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Listen to the Discography Sampler | Intro Intro | Sampler Medley


1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s     

Apprenticeship at Columbia Records

Broadway Original Cast Albums Producer: Goddard Lieberson

“These were my first experiences in a professional recording studio, “30th Street”, a cavernous ex-church that was so big a full Broadway orchestra, cast and chorus rattled around like beans in a maraca. Miles Davis recorded “Kind of Blue” in here. Glenn Gould recorded his distinctive interpretations of Bach here. But these were Broadway show albums, recorded all day on the first Sunday after the shows opened. I got to see a lot of famous performers and song-writers. But I never expected that my first sighting of Richard Rodgers would be of him facing a urinal.”

Do I Hear A Waltz -Richard Rodgers: Composer

Anyone Can Whistle – Stephen Sondheim: Composer

The Girl Who Came To Supper – Noel Coward: Composer

Here’s Love – Meredith Wilson: Composer

What Makes Sammy Run? – Ervin Drake: Composer

& others

“Legacy” Series, Book And Record Packages – Producer: Goddard Lieberson

“While the Broadway show recordings were tightly scheduled, these Legacy projects spread out leisurely over many days and took place in the recording studios that were in the same building as our Columbia Records offices, 799 Seventh Avenue. The larger of the two, Studio A, can be seen on the back cover of my “Journey” album. It was here that engineer Roy Halley developed his big snare drum sound using the stair well of the building as an echo chamber.”

The Badmen – Ramblin’ Jack Elliot Ed Mccurdy , et al

The Irish Rebellion – Clancy Brothers , et al

Doctors Drugs & Diseases – Sonny Terry & Brownie Mcghee , et al

Mexico – Carlos Chavez, composer

Spoken Word, Documentary, Etc.

Hamlet – Richard Burton , et al

Homage To Shakespeare – Elizabeth Taylor, John Geilgud
“HAMLET and HOMAGE TO SHAKESPEARE were recorded at the height of the public romance of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. I got to meet them and their dog in their NYC hotel penthouse.”

Spoon River Anthology

Point Of Order – The Army-McCarthy Hearing
“POINT OF ORDER consisted of live recordings from the Congressional hearings in which the US Army was forced to defend itself in the face of bogus accusations from puffed-up Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Originally monaural recordings, we created a stereo illusion in the studio.”

The Medium Is The Massage – Marshall McLuhan
“Marshall McLuhan was a “media guru” who was tremendously influential in the Madison Avenue advertising world of the ’60′s. THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE was a popular illustrated paperback featuring nuggets illustrating his thinking. The record includes McLuhan himself, Bryna Raeburn and Bob McFadden (2 multi-voiced character-actors), Ralph Curtis (a sound effects man from the glory days of radio) and a musical score that I wrote. The album is very dense to say the least. When I first met Taj Mahal, he told me that, because it was so dense, he would listen first to the left channel and then the right channel separately.”


Jazz, Pop, Rock At Columbia Records

Joe Mooney: “The Greatness Of Joe Mooney”
“Joe was a blind jazz organist and accordionist from whom I learned of the acuity of blind musicians. He could hear a needle in an auditory haystack.”

Kenyon Hopkins: The Reporter – Phil Woods, Zoot Sims , et al (Big Band)
“This was the very first session I ever produced, a jazz-flavored soundtrack from a TV series. What a thrill just to be in the studio with fabulous musicians who had previously just been names on the back of my record albums: Zoot Sims, Phil Woods, Osie Johnson, Milt Hinton, Barry Galbraith, Ernie Royal, Urbie Green and on and on.”

Polkas & Waltzes Just For Fun – Frankie Yankovic & His Yanks

Movietime Polkas & Waltzes – Frankie Yankovic & His Yanks
” Frankie, The Polka King, was the first artist whose entire recording future was assigned to me all by myself. We recorded in Chicago. I developed an appreciation, if not a fondness, for polka music.”

Skitch Henderson: Tonight – The Tonight Show band with Doc Severinsen, Clark Terry , et al (Big Band)

Sing To The Lord – Woodstock Jesuit Singers
“This isn’t the Woodstock of the Woodstock Festival. It’s Woodstock, Maryland. This album came about because the Pope decided it was okay for Catholic hymns to be sung in English instead of Latin.”

Of Course, Of Course – Charles Lloyd, Tony Williams, Ron Carter, Gabor Szabo

A jazz date. Charles Lloyd, Ron Carter, Tony Williams and Gabor Szabo. Co-produced with venerable jazz producer, George Avakian. It was the first time I met Robbie Robertson of The Band. He was a friend of Charles who invited him to play on a couple of the songs.”

