Lost In The Shuffle: Simon F!

In hindsight, Simon F's career seems to be the yin to Billy Idol's yang. Billy was blonde (bottle blonde, but still), Simon's hair was black, both singer's original band had been signed to Chrysalis when they imploded and tracks originally released by their respecftive bands - Billy's Generation X and Simon's Intaferon - waere then re-packaged for their official solo debuts. Billy co-opted "Dancing With Myself" and "The Untouchables" from the last Gen X record Kiss Me Deadly while Simon took "Baby Pain" for himself.

Of course, my first experience was Simon F was at the long-gone Poplar Creek concert venue in Schaumburg. Jeans West had run a promotion where anyone who bought a pair of jeans got free tickets to see Cheap Trick. We drove in from Michigan to see the show and had not heard any mention of an opening act.

Being exposed to opening acts you wouldn't have otherwise given the time of day was half the fun of going to concerts back then. With Cheap Trick, though, they had fallen into a nasty rut of treating fans to all sorts of hair metal acts. Unfortunately, hockey rinks are horrible places to see a band, metal bands especially.

As this was my first outdoor Trick gig, I didn't expect the acoustics to be much better, but maybe whoever warmed up would at least be visually entertaining.

A lone spotlight shot through the night illuminating a lone mic stand at center stage, as all crowds tend to do, they began shouting "Cheap Trick! Cheap Trick! Cheap Trick!"

A dark figure took the mic and stated quite emphatically, "FUCK. YOU!" and then his band began playing what I quickly recognized to be a heavily-programmed version of the Hoodoo Gurus' "I Want You Back"?

Thing was, it was hard to pay attention to the music for all the trash that was raining down on Simon and his band. It seems that good sense flew out the door along with every cup of beer and pizza box anyone had been holding. And it didn't stop for the whole entire set, which thankfully only lasted about 25 minutes before Simon literally fled for his life.

I'd been to my fair share of concerts, but I had never seen anything like Simon's nihilistic tangle with the audience. As a rocker myself, we had opened for a few big names by then, but had never thought of being openly hostile to anyone.

I completely hated the set and said so after the show to my girlfriend who echoed my sentiments, but over the next few days I couldn't get a couple of his songs out of my head.


I went out and bought the album and ended up playing it a heck of a lot more than the album Cheap Trick had been promoting (Standing On The Edge).

Of course, as is the case with most bands I begin digging, Simon F was dropped and completely off the radar for three years. By 1987, I was a DJ in a redneck bar in Michigan trying to get the locals to dance to stuff that wasn't so damn predictable (I love "Legs" and "You Dropped A Bomb On Me" as much as anyone, but five times a night?)  Every week, we'd get a new shipment of the latest music videos from all the major labels and Simon F's name appeared on the Reprise tapes.

The song was "New York Girl", which I immediately played for my own curiosity before it got too busy and was surprised to see the dance floor fill up with lovely ladies.

I can't say what other regional markets Simon F may penetrated, but if he'd shown up in Decatur, Michigan in 1987, drinks would have been on the house all night, every night.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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