Looking older than his age and with disguises he was able to sneak into night clubs to play, sometimes only allowed to come out of the dressing rooms when it was show time, because the other band members didn’t want to get busted for having such a young kid playing in their band.
In 1972 at nineteen years of age he was discovered for his vocal and percussion abilities by Benjamin Ashburn, who was managing at the time a Tuskegee College, Alabama, little known group called The Commodores featuring Lionel Richie. With The Commodores, Kenny was able to meet with such legendary superstars like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Motown Records Founder Barry Gordy just to name a few. By forming these relationships, this became an important step in creating Kenny’s style of performing, business and entertaining.
Simmons was a member of the backup band and after Lionel Richie’s departure from the group, he was promised an opportunity to move to the front and take on some lead vocals. But that opportunity was short lived, when drug addition got in the way of his career.
After his time with The Commodores ended, Simmons sought out and found sobriety and cleaned up his life. With the help of believing that God had a better plan for him.
Simmons was re-discovered by his soon to become lifetime friends Emil Innocenti and John Robie, two of the Godfathers and creators of Hip-Hop music in the world today (Planet Rock). Recording for them the dance hit “Body Mechanic” that was released on Atlantic Records; the song reached # 3 on the Billboard Dance Charts in 1982 and after being re-released in 1988, took the historical musical fame of reaching # 7 on the same charts six years after its original release.
After years of traveling and touring with different acts, Simmons retired from the road and found a new home in the State of New Jersey.
Producing and writing commercials took over Kenny’s career for almost a decade until he was called back to perform by Bobby Wells and his then little known band The Infernos. Simmons and Wells plotted out a business plan and executed it, becoming not only close friends but also business partners.
Together they turned this once small wedding band into America’s # 1 Show Band, The Fabulous Infernos. Traveling all across the globe from the Republic of China to Rome, Italy and all across America. Racking up performances not only for The President of the United States but with the honor of being the featured performers at the last two New Jersey Governor Inauguration Balls. Opening act for the legendary band “Chicago” and always bringing a high-energy and style, The Infernos have become one of the most sought after bands in the country.
Kenny continues to have many business interests and projects; he is an Associate Voting Member with the Grammy Foundations and a life long member of BMI Music Publishers of America. Not to stop there, Kenny continues to perform as well as produce and provide musical talent and projects through his company, Phoenix Atlantis Entertainment.
His latest project with New Jersey Saxophonist Nick Stefanacci has brought Kenny back to his love for Jazz and Jazz Fusion after recording one album for Stefanacci entitled “26 Years” in 2011. Kenny was asked to join the live band and fill in on several NYC dates with Stefanacci
which included the legendary “B.B. Kings Night Club” in New York City’s Time Square.
Simmons and Stefanacci collaborated on a 2nd album called “All For A Reason” that was released in the fall of 2012. This CD features the legendary drummer Bernard Purdy as well as vocalist extraordinaire and Simmons “Studio Dogs” Alumni Kassoundra Clemons.
Simmons latest venture is his anthem to New Jersey Sandy Hurricane victims up and down the Jersey shore called “Keeping Jersey Strong” the lyrics & music by Kenny Simmons, Bobby Wells & Rocket J. Squirrel, Jr. Through this song he hopes to bring more awareness to the still needed help to families and homeowners alike that are in dire need of help, funds and manual labor.
There is still more work to be done and as human beings we should all find a way to something to help those less fortunate then us.
The story continues……
AWARDS / ACHIEVEMENTS
1996 Summit Award for Creation of The CD Rom Format
Associate Member of Grammy Awards Foundation
BMI Song Achievement Award For Songwriting
2000 Billboard Magazine Contest Song Competition Winner
2013 YMCA Board of Directors, Matawan, NJ
2013 Board of Directors Matawan - Aberdeen High School
2013 Chairman of YMCA Child Development Program