Savoy Brown co-founder and guitarist Kim Simmonds passed away at the age of 75. The band’s official social media pages today provided confirmation of the news.
They remarked, “Please take note that one of Kim’s last requests was to thank the Savoy Brown admirers. “Your assistance has been and will continue to be greatly appreciated.”
Simmonds revealed in August that he had been enduring a nearly a year-long battle with stage-four cancer. He had been identified as having signet-cell colon cancer, which makes up less than 1% of instances of the disease. Often, it is not caught in time to provide a chance of recovery.
Simmonds stated in a formal statement at the time that “I’ve been having chemotherapy and that has made it difficult for me to play gigs.” Peripheral neuropathy is one of the negative effects, and it has now killed the nerves in my fingers, hands, and feet.
Simmonds, who was born in Wales in 1947, started polishing his guitar talents as a teenager by listening to his brother’s blues songs. He frequently saw performances in London by artists such as Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, Freddie King, and even the Rolling Stones during one of their early tours. Simmonds told Blues Rock Review in 2020, “I knew as a kid, this is the future of guitar music and I wanted to be a part of it.”
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When Simmonds started the Savoy Brown Blues Band in 1965, he was 18 years old. The group’s founding members included harmonica player John O’Leary, singer Brice Portius, pianist Trevor Jeavons, bassist Ray Chappell, and drummer Leo Manning. The group soon began performing in London with groups like Cream and John Lee Hooker, helping to launch the current blues movement in England.
The line-up for Savoy Brown constantly varied. Keyboardist Paul Raymond, bassist Andy Silvester, and drummer Dave Bidwell were all at one point brought in from Chicken Shack, the band Christine McVie helped form before Fleetwood Mac. This group crossed the pond to the United States, where Rod Stewart and the Faces provided tour support.
The title track from Street Corner Talking from 1971 and a cover of the Temptations’ “I Can’t Get Next to You” were two of the album’s few marginally successful singles at this period. Hellbound Train, their follow-up album from 1972, peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard 200. Even though they didn’t achieve significant financial success, Savoy Brown became a staple of the British blues scene.
Over the ensuing decades, the lineup would keep changing, but Simmonds remained the one constant. In 1997, he issued Solitaire, an acoustic LP that served as his debut solo effort. Thereafter, he released four additional solo albums and hundreds of albums with Savoy Brown. Witchy Feeling, their 2017 album, peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard blues charts.
In 2020, Savoy Brown released two albums, Taking the Blues Back Home and Ain’t Done Yet. Then, in 2021, all Savoy Brown live performances were canceled as a result of Simmonds’ persistent health difficulties.
Later that year, he gave emerging artists the following advice: “Keep to a single look. Concentrate on a single look, “suggested Simmonds. “If you concentrate on just one musical genre, you’ll advance further and faster. Keep your uniqueness and don’t be scared to deviate from the norm. You will inevitably fit into your time and place in the world.”
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