Malcolm Simmons was born in Twist, Arkansas. In his youth he befriended James Cotton, and they grew up learning to play the harmonica. Simmons relocated to St. Louis, Missouri, at the age of 18 and worked on the railroad. At this time Simmons made his stage debut with Robert Nighthawk.
In 1954 he moved again to Chicago, put together his own backing band, and had a five year residency at Cadillac Baby's. He commenced recording in 1959, issuing records on a number of labels including Chess. In the late 1950s and early 1960s Simmons recorded several more obscure singles, often simply billed as Little Mack (or Mac). Simmons went on to provide the opportunity for others talents to be seen. He owned and managed Chicago's Zodiac Lounge from the mid to late 1960s. In addition, he owned a recording studio and recorded on his own labels, PM Records (4) and Simmons Records (2). Simmons left the music industry at that time for the ministry, and was rarely heard in 30 years, notwithstanding an album he recorded in 1975 in Paris, France.
His return to blues music arrived with High & Lonesome (1995), which was an early success for St. George Records, an independent record label. Simmons' energetic style, accompanied by Studebaker John, belied his years. Come Back to Me Baby (1996), with featured sidemen John Primer, Willie Kent and Jake Dawson (guitarist) was also well received.
Simmons died in October 2000, of colon cancer, in his adopted hometown of Chicago, at the age of 67.
Mack Simmons Discography
- 8 Vocals
- 23 Instruments & Performance
- 17 Writing & Arrangement
- 1 Featuring & Presenting
- 12 Production