Lee Baby Simms, KRLA/KMET/KROQ Veteran from the 70s, Dies
(January 30, 2015) Lee “Baby” Simms. a veteran of Los Angeles radio, has died. Claude Hall, former editor of Billboard Magazine’s “Vox Jox” section, reported the following:
"One of my best friends died yesterday (January 27). This is all speculation so far, but it appears as if Lee Baby Simms got up yesterday morning, walked out onto his back porch where he grew tomatoes, and shot himself in the stomach, according to his daughter Kim Simms. He was 72 and recovering from cancer. "
Born Gilmore LaMar Simms in 1944, in Charleston, South Carolina, Lee dropped out of high school at 16, thinking he could learn more about life by experiencing life. He began jocking at WTMA as “Hot Toddio on the Radio.”
One of his early mentors was George Wilson. “George saved my life. George was my great inspirational guide. George taught me how to get people to listen to me; he taught me how to relate to them, and he taught me entertainment in radio,” said Lee.
He got his nickname “Baby” from Woody Roberts, pd of WONO-San Antonio. “I was a kid and they were kids and we got off together.” In the 1960s he wrote Time for the Pozo Seco Singers. The label reads “Mouse Merchant” which was the name of his cat.
In 1965 he worked in Phoenix and traveled with the Beatles to Las Vegas. Lee worked at WPOP-Hartford from 1966 to 1968, followed by stops in San Diego and San Antonio before returning to San Diego. He jocked at KCBQ-San Diego before arriving in the L.A. market. He first worked as Lee Simms, then later with the nom de plume Matthew “Doc” Frail.
His first night on KRLA was the day of the 1971 San Fernando earthquake. Lee discussed how he was always preparing his next show. “I think about my show all the time, every waking moment. If anything happens that I think is interesting, or relatable, I’ll tell it. If I think of some line, I’ll write it down so I won’t forget it. Good jocks are those that do good, unexpected things.”
In 1973, KRLA went MOR, and Lee was teamed with Johnny Hayes in morning drive. He also made brief stops at KROQ and KTNQ (Ten-Q), the latter for two nights. In the early 1980s he was working at KFOG-San Francisco and KDUF-Honolulu. In 1985 Lee joined the morning team at WLVE-Miami. In 1992, Simms landed at KYA-San Francisco, but by 1994 he relocated to KOOL in Phoenix. While at KOOL, Lee had the #1 show in just 90 days. In 1997, Lee was contacted by Steve Rivers. pd at San Francisco’s KISQ, prompting Simms to return to the Bay Area. His KISQ radio show was also heard via syndication on WUBT-Chicago.
Simms, by his own recollection, worked at 35 stations in 22 markets and was fired 25 times because he “never accepted an insult from anyone.” While at WPOP in 1966-67, Simms would often break format and go on lengthy tirades to complain about long hair, sloppily-dressed teenagers, rude people and other annoyances. He told an interviewer from the Hartford Courant. “I don’t like anything, including Hartford.”
Simms was outraged in 1986 upon the release of an Indie film, Down by Law. Tom Waits played one of three men who were arrested and imprisoned and then plotted an escape. Waits' character, Zack, was a New Orleans disc jockey known as Lee “Baby” Simms. The real Simms threatened a lawsuit but Waits later explained that he used the name as a tribute and had no idea Simms was still in radio. Robert Wiesbuch, former president of Drew University, has written a book titled Hitbound chronicling the careers of Simms, Joey Reynolds, Woody Roberts and other radio personalities. The book has yet to be published.
Ken Levine. as part of his tribute to Lee at his blog. offered these final words: " Lee Baby Sims deserved more recognition. He deserved to be in whatever Halls of Fame the radio industry concocts. He was a true original and a shining example of how radio could be great. He elevated the medium to an art form. Pity he was never really appreciated in his time. RIP Lee Baby. You were the best. "
Blurred Story . With just two weeks to go before a scheduled trial over whether Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines is a copyright infringement of Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give It Up. the dispute has gone nuclear in the past 24 hours. U.S. District John Kronstadt abruptly changed his mind on a key issue and then denied an attempt to delay the trial for an appeal. On Wednesday, the judge said he made an error with his initial ruling, that the recording of Gaye’s legendary song was completely inadmissible at trial.
