February 3, 2015 at 3:06 am #6116Craig_AdamsParticipant
Today February 3, 1926 Willie F. “Buddy” Simmons was born in Memphis, Tennessee. In the 1940’s Buddy joined Slim Rhodes & His Mountaineers where he played electric guitar, steel guitar and sang in the Country & Western band. In about 1946 he married Opal E. (Morgan) and they had two sons, Donald Mark “Donnie” Simmons, born in 1949 and Larry Dean Simmons, born in 1950.
By 1951 Buddy had joined Tommy Kizziah & His West Coast Ramblers, in Salem, Oregon where he played bass violin. The Country & Western band appeared at dance halls and occasionally were heard on KSLM. In 1956 Buddy left the group to form his own.
On November 17, 1956 “Buddy Simmons & His Oregon Trailblazers” began an engagement at the “Division Street Corral” (17119 S.E. Division) and were heard simultaneously live on Country Western “910 KVAN” Saturday nights 9:30 to 10:00pm. On January 5, 1957 the last D. Street KVAN broadcast with Buddy and the band. The following Saturday, Heck Harper & His Wagon Masters began their engagement. By November 1957 the Simmons family was living at 10021 S.E. Wichita Ave. in Milwaukie.
On July 25, 1958 Buddy began appearing at “Watkins Park” dance hall (16705 S.E. 82nd Ave.) billed as “Gil McLeroy & His Northwest Drifters featuring Buddy Simmons vocalist.” On January 17, 1959 Buddy appeared for his first time at “Springer’s” dance pavilion (18300 S.E. Richey Rd.) billed as “Gil McLeroy — Buddy Simmons & The Northwest Drifters.”
On April 4, 1959 he began hosting KPTV’s “Northwest Jamboree” with Buddy Simmons Saturday’s at 7:00pm. Along with him were The Northwest Drifters and Benny Cliff and The Western Dancers. Sponsored by Louthan’s Furniture. On May 2, 1959 “Northwest Jamboree” moved to 6:00pm. Last telecast was on July 25, 1959.
In November 1959 Buddy started as an air personality on Country Western KPVA 1480 kc. Camas. On November 21, 1959 “Springer’s” began featuring a new line-up of “Buddy Simmons & The Country Drifters.” A week later on November 28, 1959 a switch to “Buddy Simmons & The Drifters.”
On February 26, 1960 “Buddy Simmons & The Drifters” began appearing at “Watkins Park” Friday nights, continuing at “Springer’s” Saturdays. On May 9, 1960 KPVA became KVAN 1480 kc. and Buddy was heard Monday through Saturdays. By August 1960 Buddy Simmons was KVAN Program Director.
On June 10, 1961 Buddy switched from “Springer’s” to the “Division Street Corral” on Saturday nights, continuing to appear at “Watkins Park” on Friday nights. In December 1961 Buddy Simmons & The Drifters released the 45 rpm “Blue Autumn Skies” backed with “Everyone Knows” on the Lavender label #1916. The single was taken from the mail order LP “A Souvenir Album, No. 1” by Buddy Simmons & The Drifters on Lavender #1659.
By August 1963 Buddy had moved to KRDR 1230 kc Gresham and was on the air weekdays Noon to 2:00pm. On October 23, 1964 KATU debuted the TV show “Hoedown!” with host Jim Hille (fellow KRDR DJ) and regular guest Buddy Simmons & The Drifters, plus Susan Rae on the first Hoedown at 6:30pm. After the initial telecast, it was seen Wednesdays at 7:00pm. On August 21, 1965 Buddy Simmons & The Drifters played “Springers” for the last time.
On January 22, 1966 Buddy Simmons & The Drifters began playing “Watkins Park” on Saturdays. On March 12, 1966 KGW-TV gave Buddy his own program “The Buddy Simmons Show” Saturdays at 4:30pm, with the last telecast on May 14, 1966. On June 25, 1966 Buddy Simmons & The Drifters played “Watkins Park” for the last time.
On April 21, 1967 Buddy Simmons & The Sunshine Boys, later aka Sunshine Set began playing nightly at “Jimaco’s” (10510 N.E. Clackamas St.). By October 1967 Buddy Simmons was KRDR’s Music Director for the next 6 years, to 1973. On July 26, 1968 Buddy Simmons began appearing nightly at the “Rimrock” barbecue (240 N.E. Columbia Blvd.). On June 11, 1969 Buddy Simmons & His Family Band began appearing Sundays at “Kirkson’s Warehouse” (12415 S.E. Powell Blvd.).
On December 11, 1969 Buddy Simmons began playing at “Club Venus” Saturdays & Mondays (11307 N.E. Sandy Blvd.). On October 18, 1973 Buddy became a Realtor with Stan Wiley. On October 19, 1980 Simmons moved to Re/Max Realtors. On August 14, 1981 Buddy moved to Oregon Realty Co. to 1984.
On August 21, 2012 Buddy Simmons died of cancer peacefully at his home. “He wished to leave this life quietly, so no services are planned.”
Special Thanks to Joel Miller who helped make this biography more complete.
References: Broadcasting Yearbook, BuddySimmons net, Hillbilly-Music dawt com, Salem Oregon Statesman, The Oregonian.
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