R&B singer supreme Joe Simon dies


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He was one of the most unique voices of soul music in the 1960s and 70s and later became a minister and Gospel singer. But whatever he sang, there was no mistaking the rich baritone voice of the great Joe Simon. Today we sadly say goodbye to this all-timer who has died. Bishop Simon's age is cited in several spots as 78 and in others as 85.

The Simmesport, Louisiana born Simon began singing in the church after his family moved to the Bay Area of California, and it was there that he made the transition to become one of the great soul music artists of his time.

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Beginning with his release of “Teenager’s Prayer” when he was just 23, Simon recorded a string of R&B hits, many of which crossed over to the pop charts. 1969’s “The Chokin’ Kind” became an across-the-board smash and won for Simon a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Performance.

As the 70s emerged, Simon teamed with up and coming songwriters/producers Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff (who would go on to form the iconic Philadelphia International Records) and landed back to back smashes in 1972 with the #1 “Drowning In the Sea of Love” and “Power of Love” (which was sampled in OutKast’s “So Fresh, So Clean”). And after a series of powerful ballads and midtempo songs, Simon took the tempo up and hit #1 again with the pre-disco dance smash “Get Down, Get Down” in 1975.

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By the 1980s, Simon began devoting his life and his music to his faith, and he became a minister and Gospel singer. He formed Bishop Joe Simon Ministries, which provided humanitarian services -- particularly education, transportation and support for underserved youth. From a musical standpoint, Bishop Simon released the albums Lay My Burden Down  in 1983 and This Story Must Be Told in the late 90s. More recently, he issued the nice single “Lord They Said I Wasn’t Gonna Be Nothin” in 2016, the same year he released a documentary on his life.

For many R&B fans, Joe Simon is a name that will always be associated with the Golden Age of Soul Music, and he certainly was that. There were few artists who possessed that kind of instantly recognizable powerful voice, and his music and his decades of work of ministry will be remembered long after today’s unhappy news. Simon is survived by his wife Melinee Simon, his sisters and a brother, his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Rest in peace, Bishop Joe Simon.

Notable quote

“I went from the cotton field to the chicken coop to a superstar of rhythm and blues — you can’t tell me I ain’t gonna be nothin’.”
—from the 2016 documentary “Looking Back with Joe Simon”

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