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SPARKY SIMMONS  
 

                       

 


                                                          

                                                                     


Sparky Danny Harold Simmons Jr. born on October 20th 1976 in Concord, NC (Cabarrus County); nicknamed “Sparky,” by his parents, Danny H. Simmons Sr. & then Sherry Simmons, now Sherry Culler, after baseball legend Sparky Anderson. Sparky is married to Courtney Ann Simmons, has a son, Matthew Simmons, one sister, Amanda Rae Simmons; a half brother, Casey Simmons; two step brothers, Charlie Culler and Michael Vanzant.

As a kid, Sparky got his first taste and love for music at a very young age when his grandfather would take him to local country shows, and also gave him an acoustic guitar at age 8. He started taking lessons not long after and was taught guitar by Erik Upton until age 16. Erik pushed Sparky to be better than the best, always assigning what seemed like impossible tasks to accomplish until next week’s lesson, Sparky would spend 4 and 5 hours a day to learn and do what was expected of him. So much of Erik’s teaching was based on learning proper techniques, chord structure, scales, modes, theory and how to simplify any & everything. To this very day, when I compose guitar I still use & apply guitar techniques I learned when he was a kid.

Sparky got his first dose of Rock music with his father, riding around with him in his El Camino, listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet and Mountain, and then later, his first taste of psychedelic music in the 6th grade when a friend let him borrow a cassette of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. He truly discovered Rock music at age 10, when his parents had a huge house party and someone’s entire vinyl collection was left at their house that night. “I remember waking up really early the following Sunday morning, and there were these 2 giant boxes of records on the floor, I remember sitting down and looking at all these album covers, and thinking to myself… who is Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath? Very quietly, I listened to Black Sabbath’s, “Master of Reality,” “Paranoid,” Led Zeppelin’s “II,” Kiss “Love Gun,” plus several more.” Then as time passed, Sparky became another statistic in the MTV generation and in the early 90’s and started listening to Monster Magnet, Kyuss, L7, Love/Hate, Saigon Kick, King’s X, Motorhead, Warrior Soul, plus lots of others. These early influences would shape his taste in music forever!

Graduating in 1995, throughout and after high school, Sparky was in and formed several live working bands; Arcane, Static, and Vile (NC); Sparky played his first live gig, guitarist of Arcane, on July 31st 1993, with Wulfgang & Maniac Spider Trash at the Warehouse (now The 315 Club) in Salisbury, NC.

After & throughout college, Sparky stayed focused on music, learning about audio production, pushing the envelope with his guitar playing and song writing, but was waiting for the right time to truly begin his music career. That time finally came in 2001 with something called Acid FM. At that time in 2001, one album (Acid) was going to be 70’s psychedelic and the other album (FM) was going to be more straight-up Hard Rock. That double album was going to be it for me. I was going to make it and quit music forever. Ironically, that new musical focus on making that double album opened my mind, and took me in musical directions I had never imagined before. The name Acid FM became so etched into my mind I decided to keep it as the band’s name, and yes… you could say without a doubt Acid FM literally saved me musically.

Sparky was the bassist in a 3 piece instrumental band called Slee Stack Noise in 2001 and 2002, Ian Guthrie, sax and flutes; Eddie Ford; drums. The Slee Stack Noise played a couple live shows, and several high quality demos were made for booking purposes. The Slee Stack noise was so out there musically, I actually played bass like a guitarist would play rhythm, and so many of those psychedelic, punk rock pockets I applied when I started writing the initial songs in Acid FM.

By 2002 Slee Stack Noise was over, but so many Acid FM songs had been written and Sparky was READY to see Acid FM everywhere, in everything. Sparky moved back home to NC after not-so-wonderful time briefly living in SC, where Acid FM slowly became a live act. In September 2003, Sparky met Doc, through a common acquaintance. Sparky & Doc immediately started writing and recording music together and working off each other’s ideas. The musical sparks flew and the wheels were spinning. Acid FM released the single, “Delusion,” on the Surfaty Records Compilation CD entitled, “An Experiment in Music, Vol. 1,” in July 2005 which was heavily distributed, but still no live drummer was to be found. In the beginning, Doc and I worked with several drummers but no one seemed to work out, until we met Tony Hatfield in late 2005. Tony seemed to appear out of nowhere, and we began rehearsing as a 3 piece, with Sparky playing guitar, Doc on vocals & bass and Tony on Drums. This live working line-up was just what Surfaty Records needed to sign Acid FM for an album release, but due to time constraints the album turned into a 6-song EP entitled, “Electroviolent Paradox,” released in July 2006.

Tony left Acid FM shortly after the EP’s release; again, no live drummer. Sparky and Doc continued to write songs together and drums were recorded throughout 2006 and 2007 by Ben Shepherd and Ian Guthrie, all those songs are still unreleased. In 2007, Doc had to move back to New York for family reasons and Sparky, like always, continued with the music and Acid FM.

