SF Rare Records Dealer Justin Torres Interviews Conga Drummer Raymond Simmons

JT: I’ve been talking to everyone from Marvin Holmes and Eugene Blacknell’s son Gino to Bob Jones and Jay Payton. I’ve focused on Bay Area Soul music from the mid 60’s to the late 70’s after R&B turned Soul and just before the Disco take-over. I’d like to talk a little in-depth about how you started playing music, early bands you played with, recordings you were on, the bands in the 80’s like Starlite and the others that were mentioned on your site.

Raymond: I have played in clubs since the early 70’s between Monterey and Sacramento. My beginnings were with dance students and performers. As opportunities came I got into the band thing. The more serious bands got me into the studio. When I learned how that worked and how disappointing record deals were I decided to record on my own label SELECT Records signing artists that I had been playing with.

JT: I’ve been collecting records since the 80’s when I was just a young man who had a record store around the block from my house and the owner even lived on our street. Joe at Creative Music taught me SOOO much. I still stop on by just to chat with him and his wife Elba. I’ve never heard The Fabulous Playmates’ tunes or know much about your label SELECT. I’d really like to know more about that for now. I know the big record you did came out in ’85 which is just at the end of the whole Modern Soul Era. You also worked with Harold Andrews on it and I’d like to know about that as well. Maybe you can give me a rundown of how the Playmates got together, who they were and how long you all stayed together?

Raymond: I’m also acquainted with Joe Lambert and his wife Elba at Creative Music Emporium. They are carrying my CD Hot Percussion Licks and I talk to Joe every chance I get. I met the Gray brothers known as The Fabulous Playmates through my live in girlfriend at that time. They heard how good my practices sounded in my apartment. I played an 8 Track of a garage jam I did with a band in San Mateo called Blue Fury for their younger brother Danny the bass player. He dug it and passed the word on to his brothers. I was then accepted into the band.

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