Joe Simon enjoyed major success in the R&B/soul world in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but then left the secular music field to become an ordained minister. Simon passed away recently at 85.

By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — Joe Simon was one of Southern soul’s smoothest and most convincing stylists. Yet he also was not enamored of fame or status, and he walked away from popular music in 1983 to become an ordained minister. Simon died Dec, 13 at 85 in his hometown near Chicago. But his music remains beloved, particularly his biggest hits “The Chokin’ Kind,”  a soul cover of a Harlan Howard country tune, in 1969, “Drowning In The Sea Of Love” with Gamble and Huff in 1971,  and “Power of Love” in 1972.

Simon grew up in Louisiana, but moved to Los Angeles in the early ‘60s. His first hit, “My Adorable One” in 1964, included musical contributions from Sly Stone and Larry Graham. During the ‘60s and ‘70s, Simon became a huge attraction as a touring star, and was also a consistent radio hitmaker. He earned the nickname “The Mouth Of The South,” while amassing three number one hits and 14 Top 10 singles. Simon also created the theme to the 1973 film “Cleopatra Jones. He chronicled the high and low points of his career in the 2016 documentary “Looking Back With Joe Simon.”

Simon made his famous change during an engagement when he forgot the words to his hits while performing before 10,000 people. He urged those in attendance to get their money back and said he was headed to church. From there he made the transition and spent his final years ministering to souls rather than entertaining fans with his hits.