' and he's working on a new CD to be released hopefully by this fall. Some material will be Mothersesque but most will be his own undescribable style. He's also working on a self-published book tentatively titled "I Joined the Mothers for the F.B.I" that will be mail order exclusively.
His Web Page has transmogrified into its latest phase, offering musical sound samples and a downloadable interactive demo.
From: Charles Ulrich (email@example.com)
I just got an e-mail from Joe Travers. He said that "Dummy Up" comes from a filmed soundcheck/rehearsal the day before the first Roxy show. Jeff did not play in the Roxy shows proper.
What has been left out of most Simmon's biographies is his eclectic trans-morphic mid-1980's period in North Seattle where Jeff carved out a unique musical plateau for himself by excelling at all forms of truly anarchic insturmental and obscure rockabilly music. Jeff foremd The Backtrackers in 1984 featuring himself on bass, guitar, and keys and also spotlighting Fred Hopkins on rhythm gtr, Jim Waymeyer on bass, and Rich Spring on drums. Other highly vaunted participants were Linda Woods on drums, Bill Larsen (of The Dynette Set) on 12 string rhythm, Pete "Big Bear" DePoe from Redbone on drums, Jon Bonno (from Juggernaut) on guitar and vocals, Chris Layton (of Randy Bachman' Rion Horse and Union) on drums. It made for some neo-precipitous evenings where fun and joy were nothing to casually scoff at. Jeff's Backtrackers honed in on material as diverse as Joe Turner's version of "Honey Hush," Brian Hyland's "The Joker Went Wild" and Jeff's stinging, but not remorseful, version of the '57 regional hit, "High School Ceaser" (from the Astor picture of the same name.) A few years later, Jeff formed The Shimmering guitars, featuring John Nelson of Crowe Studios on bass, Dr. Phil Kirby (of Easy Chair) on gtr, and Russ Kemmerer (of Locomotive) on drums. Let the pounding begin because this combo tore down every hosue they played. The Shimmering Guitars tended, in the early-to-mid 90's, to concentrate on playing Catholic fund-raising festivals and they wowed these generally sedate crowds. Jeff's original vocals on such tunes as "Treatment Center Break-out" and "Gin Seng Breakdown" aroused crowds to a turgid, frenzied pique. Now Jeff has returned to another goroup, "Cocktails For Ladies" featuring hopkins on rhythm gtr, Steve Abrams on Ventures=style gtr, Nick Hagen (of The Sonics on Bomp) on drums. Jeff, a/ka/ lil Bobby Sumpner, is archetypal on bass and cheesy Euro-trash organ. He is no longer the janitor of the Blues, He is Robert Sumpner, Jr. Exchequer (by Royal Appoitment), Ombudsman, and spare traffic comptroller of the blues. Cocktails for ladies re-unites Simmons with long-time band-member Hopkins, who remember the era, one decade ago, when The Backtrackers flew with a superb rendition of Jeff's biggest hit (to date) "Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up." Jeff is back in the late-90s! He's working on several projects with new age keyboardist/composer Dave Lanz and Jeff is intertaining offes to re-release the legendary Easy Chair 10" LP from 1969, along with newer material cut by most of the original members. The coktail nation movement was only a pathetic imitation of what Jeff has been musically preaching for years. The time has come, pipples, lissen to Lil Bobby rock!
From: fred hopkins
Another part of Jeff's career which is conspicuosly overlooked is his soundtrack to The Naked Angels (1970). It really smokes. There were quite a few copies pressed at one time. I purchased about 30 cut-outs of the album for about 15 cents each in the mid-80's, though I understand now that it goes for collectors' prices. Jeff is playing with an extremely sparse, but not poorly fed, band which, I believe, consists of Doug Hastings (formerly Daily Flash) on gtr and Ron wood (The Dynamics) on drums. Jeff does a few vocals as well as playing keyboards, bass, and gtr. Jeff's vocals and his R'n'B influecnes soar in "Leaving Las Levags Boogie" as well as Rat Grind. The movie, itself, was briefly available on video. The Naked Angels is a gritty, extremely vicious and somewhat oil-stained later entry in the biker cycle starring a few contract players from Warner television. Jeff's music makes this film more than it is, though there is a slightly compelling garage scene where a lonely garage attendant tries to get romantic with a biker-- unsuccessfully.
