Colorradio.com - Fay Simmons
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Fay Simmons - Who is she? Where is she from? Why didn't more of Fay Simmons records make the charts? I don't have all the answers, and what has surfaced is at best, incomplete.. I am going to take what I do have and mold it into some probabilities and begin a page devoted to Fay Simmons. Here is what I think I know. She was probably from the Philadelphia area, as many of the record labels she recorded on were based in that area. I have seen at least one picture of the Apollo theatre that shows her on the marquee, so she must have performed there and likely other New York and Philadelphia area theatres and clubs. She had action on one record in the early 1960's on a New York radio station, and probably had local play in the Philadelphia area as well. Reading information from a blog of Jerry Blavat, he also remembers her. "And The Angels Sing" also must have been played locally, because many of her follow up records had influences from it. She recorded a bunch of records in her career which spanned about 12 years. Thanks to Virginia Johnson and Fred Bals for informing me of the following details. "Janet" Fay Simmons was born February 25, 1932 and passed away on May 17th, 2000 in Philadelphia. She used to come and practice her songs at Virginia's house starting around 1959. Fay's husband was Robert Geter who was short and thin in build. He was always seen at that time, with a Cango hat. They apparently married very young. Virginia describes Fay as a jolly person, always laughing, happy and cheerful, jovial, and a little plump. At that time, she lived in south Philadelphia around the 1200 block of Kater street. Robert Jefferson (Virginia's step-father) and Mom Carleen Jefferson wrote many of the songs for Fay. The late Robert Jefferson also played guitar. They tried to get interest in Fay's music and would go to different DJ's in the area for airplay, but not much ever happened. One local DJ, Kae "Jet Pilot" Williams tried to help, and has several writing credits on her records. The organ player MIGHT have been Lam Michell. The last name is actually credited on the Ruthie label release. Fay later remarried and passed away as Janet Fay Flowers. She had two daughters and a son they called Tuffie. A variation on the name may have been the inspiration for the last release by Fay Simmons that I know of, on the Tuffy label.
Faye Simmons cut her first two records just about the same time. Grand 111 "Whim Wham Whop" was released about September of 1954. A point of reference is the Cherokees Grand label issue of 110, issued in late August of 1954, even though cut in late 1953. Grand 111 had Doc Starkes and the Nite (Night) Riders doing the backup. The flip was Makin A Fast Get-A-Way with the same combination. This was a great up tempo two sider!
About the same time, Fay Simmons stepped into the Reco-Art Sound studios on Market Street in Philadelphia, and waxed "Tell Me What To Do" and the mambo influenced "Big Joe". It was released on Eddie Heller's Rainbow Records of New York in October of 1954, as record number 263. The reference point here is the Love Notes Rainbow record number 266 from October as well. This record fit in well with Rainbow's heavy slant towards Latin music. Shown above is one of the metal acetates that was used as a demo for the recording.
Jumping ahead two years, Fay Simmons next release was on Port records of New York. Port records had several reissues in their output, including some classic sides originally issued on Whirlin Disc and Joz. There were many originals, and at least two records that were pressed in the 78 (and 45) RPM format. Fay Simmons was one of those recordings, and shown above is the stock 78. "I Can See Through You" is the plug side, and "Hangin Around" is the rockin' flip. This one was reviewed in the trade papers, and both sides got three stars.
The 45 RPM issue of Fay Simmons' Port release is shown above. This is listed as a promo. Port was Blue and white as a regular stock copy, and the traditional black and white as a promo. The label was owned by Jerry Blaine.
From late 1959 or early 1960, this appears to be the first issue of "Ella Weaver" by Fay Simmons. Even though it shows as the "B" side, it appears to pre-date the Senca side. The plug side would then be "Come On Let's Stroll. This Sharp label is not the same one that is associated with Savoy, but a different outfit with origins unknown. Credit is given to Little Bennie and the Flames on both sides of the record.
If you look at the reference books, they show a couple of the Jordan label sides released before the Senca discs. However, when you get down to the picture of Secret Love on Jordan (a few pictures below), it associates it with Senca Records. That is why I am showing Senca 122 from 1960, and before Jordan. "And The Angels Sing" is an awesome record, and currently very popular in the clubs in Europe. It was also issued several times on different labels. "Please Tell Me I'm Yours" is parked on the flip side.
Following up with the next numbered Senca issue, the up tempo"Secret Love" is backed with the now familiar "Ella Weaver" on Senca 123. The year is still 1960. The white label promotional record is shown.
The usual blue label Senca stock 45 is pictured. Oddly, Senca and all later issues include Kae "Jet Pilot" Williams with writer credits, where the Sharp label did not mention him.
Back to Jordan, they issued the same pairing as with Senca, and with the same takes. "Secret Love" and "Ella Weaver" is on record number 122. You have to watch this pressing. It seems they had the records pressed at the same plant that did the discs for Ace, and specifically Jimmy Clanton's "Another Sleepless Night" and "I'm Gonna Try". Some of the Fay Simmons labels were pasted on the Clanton platter. Oops!
