Born in 1916 in Winter, Texas, Mike Simpson started with clarinet at age 12 and moved on to horns. Following high school bands (1932), Simpson joined the bands of Doc Ross, Chief Gonzales, Harry Diekman, and Art Kassel. He then studied in Chicago and New York, and in 1939 he joined Gene Krupa in Baltimore briefly until a falling out. He then went back to Chicago to study music.
Simpson joined Jimmy McPartland and Jack Teagarden as well as performed at the Chicago Theater. At the end of service in the Navy Air Corps service during World War II, he married singer Nova Coggan, with whom he had a son and two daughters. Giving up a brief attempt to farm in Indiana around 1950, he worked on Broadway musicals and arranged and played for Ralph Marterie.
Simpson spent the years 1952-1960 with CBS in Chicago performing live music on AM radio and heading a jazz combo on a short-lived TV show called Jazz in the Round. He also recorded many advertising spots.