R.I.P. Lee Baby Simms

Broadcasting magazine - November 13, 1961
Broadcasting magazine, Nov. 13, 1961

It has been widely reported that radio legend Lee Baby Simms took his own life at his home in Walnut Creek, California on January 28, 2015. He had reportedly been diagnosed with cancer. Simms was 71.

One of the most colorful air personalities during the heyday of American rock and roll radio, Simms worked at 35 stations in 22 cities and found himself on the wrong end of a pink slip at least two dozen times.

Gilmore LaMar Simms - aka Lee Baby Simms

Lee Baby's arrival in Hartford was part of a package deal. He came with his friend, Woody Roberts, after a nasty contract dispute in San Antonio. They suddenly found themselves out of work in August 1966 when they tried to cross the street from KONO to KTSA. A Texas judge said "no," so within weeks the pair were the newest occupants of 1410 kilocycles in Hartford.

The duo occupied opposite ends of the clock. Woody woke Hartford up every morning while Lee Baby put 'em to bed at night.

Lee Baby's act was unlike anything central Connecticut had previously heard. On his very first program he incurred the wrath of a teenage caller for graphically describing how awful it was to be kissing a girl when her pimple pops.

While he was a deejay, he frequently interrupted the pop hits for extended rants on all sorts of inane topics. Some of his stories were fascinating as he ad libbed off the top of his head for minutes at a time.

Whether he truly felt that way, or the P.R. department simply dreamed up a clever hook, Simms criticized Connecticut and its people every chance he got. It made for good listening though it made WPOP some enemies.

Billboard magazine - August 20, 1966 (l-r:) Lee Simms & Woody Roberts
Billboard magazine - August 20, 1966 (l-r:) Lee & Woody
The Hartford Times - October 7, 1966
The Hartford Times - October 7, 1966
The Hartford Times - January 13, 1967
The Hartford Times - January 13, 1967
The Hartford Times - January 13, 1967
The Hartford Courant - July 8, 1967
The Hartford Courant - July 8, 1967

Like many of the stops in his radio career, Lee's Hartford engagement lasted only a year. It's worth noting that at first his crosstown competition was WDRC's Ken Griffin (the man he replaced at WPOP) and, later, Joey Reynolds (another ex-WPOP Good Guy who was just as unpredictable and uncontrollable on the air). It made great listening for Connecticut teens

Click here to read a tribute to Lee Baby by West Coast broadcaster Ken Levine.

Click here to read a biography from Ted Webb's Radio Years website.

Click here for an index of WPOP personalities.

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