Red Rubber Ball – The Cyrkle
“Recorded in Studio B, Columbia’s smaller studio. Because I had written and played an organ part for this song, the 3 guys in the Cyrkle had to add a keyboard player to their band when they went on the road. They opened for the Beatles!”

Ten Tuff Guitars – George Barnes, Bucky Pizzarelli , et al
“This project came about because CBS, Columbia’s parent company, bought the Fender guitar company. Since I had given them a hit with “Red Rubber Ball”, they assumed that I could create a guitar instruction package. But I was a really bad choice for the job; I didn’t play the guitar! A typical mis-directed corporate decision.”

The Baroque Inevitable – Rock Hits Arranged In Baroque Style.
“The album was suggested and titled by Bruce Lundvall, then a friend and colleague at Columbia Records. Later, at Capitol and Blue Note, to become a major player in the development of the recording careers of countless jazz and pop artists, like Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Cassandra Wilson and Norah Jones.”

Confections Of Love – Brute Force

Bookends – Simon & Garfunkle (Several of the songs).
“Paul and Artie were proceeding slowly with this project and, meanwhile, I was anxious to leave Columbia and become a free-lance producer. So Bob Johnston took over the production after I left.”

The Songs Of Leonard Cohen – Leonard Cohen
” A wonderful and exciting opportunity. I’m proud of the use of wordless women’s voices, mostly Nancy Priddy (eventually the mom of Christina Applegate). Leonard used to say, “There’s no accounting for taste”, a good reason for our amicable parting toward the end of the project. He finished up by adding some of the exotic instruments from a band called “Kaleidoscope”. This is the first album I did that seems to have stood the test of time.”

Singles At Columbia Records

“experimentation may be the key word here.”

Here, There & Everywhere, Hush, Don’t Cry – Bonnie Herman
“Golden-voiced Bonnie later became the lead for The Singers Unlimited.”

Santa Mouse, It’s Christmas, The Work Song, Go Away – Bob Morrison

Would You Believe? – Kenny Lonas

Dear Mrs. Applebee – The Guilloteens

Reason To Believe, Hello, You Tomorrows – Carolyn Hester

You’re Taking Me For Granted, Will You Care What’s Happening To Me, Baby – Bernadette Peters
“Yes, Bernadette Peters”

Hey, Taxi – One
“A band led by Jackie Lomax, whom Brian Epstein predicted would be as popular as the Beatles.”

Walking Backwards Down The Road – The Brothers Four

Confidence – The Kirby Stone Four

Plus singles by many others, including Carol Sloane, Thor’s Hammer, and The Clefs Of Lavender Hill.


Independent Production and Arrangements

Child Is Father To The Man – Blood, Sweat And Tears.
“Al Kooper’s band. Al convinced me to leave Columbia and work as an independent producer. In my naivete, I didn’t even know that independent producers existed! Fred Catero was the engineer for this project, as he was for Cheap Thrills later on.”


You Are What You Eat – Peter Yarrow, Paul Butterfield, et al.
“A movie soundtrack that Peter (of PP&M) and I did for a documentary of The Sixties.”

Did She Mention My Name? – Gordon Lightfoot
“The Last Time I Saw Her Face” PLAY EXAMPLE
“I loved writing the string arrangements for this album. Artists have various ways to come up with songs. Lightfoot once told me that he would check into a hotel in a strange town and walk around and the people and situations he would see would suggest song subjects to him. I saw that Lightfoot was playing locally last summer so I went to see him. He sounds great.”


Music From Big Pink – The Band.
“We all met through the intuition of Howard Alk, the film editor of You Are What You Eat. On our first session, in one afternoon, we recorded “We Can Talk About It Now”, “Chest Fever”, “Lonesome Suzie” and “Tears Of Rage”. Then we added “The Weight”, which turned out to be The Band’s most popular song, at the end the session. We’d spent a lot of time on the arrangements for the other songs but no time at all on The Weight.”

Cheap Thrills – Janis Joplin, Big Brother & The Holding Company
” I was doing 2 projects at once in the same place, Columbia’s Hollywood Studios. The Electric Flag in the afternoon and Cheap Thrills at night. Janis came into the Flag’s session and heard me playing piano. She said, in her particular, indignant fashion, “How come you’re playing on THEIR album and not on OURS?” I replied that I was IN The Flag at that point and Big Brother, on the other hand, was a self-contained band. But she insisted, so we recorded “Turtle Blues” that night with me on piano. It’s one of my 2 embarrassing performances on record. At the time I knew NOTHING about playing the blues. I knew the blues intellectually, but not internally. But there it is.”

