Kim Maiden Simmonds (5 December 1947 – 13 December 2022) was a British musician. He was the founder, guitarist, primary songwriter and only consistent member of the blues rock band Savoy Brown. Simmonds led Savoy Brown since its inception in 1965 to its peak and multi-sales. He performed and appeared on every album the band recorded.
When still a young teenager, Simmonds learned to play from listening to his brother’s blues records. Considered one of the architects of British blues, he started the Savoy Brown Blues Band in October 1965, who began playing gigs at the Nags Head in 1966 in London. Early gigs included performing with Cream at Klooks Kleek and accompanying John Lee Hooker.
Live performances led to Savoy Brown signing with Decca. But it was 1969 before its classic line-up gelled around Simmonds, rhythm guitarist Lonesome Dave Peverett, and the monocle and bowler hat-wearing vocalist Chris Youlden. That year’s Blue Matter and A Step Further albums conjured up at least three classics heard on The Best of Savoy Brown (20th Century Masters/The Millennium Collection): “Train To Nowhere”, the live show-stopper “Louisiana Blues” (a Muddy Waters number), and “I’m Tired”.
Since its first US visit, Savoy Brown has criss-crossed the country, and “I’m Tired” became the group’s first hit single across the ocean. The band would find a greater following in America than in its native England throughout its career.
1970’s Raw Sienna followed, featuring “A Hard Way To Go” and “Stay While The Night Is Still Young”. When Youlden then departed for a solo career, Lonesome Dave took over the lead vocals. Looking In, also in 1970, featured not only “Poor Girl” and “Money Can’t Save Your Soul” but one of the era’s memorable LP covers, a troglodyte-like savage staring into an eye socket of a monstrous skull. Later, Peverett, bassist Tony Stevens and drummer Roger Earl left to form the successful but decidedly rock band Foghat. Simmonds soldiered on, recruiting from blues band Chicken Shack keyboardist Paul Raymond, bassist Andy Silvester and drummer Dave Bidwell, and from the Birmingham club circuit the vocalist Dave Walker.
The new line-up was a hit. On stage in America, the group was supported by Rod Stewart and the Faces. On the album Street Corner Talking (1971) and Hellbound Train (1972) launched favourites “Tell Mama”, “Street Corner Talking”, a cover of the Temptations’ Motown standard “I Can’t Get Next To You” and the nine-minute epic “Hellbound Train” (decades later Love and Rockets (band) adapted it as “Bound For Hell”). Walker then quit to join Fleetwood Mac, pre-Buckingham/Nicks.
In 1997, Simmonds released his first solo acoustic album, entitled Solitaire. He toured worldwide with various configurations of Savoy Brown. The 2004 live set You Should Have Been There, recorded in early 2003 in Vancouver with Simmonds handling lead vocals – and also as a solo acoustic act. In 2011 he celebrated 45 years of touring with the Savoy Brown album Voodoo Moon.
In 2017, his album with Savoy Brown, Witchy Feeling, reached number one on the Billboard blues charts.
As a soloist and leader of Savoy Brown, Simmonds released over 47 albums through 2016. He was also a painter; the cover of his 2008 solo release, Out of the Blue, featured his original art. In 2008, Simmonds appeared in the Rockumentary “American Music: OFF THE RECORD”, Dir. by Benjamin Meade of Cosmic Cowboy Studio in Fayetteville, Arkansas, alongside Jackson Browne, Noam Chomsky, Douglas Rushkoff, Les Paul, Johnny and Edgar Winter and countless other musicians and musical acts.
On 15 August 2022, Simmonds announced via the Savoy Brown website that he has been receiving chemotherapy for stage four colon cancer. Due to the side effects of his treatment, all scheduled live performances have been cancelled. On 15 December 2022, it was stated via the Savoy Brown fanpage that Simmonds lost his battle with cancer on 13 December. (wikipedia)
Just in time for the band’s 50th anniversary, “The Devil To Pay” is released. Since Savoy Brown released their first record in 1967 and became one of the most established blues-rock bands, 26 studio albums have been released. Masterpieces like “Blue Matter”, “Raw Sienna” or “Hellbound Train” were among them. Now “The Devil To Pay” (Ruf/in-akustik), the latest album by bandleader Kim Simmonds and his band, is released.