The trial pits Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams against the children of the late Motown legend. The Gaye family charges Thicke and Williams illegally copied protected elements of Got to Give It Up when the duo wrote their number one song. Since the recording wasn’t deposited with the Copyright Office in the 1970s, the dispute is whether Gaye’s copyrights were limited to elements presented in the sheet music composition.
In new papers, the Gaye family asserts the judge is misreading copyright law to the extent that it could have “drastic and devastating consequences for intellectual property” and “allow infringers to steal classic portions of the songs by Marvin Gaye, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, and every other iconic artist whose works were created before 1978.”
The full story appears in the current issue of The Hollywood Reporter.
LARadio Rewind : January 30, 2010. At a luncheon at Vitello’s Restaurant in Studio City, Art Laboe is honored by his peers with the LARadio Lifetime Achievement Award. (Presented by Don Barrett)
Born Arthur Egnoian in 1925 in Salt Lake City, he began his career at age 13 by assembling a ham radio and playing records for his local neighborhood. In 1943 he landed a one-hour late-night show at KSAN-San Francisco and changed his name to Laboe after the station’s secretary. He worked in radio in Palm Springs and Reno and was briefly at KRKD. He joined KXLA in 1949, then worked at KGFJ, KFWB and KPOP in the 1950s.
For ten years, Laboe broadcast from Scrivener’s Drive-In at Sunset and Cahuenga. Because so many fans requested oldies, Laboe coined the term “Oldies But Goodies” and launched Original Sound Records, which has released 15 Oldies But Goodies compilation albums.
From 1955 to 1961, Laboe staged dances at El Monte Legion Stadium. Since 1960 he has worked at KRLA, KDAY, KPPC, XEPRS, KRLA, KRTH, KFI and KCMG/KHHT. Laboe hosts two syndicated programs, Art Laboe Connection and Sunday Special.
He received a
star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame in 1981 and was inducted into the Radio Hall Of Fame in 2012. Laboe’s favorite song: Since I Don't Have You by the Skyliners. (LARadio Rewind is meticulously prepared by Steve Thompson)
Musical Chairs . Just as Cumulus, owners of KABC, signed Mark Levin to a 5-year extension, KABC announces they are dropping Levin from their lineup. KRLA (AM 870 / The Answer), picked up Levin and will broadcast his show in afternoon drive. Hugh Hewitt. previously in afternoons moves to a 6 p.m. start. Meanwhile, Dennis Miller is dropped from KRLA to make room for Levin.
Yet Miller will continue to be heard locally, as he now moves to late-night at KABC (10 p.m. to 1 a.m.), followed by Red-Eye Radio from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Peter Tilden will slide down to 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
“This move consolidates and strengthens our live and local lineup,” according to a station spokesperson. “Our station now has well known, compelling Southern California personalities from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and a bona fide Hollywood personality in Miller for late nights. The Talkradio 790 KABC lineup is crafted to be entertaining, relevant, compelling and uniquely Southern California.”
These changes take effect next week.
Hear Ache . KFI/KEIB’s David Cruz is on a leave of absence … Sad that songwriter/poet Rod McKuen has died. He was 81 … Marc Germain (formerly Mr. KABC / Mr. KFI and nationally syndicated weekend host of Red Eye Radio) is bringing his unique brand of Talk Radio to KXNT FM/AM-Las Vegas all next week from 6-9 p.m. We can listen live at: http://lasvegas.cbslocal.com/. Germain has made his home in Las Vegas for the past five years and has been hosting a nightly live show and podcast from his TalkRadioOne.com base.
