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Seymour Simons
and the Blackhawk Restaurant Orchestra
Born:  January 14, 1896
Died:  February 12, 1949
WSM Grand Ole Opry
WGN Chicago, IL

About The Artist

Promo Ad - Tex's Western Style Bar - South Bend, IN - Barrier Brothers - October 1965 In the summer of 1934, WSM seemed to forgo the traditional music heard on the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights. Radio logs published indicate the Opry program was on WSM from 8:00pm to 12:00pm (midnight).

On June 2, 1934, from 11:00pm to 11:30pm, WSM aired the Blackhawk Restaurant Orchestra via network feed. The Blackhawk Restaurant was one of Chicago's well known dining spots and included a band stand to entertain their customers

The leader of the Blackhawk's orchestra was Seymour Simons. He had replaced Hal Kemp on April 1, 1934 and also took over his broadcast spot on radio station WGN as well.

Perhaps there was a reason for the interest and promotion of the Blackhawk Restaurant's Orchestra. On Monday June 4, they were originating a broadcast of the MidnightFlyers show at midnight with Pierre Andre acting as master of ceremonies and Seymour Simons' orchestra providing the music. Several Hollywood stars were expected to be a part of the program - Mary Carr, Lincoln Steadman, Marion Sinclair and Arthur Lake. Other Hollywood stars had sent word they would be listening in such as Jimmy Durante, Jack Pearl, Polly Moran, Lupe Velez, Walt Disney and the comedy duo, Laurel and Hardy.

It was Seymour Simon's first appearance in the Chicago Loop area. He was from Detroit; he was a mechanical engineer from the University of Michigan but after his military service, he turned into a musician and songwriter for the ten years prior to his time at the Blackhawk. Some of the tuned he had written were "All of Me," "Honey," Tie A Little String Around Your FInger," and, "Sweetheart of My Student Days." If the song, "All of Me" sounds familiar the reader may recognized it was a hit for Willie Nelson from his Stardust album that was released in 1978. Simons co-wrote the song with Gerald Marks.

Hal Kemp would return with his orchestra to the Blackhawk and also the WGN broadcasts on Sunday night, June 17, 1934.

Promo Ad - Shady Acres Ranch - Mulberry, IN - Barrier Brothers - July 1959
Promo Ad - Shady Acres Ranch - Mulberry, IN - Barrier Brothers - July 1959

Seymour Simons passed away from an undisclosed illness after being taken to the hospital in early February 1949. He had retired from show business several years earlier. His father was a one-time alderman in Detroit; a member of the City's first seven-man council. His obituaries noted that he wrote his first hit for Nora Bayes, "Just Like A Gypsy" whom he had met upon his return from World War I in New York; he had served as a lieutenant with the 32nd division. He wrote and published more than 300 tunes. In later years, he focused on radio work, teaching and "more serious composing."

Credits & Sources

  • Seymour Simons Replaces Kemp On W-G-N Today; Larry Wolters; April 1, 1934; The Chicago Tribune; Chicago, IL
  • Movie Players From Fair To Be Heard On W-G-N; Larry Wolters; June 4, 1934; The Chicago Tribune; Chicago, IL
  • News Of The Radio Stations; Larry Wolters; June 16, 1934; The Chicago Tribune; Chicago, IL
  • Song Writer Simons Dies At 52; February 13, 1949; The Detroit Free Press; Detroit, MI
  • His Hit Tunes Live On - Seymour Simons Who Wrote 300 Songs, Dies at 53; February 13, 1949; Kansas City Star; Kansas City, MO
  • Seymour Simons, Composer of 'All Of Me,' Dies; February 13, 1949; Evansville Press; Evansville, IN

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