As teenagers Simmons and Edmonds played in a band called Tarnished Silver, which also included Rayford Griffin and Tom Borton, then with Babyface as guitarist and Simmons playing a variety of instruments for R&B band Manchild, the group signed a record deal in 1977. The same year, the group's only charting single "Especially For You" was released through the Chi-Sound Label and it clawed its way to No. 70 on the R&B chart. The group were to release three albums before breaking up and while the outfit never quite took off, Simmons and Edmonds relationship as writers/producers had already been cemented and the two would go on to collaborate for years.
After Manchild’s breakup, Edmonds and Antonio "L.A." Reid formed an urban funk group called The Deele in the early 1980s, which scored a few sizable hits on the R&B charts and had future collaborator Kevin "Kayo" Roberson on bass. Edmonds and Reid began producing and writing for other artists on the side, landing hits in Perri "Pebbles" Reid's "Girlfriend" and The Whispers' "Rock Steady". Following The Deele's third album in 1988, the duo left to continue their outside activities full-time, co-founding the LaFace Records label in 1989 and Simmons was very much a part of their production crew along with Roberson. Further hits followed in Paula Abdul's "Knocked Out" which was a top 10 R&B hit, and Bobby Brown's "Every Little Step", Sheena Easton's "The Lover in Me," and Karyn White's "The Way You Love Me" and "Superwoman", all of which performed well on both the pop and R&B charts and were co-written and co-produced by Simmons.
The LaFace production team scored another success on Johnny Gill’s 1990 eponymous album with Simmons not only co-writing and co-producing but playing percussion as “De’Rock.” The album was an R&B landmark as it was the first time LA and Babyface had worked on the same album as the other production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
In 1992, Simmons co-produced some hits with Reid and Edmonds on Bobby Brown's album Bobby, "Humpin' Around" (#1 R&B and #3 Pop) and “Good Enough” (#5 R&B, # 7 Pop) and on LaFace’s first female group TLC’s debut album Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip. The team also handled all the production work on Jermaine Jackson's album You Said You Said which contained the controversial “Word To The Badd.”
That same year, a Boyz II Men song written and produced by Edmonds, Reid and Simmons - "End of the Road" off the Boomerang soundtrack topped the US pop charts for 11 weeks and won the trio a Grammy for Best R&B song (awarded to the songwriter) the following year. The LaFace Production team kept pretty busy in 1993, working on Whitney Houston’s soundtrack of The Bodyguard and also churning out Toni Braxton’s smash debut solo album which went on to sell over 10 million copies. Edmonds, Reid and Simmons were so focused on churning out hits that they would rent a house and write and compose songs from the moment they woke up, all through the day. In the same year, Simmons collaborated with Edmonds and Reid on some songs for Johnny Gill's album Provocative. Until then, his production work had always been under the direction of the better known duo but that changed with Gill’s “Tell Me How You Want It” from the same album. Edmonds and Reid had to leave and work on another project so they told Simmons to finish the song, which he produced with Roberson.
In 1994, Edmonds released the triple platinum For the Cool in You and it was the same year he would end his relationship with LA Reid disclosing that the two would not be writing and producing together anymore due to ‘a difference of opinion on a couple of things,’ and that he did most of the writing. He conceded that he and Reid had never really been close friends and that "time after time" he had been exploited, because he trusts so easily and because he refuses to step on others in order to climb to the top. While Edmonds went on to more success, Reid had a not so successful career as President and CEO of Arista Records after replacing Clive Davis only to leave the job after 3 years in charge and running up losses of over US$100m to later become Chairman of Island Def Jam Music Group.
Edmonds collaborated with Simmons on Aretha Franklin's "Willing to Forgive" which reached no. 5 on the R&B charts and Mariah Carey's “Never Forget You” which peaked at number 7 and in 1995, A Few Good Men’s album Take a Dip was released on September 26, 1995 and one single “Have I Never” hit the R&B top 40. Simmons was the group's manager and also served as the album’s co-executive producer and though the album was a solid enough R&B output, the quartet never released another record.
Working mostly with Thom “TK” Kidd and assisted by Kevin Lively as recording engineers and Tanya “Tann” Smith supplying backing vocals on his productions, Simmons set about turning out the Silent Partner output. He wrote and produced “Work Me Slow” for Xscape on the Bad Boys soundtrack, contributed “I’m Your Natural Woman” to Deborah Cox’s debut album, scored a Top 10 Pop hit for Monica with “Why I Love You so Much” (#3 R&B) and also wrote and produced a top 10 R&B hit ‘Do You Want To’ on Xscape's second album Off the Hook.
Other productions were “The One I Gave My Heart To" for Aaliyah's second album One in a Million which was released in 1996 and was a #11 pop and #8 R&B hit and went to number one in 20 different countries becoming Aaliyah's most successful song worldwide, “In My Bed” and “Never Make a Promise” for Dru Hill which both reached # 1 on the R&B chart and #4 and #7 respectively on the Pop charts, and “No one Knows about a Good thing” for Curtis Mayfield’s comeback and last album New World Order which due to Mayfield’s paralysis after an accident onstage on August 13, 1990, meant Mayfield's vocals had to be painstakingly recorded, usually line-by-line while lying on his back. Simmons also collaborated with Paoli Soleri, on The Bells of Arcosanti, a project that set out to celebrate and support the vision of Soleri, an architect whose vision of an ecologically sound series of buildings resulted in the creation of a community that can, literally, be played with Simmons playing a series of bells created by Soleri as instrument, art object, and environmental piece, but also parts of the buildings themselves.
Simmons got back to collaborating with Edmonds on songs by Dru Hill (We’re Not Making Love No More,” #2 R&B) Whitney Houston and TLC’s third album FanMail. The same year, Simmons wrote and produced Kevon Edmonds' "No Love" which made the R&B charts and in 1999, gave new life to The Dells' "The Love We Had (Stays on My Mind)" which he produced for Dru Hill’s second album Enter the Dru and despite not being released as a single the song made it into the R&B top 50 on radio airplay alone. When Pink was recruited for a female R&B short-lived trio called Choice in 1996 which signed to the LaFace label on the strength of their demo, it was Simmons who asked her to write a bridge section for the song "Just to Be Loving You" and the result impressed L.A. Reid enough to give her a solo deal with LaFace, leading to her first record Can’t Take Me Home.
In 2005 Simmons co-wrote the songs with Edmonds for "Tonite It's Goin' Down", "Grown & Sexy", "Goin' Outta Bizness", and "Sorry For the Stupid Things" of which the last one made the R&B Charts. Most of Simmons' songs are crafted on electronic keyboards in his home studio.
"I start out just fiddling, usually with a piano sound. I'm looking for an idea that feels like it could be a record. Once I have a few piano chords I like, the rest usually falls into place." He said. "I usually don't write a song for someone if I can't produce it - when I write, I already have a vision of how I want it to end up."
Read more about this topic: Daryl Simmons
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