Chuck Simmons

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New Orleans funk singer Chuck Simmons was born in the Crescent City on April 12, 1938. As a teen he lived near Fats Domino, the inspiration behind his first stabs at writing and performing in collaboration…
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New Orleans funk singer Chuck Simmons was born in the Crescent City on April 12, 1938. As a teen he lived near Fats Domino, the inspiration behind his first stabs at writing and performing in collaboration with another neighborhood youth, Joe Broussard. In 1965 Simmons and Broussard auditioned for composer/producer Wardell Quezerque, who agreed to mentor the duo on their songwriting pursuits. In the meantime, Simmons formed the Royal Imperials with keyboardist Emerson Whitfield and guitarist Edward Robinson, making his recorded debut on the PJ label with "Do the Sissy." The record went nowhere and the band soon split, with Simmons resurfacing in 1967 on his own Broom label with the Quezerque-produced "Do the Funky Broom," backed by Meters founders Art Neville and Leo Nocentelli.

When Quezerque landed a production deal with the Malaco label, he recruited Simmons, Broussard, Michael Adams, Ronald Waldon, and son George to form the Unemployed, essentially a Malaco house band specializing in the emerging funk sound -- the Unemployed also headlined three singles for Cotillion in 1970, but ego clashes forced the group to dissolve soon after, and Simmons resumed his solo career, additionally working as an auto mechanic to make ends meet. (Once, after repairing the car of a fledgling singer named Jean Knight, he introduced her to Quezerque, resulting in the massive hit "Mr. Big Stuff," co-written by Broussard.)

In 1972 Simmons recorded enough material for a Quezerque-produced LP, but Malaco rejected the finished master and a disappointed Simmons revived the Broom imprint to release his 1973 masterpiece, "Hustler's Strut," followed a year later by a retooled version dubbed "Lay It On Me" that proved a local hit when issued on the Move label. Move also issued 1976's "Am I Grooving You," his final single for some years -- just as 1982's "No One Can Love You Like Me" was shaping up as a hit, Simmons ran afoul of an unscrupulous promoter who bilked him out of his earnings on the record, hastening his final exit from the music industry. In 2003 the Funky Delicacies label issued Hustler's Strut, compiling 16 of Simmons' finest efforts from his 1965-1978 heyday.