Rockabilly's Jumpin' Gene Simmons Dead at 69
Thu, 31 Aug 2006 11:20:56
Jumpin' Gene Simmons passed away on Tuesday (August 29) at the age of 69, following a long illness. Simmons, not to be mistaken for the long-tongued Kiss bassist of the same name, was a rockabilly singer and songwriter best known for the novelty hit "Haunted House" and for co-writing Tim McGraw's first hit song, "Indian Outlaw."
Simmons once worked as an opening act for Elvis Presley, and he eventually signed with Sun Records, although his tenure there was brief and he never found the success of labelmates like Elvis and Johnny Cash. "I looked around and saw my buddies having hits, and I started to think that maybe this was just not meant to be for me," Simmons once said. "By '63, I was ready to hang it up."
Instead, he recorded what would become -- and remain -- the biggest commercial success of his career: 1964's "Haunted House," a novelty track that rose to #11 on Billboard's pop chart. His old-time rock and roll offered a stark contrast to the trendier bands of the British Invasion. Simmons would go on to write songs for a number of Nashville contemporaries, but it was a younger rising star -- McGraw -- who put him back in the spotlight with 1994's "Indian Outlaw" (co-written by Simmons and Tommy Barnes). More recently, Brian Setzer recorded a version of Simmons' "Peroxide Blonde in a Hopped Up Model Ford" for a rockabilly compilation honoring the legacy of Sun Records.
--The ARTISTdirect Staff