“That day turned out to be eventful for me in a related way. Taj Mahal also dropped in on the session and invited me to join his band for a European tour (with Ed Davis, Bill Rich and Jim Carstein). I jumped at the chance. If I was looking for an opportunity to internalize the blues, that was it!”

The Electric Flag, An American Music Band – The Electric Flag

Dream A Little Dream Of Me – Mama Cass
” I didn’t produce Cass’s hit, after which this album was titled. This album was space-y, a lot of fun and indulging Cass’s more fanciful side. In fact, it was so non-pop that I heard that the producer of her hit was going to sue us. I came to love Cass as a warm, accommodating soul. Her parting came much too soon.”

Last Summer (Composed Movie Soundtrack)


The Band – The Band
“We recorded this 2nd Band album principally in the pool house of a Hollywood estate that had previously been owned by Sammy Davis Jr. We were our own engineers, so there was no one on the scene except for the 6 of us. Prior to the start of recording, Robbie and I and our families vacationed together to work on songs. The only one we ended up collaborating on, “Davey’s On The Road Again”, appeared later on my own 1st album, not The Band’s.”


1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s

John Simon’s Album – John Simon
“I got real good reviews for this album, but I never went out on the road to promote it. I had seen what the road did to relationships and I had just started a new one that I knew would be very important to me (and which has since lasted about 40 years). So it became a little-known item that would either show up for collectors at 50 dollars a pop or in garage sales for 50 cents.”
“Davey’s On The Road Again” PLAY EXAMPLE

Down Home – Seals & Crofts

On The Road, Playing Piano With Taj Mahal


Three – Jackie Lomax

On The Road With Taj Mahal Again

“Sometime around here I started rekindling my goal of writing Broadway musicals. I got pretty far, particularly with a musical based on the “Archie” and Veronica comics. But I was never good at the second word in “music business”, so these projects never blossomed. Too bad.”


Small Town Talk – Bobby Charles
“Bobby Charles, composer of “See You Later, Alligator” and other hits, showed up in Woodstock and he, Rick Danko and I were able to utilize all of Woodstock’s best resident musicians to make a delightful record.”
“Small Town Talk”

Morning Bugle – John Hartford
“In the same year, John Hartford came to Woodstock with his playing partner, Norman Blake, to record an album. As John and I drove through town, he said, “We’ll need a bass player.” I said, “Well, there goes one of the best bass players in the world carrying his laundry to the laundromat.” It was Dave Holland. I asked Dave if he wanted to play on this bluegrass album. He asked me what bluegrass was. I said it was like jazz, but from the mountains of Appalachia. He signed on and continued to play with Hartford, off and on, for years.”
“Late Last Night When My Willie Came Home” PLAY EXAMPLE

Journey – John Simon
“My 2nd album. My first album took years and too much money to make so I resolved to change that and did this album in 3 sessions with all the musicians playing live. As a result it’s much more jazz-tinged. There are great performances from Dave Sanborn, Dave Holland, Randy Brecker, Howard Johnson and others. It contains “Short Visit” which fits into the story later on.”
“Short Visit” PLAY EXAMPLE

The Staton Brothers – The Staton Brothers


The Ducks – The Ducks

Islands – Cyrus Faryar
“Cyrus was the hub of whatever wheel I had in LA. “Islands” was recorded on equipment I bought and set up in his home, equipment that Charlie Piera and I eventually drove back across the country to set up in my studio near Woodstock.”

Sapo – Sapo


Randy Handly – Randy Handly
“Here’s another situation where a real talented artist falls victim to the mastication of the music business. Another “too bad.”‘

Refugees – Rachel Faro
“Rachel is a talented writer and singer. For “Refugees” we assembled an all-star cast from many different schools of music: Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland and Michael Brecker from the jazz world, Colin Walcott, of Oregon from the New Age division, Bonnie Raitt from folk and pop, Tito Puente from the latin realm, a chorus of female Baltic singers and a classical string quartet.”


Rachel Faro II – Rachel Faro


Act Like Nothing’s Wrong – Al Kooper
“Al Kooper won’t let me forget the comment I leveled at him from the control room after his first attempt at a particular vocal on this solo album: “Al, let’s try it again and see if you can achieve some level of palatability.” He did.”
American Gypsies – Galdston & Thom

Big,Bright Street – Hirth Martinez
“The beginning of a long musical association and friendship with Hirth Martinez. An artist sent to me by Robbie Robertson and previously sent to Robbie by Bob Dylan. Good credentials for a great performer.”

