Joe Simon was born in Simmesport, Louisiana in 1943. His family moved to California in the late 50s, when he joined gospel group The Golden West Gospel Singers, with whom he subsequently moved into secular music in 1959. In the early 60s he attemped to find success as a solo artist, his first break coming on the Vee-Jay label, when he scored a #13 R&B hit in 1965 with "Let's Do It Over" (recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, and written by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham). However he was left without a label again when Vee-Jay folded the same year.
He was then discovered by Nashville radio DJ John Richbourg, who signed him to the Sound Stage 7 label and became both his manager and producer. He quickly scored another hit, "Teenager's Prayer" getting to #11 on the R&B chart. His debut album came out in 1966 - Pure Soul introduced him as one of the great singers of southern soul. Being produced in Nashville, some interesting country music influences crept in with the strings and backing vocals. Simon would soon become known for his blending of soul and country music. The album also included covers of Dee Clark's "Nobody But You" and Percy Sledge's "When A Man Loves A Woman", and it generated another hit with "My Special Prayer" the next year (#17 R&B).
|> No Sad Songs (1968)
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