From: Steve Leathart (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jeff is an old friend of mine whith whom I have played in 3 or 4 bands over the years (each of which lasted about 6 weeks until he got distracted by something else, or had to take a cheeze gig to make some money) He is currently working on (or has finished) a new album of his own stuff with the assistance and support of David Lanz (yes, THAT David Lanz) the new-age keyboard guy that Jeff played with in several bands in the 60's and 70's. Titles include: "Treatment center breakout" "This diddly town" "Girl drummer" and others. Though he played both bass and guitar in the MOI, he considered himself to be primarily a keyboardist (!) He has an unwholesome love for twang guitar and has tried to convince me (and the rest of the band at the time) on numerous occassions that we should learn to play the theme from the TV show "Sea Hunt". Very likely, one of the funniest guys on the planet.
From: "W. Larsen" (email@example.com)
Date: Wed, 1 Jul 1998 13:20:26 -0700
Shuggie Otis is scheduled to play tomorrow night(JULY 2) at the Swiss Tavern in Tacoma Washington. In his band will be none other than JEFF SIMMONS on piano and Jack Lavin from the Powder Blues band on bass.
Tom Tuerff (firstname.lastname@example.org>)
Yesterday I was in Seattle and had some time to spend in the area of the Space Needle, and I noticed that this area was also the location of the brand spanking new Experience Music Project.
One wing of the museum was dedicated to the Northwest influence on Rock and Roll, and Jeff Simmons's first band, (EASYCHAIR), has its own little interactive booth, and the displays there are all narrated by Jeff Simmons, and they include a "what happened" part where Simmons talks about how and where he met Frank, which, to quote Jeff, "really started my career." You also get to hear some music from his early band and from "Naked Angels."
It's a neat thing. So is the whole museum.
From: "J.L. Simmons" (email@example.com)
With Rhino Handmade poised to re-release STS1057 and Naked Angels online, I feel the time is right for me to say, "Send $17.95 and I won't master or release my second album".
From Romān, May 2004:
Jeff Simmons has just e-mailed with the
great news that he's got a new album, the first one after _Lucille Has Messed My
Mind Up_ (1970). It's called _Blue Universe_, and you can find more info on his
and Bill Larsen added:
Jeff will also be doing a Northwest tour early summer and is to be featured on NPR after "Blue Universe" is released.
From Tim Scott, August 2004:
Just a little extra bio material on Jeff (my friend and musical mentor since 1973.)
* Proir to Easy Chair, Jeff was in another psychedelic era Seattle band called "Indian Pudding & Pipe." (I was almost on the same bill with Easy Chair and Juggernaut at a Volunteer Park Be-In in about 1969--that's where I first saw Jeff perform--he sang a strong version of "Crossroads" and played a German-made Framis electric bass.)
* Easy Chair was discovered by Zappa as winner of a Seattle Battle of the Bands at The Moore Egyptian Theater. The prize was a recording contract with Straight/Bizarre Records. When Easy Chair broke up (by the time their band got to L.A, there was only Jeff and Burke Wallace left), Zappa produced Jeff as a solo artist & then installed him as bassist with the Mothers.
* Missing from Jeff's discography is a track from a Geoff &
Maria Muldaur album, "Sweet Potatoes" on Reprise/Warner Records MS 2073 in 1972.
The cut is titled "I'm Rich" and Jeff played bass under an alias: Junior
Turlock, namesake of the obscure town of Turlock in California where Medic Alert
bracelets are made. Also on the LP are Billy Mundi (former drummer for The
Mothers) Amos Garrett on guitar and Paul Butterfield and members of his horn
section, Gene Dinwiddie (later of the band Full Moon) and Trevor Lawrence on
saxes. Btw, I have both the Muldaur recording as well as the Stepson release on
* Jeff was a founding member of the Seattle band, "Rich Dangel and the Reputations", a 7-piece R&B, soul, rock band that existed from 1980 until around 1988. Rich, a founding member of The Fabulous Wailers in 1959 (Golden Crest Records, Valet Records), as well as The Floating Bridge (Vault Records) and I formed The Reps to be a band of very serious players offering an alternative to the tired old covers all the other local bands were playing. Jeff, as a great music historian, provided a wealth of classic A & B-side material, as well as being a triple threat on Fender Rhodes piano/clavinet, harmonica and as a singer. He also provided plenty of onstage hijinks as Lil' Bobby Sumpner, Darvon Willis or the legendary Urban Turban. In 1981, we were backing up Buddy Miles at some Seattle nightspots. When Buddy got arrested one night in between sets for assault with a deadly weapon (yes, drugs were involved), Jeff decided he had seen enough and quit the band. He, however, remains my friend to this day and although I've lived in L.A. for the past 19 years, we speak often on the phone & I'm looking forward to hearing his new CD.
I'm grateful to Jeff for teaching me a great deal of what I know about music, as well as introducing me to other fine players who have also taught me much over the years. He's a great teacher and a great friend.
Here's a link to a page on The Reputations from my website:
-- Tim Scott