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Sylvie Simmons

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Biography

A respected veteran rock journalist, Sylvie Simmons had been writing about music for nearly four decades when she finally stepped forward as a performer. Simmons was born and raised in London, and was fascinated with music from early childhood. She learned to play a secondhand guitar, but an attempt to perform at a school function led to a painful case of stage fright, and Simmons channeled her interests into writing about music, while she only played and sang at home. In her teens, Simmons began writing for music magazines in the U.K., but grew frustrated with her assignments, as she was often hired to write about lightweight, teen-oriented pop acts rather than the more aggressive and challenging bands she preferred. In 1977, Simmons left London and relocated to Los Angeles, California. The move proved to be a boon to her career, and she soon landed a regular gig with the British weekly Sounds, becoming their American correspondent and penning a regular column. In addition to covering many of the major rock and pop acts of the day, Simmons was on hand for the birth of the L.A. glam metal explosion, and was among the first to write major stories on Mötley Crüe and Guns 'N Roses. Simmons was also recruited as a regular contributor to the U.K. metal magazine Kerrang; so as not to compete with herself, she assumed an alter ego for the magazine, using the name Laura Canyon. Simmons was also a frequent contributor to maverick American rock magazine Creem, and wrote a syndicated column for the Knight-Ridder news service. In time, Simmons would be published in nearly every major music magazine, including Rolling Stone, Mojo, Harp, and Blender. Simmons published her first book in 1995, a biography of Mötley Crüe titled Mötley Crüe: Lewd, Crude, and Rude; she would later publish a collection of short stories, Too Weird for Ziggy, as well as biographies of Neil Young and Serge Gainsbourg, and win critical acclaim for 2012's I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen. While touring to promote I'm Your Man, Simmons brought along a ukulele, and would perform a few of Cohen's songs as she discussed her book and her subject's songwriting. The tour eased Simmons' shyness about singing for an audience, and she began sharing songs she'd written with Howe Gelb, best known as the leader of the idiosyncratic Americana group Giant Sand. Gelb encouraged Simmons to continue writing, and in 2013 she joined him at Wavelab Studios in Tucson, Arizona for a series of recording sessions. The result was Simmons' first album, Sylvie, which was released by Light in the Attic Records in November 2014.

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Born:

London, England

Category
Years Active:

'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s