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Jeff Simmons

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The longtime bassist for Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, Jeff Simmons also issued a rare solo LP for Zappa's Straight imprint, the 1970 cult classic Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up. Born and raised in Seattle, Simmons first earned local notoriety as the singer/guitarist for Indian Puddin' & Pipe, a popular Pacific Northwest psychedelic band that in 1967 signed with producer Matthew Katz's San Francisco Sound label. Katz -- the infamously unscrupulous manager of Moby Grape, It's a Beautiful Day, and other luminaries of the San Francisco psych scene -- structured his contracts so that different lineups could appear under a given group's name anytime and anywhere he desired, and he ultimately bestowed the Indian Puddin' & Pipe moniker on a rival Seattle act previously known as the West Coast Natural Gas. Left without legal recourse, Simmons and his bandmates (guitarist Peter Larson, bassist Phil Kirby, and drummer Albert Malosky) returned to Seattle and rechristened themselves Easy Chair, issuing their one-sided, self-titled debut LP on the Vanco label in 1968. After another name change, this time to Ethiopia, the group opened for the Mothers of Invention in Seattle and later appeared alongside Wild Man Fischer, Alice Cooper, and the GTOs at Bizarre Records' legendary "Gala Pre-Xmas Bash" at Santa Monica's Shrine Exhibition Hall in early December of 1968. Zappa soon after convinced Ethiopia to relocate to Los Angeles, pairing the group with producers Jerry Yester and Val Zanofsky. When nothing concrete emerged from the sessions, the group dissolved but Zappa quickly offered Simmons his own two-record deal with Straight. The first, a largely instrumental soundtrack to an obscure biker film titled Naked Angels, features a series of acid-fuzz guitar jams. It was immediately followed by Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up, a more conventionally song-oriented psychedelic opus produced by Zappa under the alias LaMarr Bruister. The album generated little attention outside of Zappa cultists, however, and Simmons was installed as bassist for the Mothers of Invention's late 1970 LP Chunga's Revenge. He left the group during production on Zappa's feature film project 200 Motels, but later returned to the fold for albums including Waka/Jawaka and Roxy & Elsewhere. By the 1980s Simmons returned to Seattle, fronting a series of local acts including the Backtrackers and Cocktails for Ladies. He also wrote an unpublished memoir, I Joined the Mothers of Invention...for the FBI, and in 2005 released Blue Universe, his first new solo material in 35 years. ~ Jason Ankeny

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Years Active:

'70s, '00s