by Bill Dahl
His plaintive baritone equally conversant with R&B and country phrasing, Joe Simon married the two genres with startling success during the late 60s, adapting Nashville material to the soul sound and repeatedly coming up a winner. Simon began recording in the Bay Area, but a switch in recording sites (first to Muscle Shoals for Vee-Jay and then to Nashville, upon signing with disc jockey John Richbourgs Sound Stage 7 label in 1966) heightened his national appeal. With easy access to prime country-oriented material, Simon soon found his true calling, scoring major hits with Nine Pound Steel, (You Keep Me) Hangin On, and the number one R&B smash The Chokin Kind, penned by Music Row tunesmith Harlan Howard. Still dabbling in country covers after switching to the Spring imprint in 1970, Simon was even more successful when assigned to Philadelphia wizards Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who produced the moody Drowning in the Sea of Love the next year. Simon tried his hand at disco in 1975 with the sizzling Get Down, Get Down (Get on the Floor) and Music in My Bones, two of the most palatable artifacts of the era. Simon eventually retired from active performing to devote his life to the church.