I (Sparky) found myself solo again, but with a renewed sense of... ok, it’s a new Acid FM era! I spent most of 2007 writing songs and working with my voice and learning to sing and play guitar at the same time. In late 2008, I formed a new Acid FM with Matt Scheipers on Drums, Alan Silsby on Bass, and Ugg on Guitar, but because of schedules and locations, Acid FM only got to rehearse on Saturdays and Sundays. However, the momentum was there and it was time to get LIVE! 10 Acid FM songs were written with this line-up, and a full length album was recorded, I was calling clubs and getting everything set-up for live shows, and then Matt Scheipers, “parted ways,” with Acid FM in mid 2010, and we couldn’t find a replacement drummer. Myself, Alan, & Ugg decided to take a break until a drummer was found and we never found one.

Doc moved back to NC in late 2009, but no position in Acid FM was available, but after the collapse of the 4-piece line-up, by August 2010, Sparky and Doc were in the studio writing together once again, until all hours of the morning like always. By this time, Sparky had re-worked and re-recorded all the previous Acid FM material to a much higher quality, and most of all he was a full-fledged vocalist, Doc and Sparky were working on Acid FM & Black Promises simultaneously.  

Then with very little planning, Sparky and Doc decided to take a trip to Sayreville, New Jersey in February of 2011 to see a live show, of one of their all-time favorite bands; Monster Magnet! Sparky and Doc loved every second of the show, and on the 10 hour trip home from NJ back to NC, Sparky and Doc were politely arguing over what Monster Magnet song to cover in a live set. It was really funny, because I finally said, "I am going to just release a damn tribute album and that is exactly what I did."

In September of 2011, Kiss the Right Side of Your Brain: A Tribute to Monster Magnet, was released on Sparky’s Independent Record Label, MonsterFuzz Records.

In the search for artists to appear on the Monster Magnet Tribute album, Sparky met Alisa Coral; founder of the international recording act Space Mirrors. Since Alisa resides in Moscow, Space Mirrors was not able to release a song on the Monster Magnet Tribute CD, but Sparky and Alisa became good friends and released a 2-track, 7" 45 on Red Vinyl featuring the Space Mirrors song, "Dreams of Area 51." and the Acid FM song, "Space Beyond Space," the first original Acid FM single with Sparky on vocals. Due to their guitarist leaving Space Mirrors, Sparky was invited to be the new main guitarist in Space Mirrors in early 2012. Sparky recorded guitar for the instrumental song, "Rue d'Auseil Is Missing," for the Space Mirrors album, "In Darkness They Whisper," and recorded guitar on 8 of 9 songs for the upcoming sequel album entitled, "Cosmic Horror II: The Other Gods." Sparky remains the main guitarist for Space Mirrors to this very day.
I so enjoy recording & writing guitars in Space Mirrors, Nik Turner of Hawkwind, Alice Coral, Martyr Lucifer, Cyndee Lee Rule, plus many other notable artist appear on their albums and it is such an honor to be a member of the Space Mirrors family.

By late 2011, Sparky and Doc were back on the Acid FM path, with Sparky on vocals and guitar, Doc on Bass, and working with an old band mate of Sparky’s, Brian Kelley; Brian was playing drums and new Acid FM songs were being written by Sparky and Doc, but then again, like an old penny… Brian couldn’t make it to practice and so yes once again Acid FM was without a drummer.

Then in early 2012, under the oddest of circumstances, Sparky was introduced to none other than Jeremiah Johnson. It was so strange, I have known Jeremiah’s two cousins and his older brother all my life, but I never met or knew of Jeremiah growing up. It was so funny the first time I met him, he walked in the studio with his cousins Mike and Scott, we hung out and talked. He asked if we could JAM but it was after 1:00 a.m. so that didn't happen, Jeremiah came over a couple days later, got behind the drums and we played together for about 30 seconds and I said to him, "You’re hired if you want the job.” Jeremiah said, “Hell yeah man I'm in." Jeremiah and I jammed for over 6 hours that night and Acid FM has sounded awesome since!

Jeremiah's talents, abilities, attitude, and dedication to music along with Sparky and Doc's completed the Acid FM circle in the strongest way ever. Acid FM for the first time is strong, alive and kicking! Sparky and Doc wrote 8 new songs with Jeremiah and pulled a couple of old ones out of the vault and released, "Justified American Music," (J.A.M.) in January of 2014. The album is selling and Acid FM is finally getting on with this Live Rock N’ Roll thing. A three week US tour is planned for the summer of 2014 starting in NC and going all the way out to California.

Acid FM’s first show with the current line-up was October 26th 2012 at the Somewhere Else Tavern in Greensboro, NC. Acid FM played 9 more gigs throughout 2012 and into 2013 with lots of success. Acid FM is now getting calls from clubs and promoters to play shows, and every show Acid FM plays, the fans who have never heard them always love it and buy the merchandise. The legend has begun.

 

 
 

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