The Last Waltz – The Band (& Musical Director For Last Waltz concert)
“What a night! So much has been written about this concert in which The Band was the back-up group for many of their favorite artists. I had to run the rehearsals and coordinate the musical aspects of the performance. I felt like the ringmaster at a circus.”


Priestess – Gil Evans
“What an honor to work with Gil Evans, one of my idols from the moment I first heard his arrangements. In addition, Gil had heard the song, “Short Visit” from my
“Journey” album and had arranged it for Dave Sanborn without my knowing it. That was a thrill.”

Heart To Heart – David Sanborn


Best Little Whorehouse In Texas – Original Cast Album

Wizard – Matrix

Colorado Blue – Gary McMahan
“Gary is a yodeling cowboy-poet. The real McCoy. One of Gary’s poems asks that, when he dies, he have his hide made into a saddle—to be bought by a beautiful woman–so that he can be between the 2 things he loves the best.”


Tiger In The Rain – Michael Franks
“Michael gave me carte blanche to write the arrangements for this album and it turned out so well I used it as my arranging demo. Great players, great songs too.”
“Underneath The Appletree”PLAY EXAMPLE

Tale Of The Whale – Matrix

Jackrabbit Slim – Steve Forbert
“Sessions were set up for Steve to record with Nashville’s Finest but, after the 1st date, Steve said he wasn’t happy with them. But they had already been booked for the duration of the project and pre-paid. Oh, no! What was I going to do? In my hotel room there was a Gideon’s Bible. I opened it at random to a Psalm addressed “To The Chief Musician”. “Oh, that’s me!”, I thought. Wait a minute! No, the reference is to God. So I left it up to The-Higher-Power-Of-My-Choice to figure it out. And figured out it was: the next day, one of Nashville’s Finest said, “We figure we’re not right for this project so we’ve got some other guys to recommend and we don’t want any money.” Hmmm.”

“Also, this recording was done live with everyone in the studio at once, no splices, no overdubs. Some wonderful material too.”

Composed the Finale For Twyla Tharpe’s BAM Season
“This was a pre-recorded 15 minute piece and Twyla wanted it to stay on 1 chord (for the most part, anyway). It has an insistent beat and exercisaholics tell me it’s a great work-out tape.”


1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s

Composed “When We Were Very Young”, a full-length ballet For Twyla Tharp at The Winter Garden.
“An opportunity to compose and conduct a ballet with a full orchestra in the pit of the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway. The show that followed us into the same theater lasted awhile: Cats.”


Wrote “Serious” Music And Music For The Theater, T.V., Radio.


FIFTEEN – Bireli LaGrene.
“A gypsy guitarist in the mold of Django Reinhardt (but with 2 more fingers), Bireli was actually just 15 when I went to Germany to record him live in a club with his group. At the time of this recording he had just become aware of Jimi Hendrix and had bought an electric guitar. But he had to cut a small, round hole through his acoustic guitar case for the volume knob of his new electric to poke out through.”

Assembled & supervised music For Rock & Roll: The First 5000 Years At The St. James
“This Broadway stage production was modeled after Beatlemania but encompassed pop music from Little Richard to the current bands of 1982 (Blondie,The Police, etc.)”

“The cast was fantastic, doing dead-on impressions of the hits. This project was a lot of fun.”


Musical Director of “The Comedy Zone” On CBS TV
“My first shot at TV. We were a summer replacement show on CBS with an ensemble cast like SNL, famous guest stars and Broadway comedy writers. It was a funny, clever show and a lot of fun. But the CBS junior execs from LA who had to spend the hot summer with us in a TV studio in Harlem were not happy. We were pre-empted by a Bugs Bunny special.”

Assembled and supervised music for “Accentuate The Positive” At The Bottom Line
“ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE was a musical tribute to Johnny Mercer, one of the great writers of American popular song.”


Yes Yes – Futu Futu

Assembled and supervised music for Our Common Future At Lincoln Center


1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s

Now Is Heaven – Pierce Turner


Like 1981, wrote “Serious” Music And Music For The Theater, T.V., Radio


Out On The Street – John Simon
“I got a call from my friend, George James, saying there were a couple of Japanese gentlemen asking around Woodstock if I was still alive. I was happy to report that I was. They said I had “krazyfans” in Japan and they funded a brand-new album for me, the very first on a record label under the aegis of Pioneer, the electronics giant. George and I assembled a great crew for this project: Levon, Rick and Garth from The Band, John Hall from Orleans, in-the-pocket bassist Paul Ramsey, consummate drummer Terry Silverlight, jazz greats Ron Carter, Toots Thielmans, Randy and Michael Brecker, Lew Soloff and George Young and Cornelius Bumpus from The Doobie Brothers. Listen to his solo on “…Summersong”! HMV Record Stores voted this one of that year’s 3 best, along with Eric Clapton’s and Peter Gabriel’s.”
“Hummin’ A Summersong” PLAY EXAMPLE
“Rock and Roll is an Open Wound”


J. Croce – A. J. Croce.
“A.J. is Jim’s son and a really exciting and talented piano-player, writer and singer. Though I’m old enough to be his dad, he taught me some things about music, like: often the albums you really like to listen to sustain a mood throughout, rather than being a potpourri of styles. Food for thought.”

