Simon is a multiple-threat artist – a music producer, composer, writer and performing artist in pop, rock, television, movies and on Broadway. Simon was responsible such blockbuster projects as The Band’s “Music from Big Pink”, their eponymous follow-up album and “The Last Waltz,”, “Cheap Thrills” by Big Brother & the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin, “Bookends” by Simon & Garfunkel, and “The Child Is Father to the Man” by Blood, Sweat & Tears. He also shepherded “Songs of Leonard Cohen” through the studio for Columbia Records.
In a rare West Coast appearance, Simon is set to perform, tells stories and answer questions at the Sweetwater Music Hall on Thursday, April 18.
Simon was born in 1941 in Norwalk, Conn., the son of a country doctor who played the violin in his spare time. He began learning the violin and the piano while still a child, and was writing songs before he was 10 years old. In his early twenties, he joined Columbia Record as a junior producer, and was at first assigned to assist on various projects like “Point of Order,” an LP depicting the notorious hearings conducted by Senator Joseph McCarthy and “Of Course, of Course” by the Charles Lloyd Quartet.
In 1970, Simon cut his debut LP, titled “John Simon’s Album,” which drew on influences from psychedelia to Tin Pan Alley, and in 1971, Simon appeared as a session musician on albums by Taj Mahal, Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, and Howlin’ Wolf. During the 1970s, he worked with such diverse acts as John Martyn, Gil Evans, David Sanborn, Martin Mull, John Hartford, Michael Franks, Steve Forbert, Hirth Martinez, Christine Lavin, John Sebastian, Cyrus Faryar and Al Kooper.
Simon remained busy across wide array of projects, including composing circus music for high wire artist Phillipe Petit (“Man on Wire“) and ballet scores for choreographer Twyla Tharp, as well as a cast album for “The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas” (1978), and was the musical supervisor of the abortive Broadway rock & roll revue, “Rock & Roll! The First 5,000 Years” in the 1980s.
Simon remains an active musician and producer today, and he’s has performed at, among others, The Bottom Line, Fez, Joe’s Pub and The Blue Note in NYC and done four tours in Japan, including The Blue Note in Tokyo. Aside from his recording career, he has collaborated with his wife, C.C. Loveheart, in cabaret appearances and in the writing of a play, “Jackass Flats,” which had its Actors Equity, professional premiere in the summer of 2011.
Simon has also lectured at both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and The Montreal Pop Festival. In April of 2012, he delivered a talk with the addition of both visual and musical aids titled “My Life In Rock And Roll” or “Rock and Roll: It’s Origins and Consequences.”