Back on the Senca label with the first pressing of "Forgive This Fool" as the "A" side, and an instrumental called "Shake It Up" on the flip. Both sides are credited to Simmons. This record is machine stamped.
An interesting light blue label Jordan, with the same pairings as the previous issue on Senca. There is no mention on either release, of either record company as in a few previous examples, so this was likely the later release. This record is also machine stamped.
A yellow label and yellow wax copy of the same pairing. Notice the Jordan lettering is slightly elongated and not as blocky. It is hand etched and likely the last release for 1960. Click the record labels for an enlarged view showing the yellow wax.
From this point out, the Jordan and Senca releases are different pairings. I am listing them as I think they could have been issued, though they all show issued in 1961. Jordan 124 has "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands" with "What's The Reason I'm Not Pleasing You". This was also sold in both black and yellow wax. Both issues are hand etched with the same numbers. Click the record labels for an enlarged view showing the yellow wax.
Last up on Jordan is "Bells" and "Where Is My Love". This is on an orange Jordan label, that went to the thick, thin, thin, thick line pattern. A common design used on many labels, including Fargo. Robert Jefferson's name certainly shows up a lot in the writers credits. This is an excellent two sided record.
Switching back to Senca, Fay Simmons had what appears to be her biggest Chart hit, "Everybody's Doin The Pony". This one hit some local charts on the eastern seaboard, including the number one slot on the up and coming "Soaring Seven Singles" for WABC in New York. These were records to watch, and it shared space with Elvis, Ral Donner and others. It disappeared shortly thereafter. "I Won't Stop Lovin You" was the "B" side. The chart and release was from April of 1961.
Last for Senca in 1961, "Lonely Girl" paired with "Don't Slam The Door On My Heart". The flip is a rocker, while the "A" side is a nice ballad. She could deliver any record tempo you can think of.
Fay Simmons had another go at the song "And The Angels Sing", this time for Nu Tone. It is the exact same cut as the rest of the previous issues, so the labels had to be related, or a licensing agreement should have been inked. No mention of it is listed on the label. "Lover Man" is on the flip. Recorded in 1960/61, based on the ZTSP 62582/67651. The label is from Trenton, New Jersey. Probably pressed in 1961.
Moving to 1962, a release on the Popside label was produced. "A Sinner Kissed An Angel" was a nice side that should have had more spins. The "B" side is "Just To Hold My Hand". The promotional version is up above.
The yellow colored stock Popside release is shown above. The information is identical to the promotional copy.
One of Fay Simmons' more interesting records was waxed on the Ruthie label. Ruthie was located on Walnut street in Philadelphia. "Entranced" backed with "Rain (In My Heart)" is shown as 1962. Michell on organ is listed on the label and can be heard prominently on both sides. A bit of a departure for Simmons. And who was "Michell On Organ?"
A record at first I didn't think was ever issued, it's the Vtone recording of "It's A Sin To Tell A Lie" backed with "Where Is My Love". Shown is the promotional release, this was Vtone's last record, before Buddy Caldwell started up the Palm label. My guess is that this was just released as a promo, and as the transition from Vtone to Palm took place, they had a very small run on this label back in late 1962.
The Philadelphia based Palm label was owned by Buddy Caldwell, whose given first name was "Venton". He took the V from that name and created the V-Tone label. "It's A Sin To Tell A Lie" backed with "Where Is My Love" was released in 1963, this time on Palm. This is a different version of "Where Is My Love" then the previous release on Jordan. Supposedly, the Palm issue was issued first, and then a V-Tone issue with the exact same sides was issued afterward. According to 1995 liner notes by Donn Fileti, all of the records on Palm came out in 1963 which blows that theory. The dead wax numbers on Palm have V237 crossed out, and Palm 300 written in. That indicates to me that the Vtone label had come first and that they used the same stampers and had to manually make the dead wax number change.
This is the yellow stock issue on the Palm label. The national distribution deal with Jamie/Guyden was retained, as I would expect. Ditto for the dead wax numbers. From my vantage point, this is one of those releases where the stock copy is much harder to find then the promotional version. In the last couple of years, I have seen around 25 promos for sale, and just one yellow stock issue.
Here is a nice version of Fay Simmons doing the classic Chuck Berry song "Rock And Roll Music". Released on the LT label, I don't know exactly when it was pressed. "Far Away" is on the flip.
The last release I show for Fay Simmons is on the Tuffy label which was likely released in either 1963 or 1964. "If This Is Goodbye" and, once again for the third time, "And The Angels Sing" was on the flip! It is the same take to my ears, as the rest of the releases.
Updates: Fay Simmons had at least 22 records recorded in her career, with some overlapping titles, and never did have a national hit. Too bad, because her voice is amazing and several of her records could have done well. She did play at the Apollo at least once, and as mentioned, did have some limited chart action with at least one record. If you have any documented information on Fay Simmons, including pictures,please let me know. Known discography is below.
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