“Normally recordings only take two to three days for me and most of it is already done on the first day, because all the preliminary work is done in the weeks before”, Simmonds describes his approach to recording an album: “But this time the whole thing dragged on for years. We kept making improvements between tours, but then went back into the studio briefly at the end. Then it’s just a matter of capturing that special moment and being there on the dot.” There are now 13 of those special moments on the new album.
From the intricate instrumental “Snakin”, to crashing power blues, to almost classic Chicago blues, the album offers everything that has defined Savoy Brown over five decades and still does. “As a teenager, the classic Chicago stuff and artists definitely influenced me. My heart still leaps for joy when I hear good Chicago blues,” Simmonds confesses. “I still have the same energy I had when I was young. That’s what keeps my dream alive,” the guitarist affirms. One might believe the Londoner, who has lived in the USA for decades, because since the band has been on the Ruf label, they have been recording consistently good albums. Including the live albums, that makes 45 with “The Devil To Pay”. Respect! (press release)
Perhaps there will be another special album to mark Savoy Brown’s fiftieth anniversary. Until then, “The Devil To Pay” is dedicated to the anniversary in 2015. RockTimes congratulates warmly.
Thirteen new songs make up a total playing time of almost an hour and together with bassist Pat DeSalvo as well as Garnet Grimm on drums, trio leader Kim Simmonds takes a damn brave approach, at least as far as the disc’s opener is concerned. Brave because “Ain’t Got Nobody” is far from a warm-up song. A positive mood is created in an almost ballad-like way. The song is characterised by bluesy fervour, strong expression and a certain lasciviousness in Kim Simmonds’ voice. Even the first track on the record is a classic blues listen.
Completely devoid of vocals, the number “Snakin'” sneaks under your skin with a friendly story told by the guitar and the groovy rhythm gets your foot tapping. This kind of Chicago-12 beat is always a pleasure to listen to.
Even if “The Devil To Pay” is thematically about “[…]wrong decisions in the past […]”, the musical atmosphere turns out positively. Kim Simmonds is an expert on the six strings of his instrument. Without a doubt, he came up with great songwriting ideas for this album.
The range is also enormous. The protagonist writes in his digipak lyrics, among other things: “It’s all blues, but I think you’ll find variety; traditional blues, rock blues, swing and jazz blues.” This is how the artist, born in Newbridge, Wales, sums it up. With his fantasies linked in the solos, the Savoy Brown veteran is way out in front.
Bassist Pat DeSalvo is not only the accompanying low-frequency plucker. He presents himself with an extremely melodious-flowing play and together with Garnet Grimm gives the songs even more pressure.
Here and there the frontman uses his harp. It is very useful in its delivery and brings an earthy blues mood to light in the right phases. The Brit serves us the twelve-bar in combination with light jazz influences, for example, in “Stop Throwing Your Love Around” and especially in “Whiskey Headed Baby”. Both songs prove to be quite fine things.
In between these numbers, you can also enjoy a slide boogie à la Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown and think back to the old days of “Savoy Brown Boogie”. With a little dash of rock’n’roll in the tank, the track goes down really well. “Watch My Woman” has a nice swing note in the rhythm.
If the opening track already provided a decelerated surprise, one naturally wonders how this album might end. The song title “Evil Eye” sounds like something really evil. The piece has killer qualities, especially when it gets really furious towards the end. The beginning and the end of “The Devil To Pay” are two contrasts that come together in the great playing of Kim Simmonds. This album is a confirmation that this band is full of energy even after fifty years. (Joachim ‘Joe’ Brookes; Rock Times)
Garnet Grimm (drums)
Pat DeSalvo (bass)
Kim Simmonds (guitar, slide-guitar, vocals, harmonica)
01. Ain’t Got Nobody 5.29
02. Bad Weather Brewing 4.32
03. Grew Up In The Blues 4.08
04. When Love Goes Wrong 4.05
05. Oh Rosa 3.37
06. The Devil To Pay 4.22
07. Stop Throwing Your Love Around 4.18
08. Snakin’ 3.57
09. Got An Awful Feeling 6.00
10. I’ve Been Drinking 3.50
11. Watch My Woman 4.06
12. Whiskey Headed Baby 4.31
13. Evil Eye 5.11
All songs written by Kim Simmonds
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