Simon was born in Simmesport, Louisiana, United States. Similar to many other African-American artists from the era, Simon began singing in his father’s Baptist church. He pursued his vocal abilities full-time once the family moved to Richmond (near Oakland, California) in the late 1950s. There Simon joined the Golden West Gospel Singers and became influenced by Sam Cooke and Arthur Prysock. With this, the group decided to turn secular and recorded “Little Island Girl” as the Golden Tones in 1959.
Hush Records label owners Gary and Carla Thompson urged Simon to record on his own, and in 1964 Simon scored considerable success on the Vee-Jay label with “My Adorable One”. Simon scored again in 1965 on the Chicago based label with “Let’s Do It Over”, which landed a #13 spot on the US Billboard R&B chart. However, the Vee-Jay label folded soon after the latter song’s release and Simon found himself traveling across the country singing.
Simon caught the eye of Nashville, Tennessee, R&B disc jockey John Richbourg during this time, and Richbourg not only became Simon’s manager/record producer but also brought the singer to Monument Records’ subsidiary label Sound Stage 7 in 1966. That year Simon released “Teenager’s Prayer”, which peaked at #11 on Billboard’s R&B chart. Within the next two years, Simon released a string of hits: “(You Keep Me) Hanging On”, “The Chokin’ Kind” (Billboard Hot 100 #13), “Farther On Down The Road”, and “Yours Love”. “The Chokin’ Kind” was written by Harlan Howard, spent 12 weeks in the charts, and had sold one million copies by 16 June 1969. In addition, Simon was given a Grammy Award in 1970 for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
Under the encouragement of Richbourg, Simon moved to the Polydor distributed Spring Records label in 1970, which paired Simon with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. The team scored a #3 R&B hit in 1971 with “Drowning In The Sea of Love” and a #1 R&B hit in the summer of 1972 with “Power Of Love”. Both songs reached #11 on the Hot 100. “Drowning In The Sea of Love” sold over 1.5 million copies and the R.I.A.A. on 6 January 1972 gave a gold disc. “Power of Love”, written by Gamble, Huff and Simon was Simon’s third million seller, and the R.I.A.A. awarded gold disc status on 29 August 1972.
Simon continued to release R&B hits with “Pool Of Bad Luck”, “Trouble In My Home”, “Step By Step”, “I Need You, You Need Me”, “Music In My Bones”, “Carry Me”, and 1975’s “Get Down, Get Down (Get On The Floor)”, which gave Simon his third #1 R&B hit, and also a #8 Hot 100 hit. Simon’s success escalated with his writing/producing the theme tune for the film, Cleopatra Jones in 1973.
In the late 1970s/early 1980s, Simon decided to remove his tenor/bass-baritone voice from the secular music world and devote it and his life to Christianity. Simon began evangelist preaching in Flossmoor, Illinois. In 1983, he produced the album Lay My Burden Down for former Davis Sisters second lead Jackie Verdell. Simon released a gospel album titled This Story Must Be Told in the late 1990s.
In 1999 Simon was inducted as a Pioneer Award honoree by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. Joss Stone covered “The Chokin’ Kind” on her 2003 album, The Soul Sessions.
Simon has had a number of his songs sampled by other artists, including OutKast, who sampled “Before the Night is Over” in their hit “So Fresh, So Clean” and Lil’ Kim, who sampled Simon’s “It Be’s That Way Sometimes” in “Magic Stick”, featuring 50 Cent. Memphis Bleek sampled Simon’s “Trace Your Love” for his track “Alright” on the 2005 534 album.
Edited by midlifefanclub on 2 Sep 2013, 08:41
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