11:15am / April, 9th 2017View Map
John ‘Kid’ Simmons was born September 13, 1943 in London England. During the late 1950’s, most jazz bands that played in the New Orleans style emulated the sound of the George Lewis Ragtime Band from New Orleans. The majority of the clarinet players copied George Lewis, Trombone players copied Jim Robinson and trumpet players copied Avery ‘Kid’ Howard, the rhythm section from the George Lewis Band was also copied to the same extent. John ‘Kid’ Simmons was one of the few non ‘Kid’ Howard players preferring to base his style on that of George ‘Kid Sheik’ Cola, also from New Orleans, whom he met in London in 1963.
John first visited New Orleans in 1964. He soon became friends with Harold ‘Duke’ Dejan and George ‘Kid Sheik’ Cola and already established as a trumpet player in England took further lessons from Ernest ‘Punch” Miller. He returned in 1966 and stayed for six months joining Dejan’s Olympia Brass Band There was plenty of work in the brass band field. John can recall many jam sessions and parties he played in New Orleans in the 1960’s, mostly at Preservation Hall. One in particular he remembers playing with Harold Dejan (Alto Sax), Kid Sheik (Piano), Punch Miller (Drums) and others that included Emanuel Sayles, ‘Kid’ Thomas Valentine, Sylvester Handy and Earl Humphrey. He also came back in 1969. Finally in 1970, he made New Orleans his home and eventually married Doratha ‘Dodie’ Smith, who was active and well known on the local jazz scene. ‘Kid’ Sheik was the best man.
In 1973, John became a member of the Young Tuxedo Brass Band, led at the time by Herman Sherman. He was part of the trumpet section that at various times over the years included Jack Willis, Teddy Riley, Reginald Koeller and Gregg Stafford. Playing in the Young Tuxedo took John all over the United States and into Europe which included; Germany, Spain, The Canary Islands and the Glasgow Jazz Festival in Scotland. He also recorded with the Tuxedo for 504 Records in 1983.
During 1986/87, he ran a well received traditional jazz radio program on WWOZ 90.7 FM, playing records from the 1940’s revival period which were seldom heard at that time. John spent two years leading one of Andrew Hall’s Society Jazz Bands on the riverboat’s Cajun Queen and Creole Queen. Personnel’s varied nightly and he can recall good times spent with Pete Savory, Peter ‘Chuck’ Badie, Sullivan Dabney and John L. Jones, Jr. John also played with the Donald Minor Trio that included hotel gigs and private parties. Donald is the son of Fred ‘Achie’ Minor, who was most active in New Orleans in the 1960’s. For over ten years, he has had a small band at the annual French Quarter festival held during the month of April and also at the French Market Sunday afternoon gigs. His bands have included Mari Watanabe, Frank Oxley, Peter Savory, Clifford Brown and James Carter. John has also played as leader at Preservation Hall and for a while at the Maison Bourbon.
For many years, John has led the International All Stars, which appears regularly at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. This band has included over the years; Wendell Eugene, McNeil Breaux, Frank Fields, Frank Oxley, Lester Caliste, Daniel Farrow, Richard Payne and Don Vappie. He also played with bands led by Milford Dolliole and Father Al Lewis at Jazz Fest. ‘Kid’ Simmons is still playing at Jazz Festival, French Quarter Festival and other local venues.