Malcolm Simmons was born on January 25, 1933, in the small cotton-farming
community of Twist, Arkansas. He was a childhood friend of
James Cotton, who was serving as an
apprentice of Sonny Boy Williamson
II (Rice Miller) at the time. The two boys persisted in skipping school
together for the more enticing lure of jamming on their harmonicas, and
Cotton taught Simmons the harp techniques he was learning from the master.
Soon school was dropped completely, and Mack picked cotton and drove a
tractor full time. Then at 18, he left for St. Louis, where he lived for two
years while working on the railroad. It was here that Simmons met the
renowned Robert Nighthawk and made his club debut on Nighthawk's stage.
In 1954 Little Mack moved on to Chicago, where he formed his own band and
held down a five-year stand at Cadillac Baby's, as well as performing
regularly at Pepper's Lounge and at Sylvio's. In 1959 he began his recording
career, initially at Carl Jones's C.J. label, then he cut tracks for
Cadillac Baby and Chess Records. Over the next three years, he laid down
more sides for the Palos, Bea & Baby and New Breed labels. By the late
1960s, Simmons had redefined his musical style, incorporating an intriguing
mix of gospel, country and western, funk, soul and rock influences into his
blues. From the mid to late 1970s, he owned and operated the Zodiac Lounge
in Chicago. He also owned a studio and recorded for his own labels: PM
Records and Simmons Records. In addition he cut blues tracks for Biscayne
and Dud Sound, and in the 1980s he recorded for Sky Hero Productions, in
which he was a partner.