Kip’s Bay Coeli Band – Kip’s Bay Coeli Band


Jackie & Roy Forever – Jackie Cain & Roy Kral.
“Jackie and Roy became our dear friends and hang-out buddies. Working together soon became an obvious thing to do.”

Body And Soul – Lainie Kazan


Harmony Farm – John Simon
“For the first time, I recorded on my own piano. You know, piano players are usually subject to playing on unfamiliar instruments when they record because no 2 pianos are the same. Two of them may come out of the factory with consecutive serial numbers and be worlds apart. So this was really a pleasure – at last! I turned our living room into a recording studio.

When I was working on those Legacy projects years ago at Columbia, I heard a version of the Gloria text from a mass in Spanish, but set to mariachi music! I loved it and used the same notion for the 91st Psalm.”


Kickin’ With Keiko – Keiko Lee
“Keiko Lee was the 1st of the artists from Japan that I worked with. It was a short notice project. She arrived in NYC and I wrote all the arrangements in 2 days. We recorded them – with an all-star jazz cast: Ron Carter, Grady Tate, Lee Konitz, Renee Rosnes, et al.”
“Come Back, Be-Bop / Lover, Come Back To Me” PLAY EXAMPLE


The Barn – Motoharu Sano
“Moto Sano, who is the equivalent of Bruce Springsteen in Japan, brought his entire office with him to Woodstock for this album. Later that year, Garth Hudson and I went to Osaka to perform with him in a mega-concert promoting this album. Largest audience for a concert I ever saw!”


Home – John Simon
“A second album recorded in my living room”


I’m Not Like I Was Before – Hirth Martinez.
“Our second record together. You can really hear Hirth’s further sophistication as a songwriter from the former album to this one.”
“I’m Not Like I Was Before” PLAY EXAMPLE


1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s

Hoagyland – John Simon And Various Artists.
“Proposed by Yoshi Nagato, my man-in-Japan, this was a lot of fun to put together, using some of my favorite performers, from Steve Forbert to Jackie Cain, Terry Blaine and Geoff Muldaur.”

The Best And Beyond – John Simon
“A Greatest Hits album that Pioneer put together along with a couple of live recordings from a concert in Japan and a special tribute to Rick Danko who passed while we were recording this album.”
“Home (live version)” PLAY EXAMPLE


(Building a house … “The Lost Years”.)


Performing Live: New York, Nashville, etc.


No Band – John Simon
“I’ve never considered myself much of a singer. I made this album to showcase some songs that I thought others might record. No nibbles yet. How about you?”


Reunion Concerts With Taj Mahal

Miscellaneous Performances

Began a regular Thursday night gig with a jazz trio at The Aroma Thyme Bistro In Ellenville, NY.
“I started performing Thursday nights with a trio at the Aroma Thyme. I’m still doing it. I call it my “jazz gym”. We play songs from the Great America Songbook and jazz and pop standards. I’ve always had great players to round out our group. Only missed one Thursday so far, except for taking winter breaks.”


More Scattered Performing And Arranging

And the Thursday night trio gig continues.


Resumed cabaret performances with my better-half, C.C. Loveheart, “Alone Together For the First Time Again.”Appeared at the Montreal Pop Festival.


Professional, Actors’ Equity premiere of “Jackass Flats”, a play written with C.C. Loveheart.


Rock Talk: “My Life In Rock and Roll” or “Rock and Roll: It’s Origin and Consequences.”

In addition to producing and arranging, John can be heard performing (on piano, mostly) on many albums, including some by ERIC CLAPTON, HOWLING WOLF, DAVE MASON, et al, as well as on most of his productions. He has also worked with BOB DYLAN, BONNIE RAITT, DR. JOHN, DIANE KEATON, MUDDY WATERS, JONI MITCHELL, VAN MORRISON, TOOTS THEILMANS and countless others. His songs have been recorded by CHER, MANFRED MANN, DUSTY SPRINGFIELD, THE BAND, MAMA CASS, GIL EVANS, DAVID SANBORN and more.