Funnie . (thanks to Timmy Manocheo)
We GET Email …
** Shocking Simms News
“It’s quite shocking. I haven’t been in touch with Lee Simms since I worked with him in the 70s but I always admired his exceptional creativity and wit. I’m so sorry to hear it and my heart goes out to his family and friends.” – Shadoe Stevens
** Lee Simms Made U p
“ Lee Simms was at KCBQ when I arrived at KGB in San Diego. He was working evenings. One night, I was fascinated by a rather lengthy story he was sharing about a James Taylor song he was about to play. It seems that James had been in a mental institution and met a woman there who became a close friend and inspiration. If I recall correctly, Lee went on to share that the magnetic woman died and many other details about their friendship. It was the inspiration for the song.
As the tale went on, it was pretty impossible to tune out. The fable ended with the James Taylor song Lee was talking about.
Sometime later, I was talking with Lee on the phone and asked him how he collected all these great stories and mentioned the James Taylor piece in particular. He paused and said, ‘Oh, I just made that up. But it was a pretty good story, wasn’t it!’
He made it all up! Lee Simms…unique and unrepeatable.” – Charlie Van Dyke
** Plum Sad Over Simms’ Death
“The saddest news EVER! Lee Baby was so nice to me and so kind. He and his lady took me out to eat in Honolulu on my first trip there in 1977 and I first met him when he was considering a gig at TEN-Q.
I will never forget his wacky sense of humor. I am really bummed.” – Nancy Plum
** iHeart Missing at PPB
“At the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters luncheon last week that honored Rick Dees. there were about 300 attendees. The speakers that honored Rick were terrific and spoke of his tremendous talent and huge impact on Los Angeles Radio and also station KIIS.
However, it was interesting and a sign of the times that other than Mark Wallengren who is a member of PPB, there was no one there from Clear Channel. I was surprised and dismayed that iHeart (Clear Channel) did not buy a table or two. It was Rick’s morning show many years ago that drove the ratings at that time for KIIS and made the station a dominant force in Los Angeles and helped to increase revenues for the entire market [a rising tide lifts all ships]. The local management and others at KIIS should have been at the luncheon – at least that is what I believe. There was a time in Los Angeles when radio people bonded and became friends and were supportive of one another. Apparently and sadly, that time has long passed.” – Bob Fox
“Good story. Thanks. In fact your comments regarding the changes are more than accurate. How many students run or on the air at KPPC, KCRW and KUSC? The focus of those stations in recent years has been on providing the community with alternative but needed programming. Classical and Jazz are two music formats that more than fill this bill.” – Chuck Southcott
** Fritz the Comedian
"Thanks Don for link to Fritz Coleman ’s stand up. He is very funny, and he was so at the PPB luncheon.
It was great to see Harvey Kern ’s comments on KNJO/fm 92.7. I worked there late 70s with Alan Fischler, too. The only time I saw him get upset is when our pd allowed us to play a Rita Coolidge L.P. He did put the dots on it, but I guessed he missed one cut. Alan stormed the studio, I was on the air at the time, brought in the pd and yelled at him. I ended up getting the L.P.” – John Newton
** Vegas Radio
“I agree with Bob Morgan about Las Vegas Radio. My wife and I were just there this last week. The only one station that was tolerable was Old School 105.7. Vegas tv news is the worst. I was watching the News on CBS Channel 8 and the female anchor was wearing some outfit that would make sense if she were in Wisconsin or Chicago. She kept tripping on her words. I couldn’t wait to get home to Palm Springs and watch CBS Local 2 where they have two top notch anchors Kris Long and Brooke Beare.” – Dale Berg. 969theoasis.org
** Blurred Lines
“Wow, what a sad Marvin Gaye story of a composition that we loved so much. One of the greatest songs of all time! I outta know. I’m so blessed to have been in this industry for some of the most memorable moments of all of radio and the record business.
Maybe I will write a book myself.” – Chrissy Hamilton
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