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Marvin L. Sims, Sr. (1943-2010)

Marvin L. Sims, Sr., 66, died Friday, April 2, 2010. A celebration of Marvin's life will be held on Saturday, April 24th at 1:00 pm at Bella Sala, 3232 Jasper Avenue NW in Iowa City. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Marvin Sims Memorial Fund.

The following is his last e-mail to Soul Treasures...

Keisuke Yamada,

Here is some information you might be able to use, if not, no problem.

The song "You Blow My Mind" is garbled in spots, so I'm not sure how audible or useful it will be.

Also, I performed live on the "Hy Lit Show" in Philly in 1968. Universal records flew me there for the event to promote, "Talkin Bout Soul." I would love to have a copy of that performance, but have been unsuccessful in finding out how to get it. If you can be of any help I'd appreciate it.

Marvin L. Sims
October 20, 2009

Marvin L. Sims was a singer well-known to soul fans for his long career.  According to "Chicago Soul" written by Robert Pruter, Sims was born on December 11th 1944, in Sedalia, Missouri.  After he graduated from high school, he joined the Air Force in 1961 and finished his term of service in 1965.

He released several singles from Mellow, Uni, Revue, Mercury and Rivertown Records from 1965 - 1972. Among them, "Talkin' 'Bout Soul" in 1968 was a regional success and a national hit.  "Dream A Dream" was loved by many soul fans in Japan.

After he released "Love's On The Way", he left the business and went back to school where he obtained an advanced degree in Psychology

About 25 years have passed since then.  Sims released his first album, titled "Heart Talk" in 1998.  There was a power in his music which put kindness and thoughtfulness in one's heart.  He sent us the following message:

"The songs are honest, true and they come from the heart.  I sincerely hope you will take a little time to relax and listen to the messages as you enjoy the music."

"The songs are stories meant to reveal the hops, fears, and inner rumblings of the heart as it reminds us of how vulnerable we can be when we fall in love," he added.

"The music is meant to run the full gamut of emotions, and it depicts the lure of love and the unsettlingness of romantic dissipation.  It's one-third sorrow, one-third elation and one-third resignation.  As the name states, the CD is literally "Heart Talk"," he said.
The pictures of Marvin when he was traveling the U.S. with his band back in the 1970's.

Marvin L. Sims' story in his words...

As far back as I can recall I've loved music and singing. And it must have been something I was born with because I could always sing/harmonize. It took no effort and it wasn't anything I had to learn to do, it was a natural talent I had. And during my high school years a few of us guys would sneak through the industrial arts shop and go into the shower room off of the gym and sing.
This was the perfect way to spend the lunch hour. Other guys would join in to sing our versions of the latest songs by, The Dells, Harvey and the Moonglows, The Turbans, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, The Spaniels, The Crests, and other top groups of the day. And the shower room was the best place in the school to harmonize because the acoustics formed from the water, concrete, brick, and metal pipes were perfect for the vibrato sound we wanted to have.

Singing groups were plentiful at my High School and there would be highly competitive singing competitions between various groups in the school cafeteria several times during the year. Plus, it wouldn't be unusual to see 4-5 guys singing on the corner at any hour on a Friday or Saturday night. From my way of seeing things, then and now, music did calm the savage beast and it also gave me a happy heart. And in those days you had to be able to sing and you had to be counted on to hit your part every time, because there was no musical accompaniment to cover your mistake; it was strictly a cappella with four or five part harmony. The best singing group I ever sang with was, "The Silvertones," We (Billy Shobe, Glen Whitney, Gerald Byrd, Charles Rainey and I) were as good as any group I heard during the Doo-Wop era. And whenever we performed on local television the response was incredible. It's really too bad no big producer heard us.

I knew I loved music and singing and I loved to compete, but I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life after high school. I knew my mother and the teachers continually touted the values of an education, and I did believe what they said; but I never had any dreams or thoughts that I'd ever leave my home town so I really didn't take their advice seriously, or as something that applied to me. Fortunately, the local Air Force recruiter talked me into believing that I could continue my athletic pursuits in the military. He told me that I would be able to compete for a spot on the basketball team after I arrived at basic training. This was exactly what I wanted to hear, and the day after I graduated from high school I, along with Donnie Bell (We went in on the "Buddy Plan.") and eighty-one other fresh-faced Missouri recruits, took the two-day train trip to San Antonio, Texas to begin the next phase of our lives in The United States Air Force.

Joining the Air Force was the best thing that ever happened to me, but I must admit it really wasn't just my decision. My mother, Lucille Petty-Sims, decided that enlisting into the military is what I would do, so that's what I did; Mother always knows best. Ultimately the recruiter's selling point of sports and athletics in the Air Force proved to be nothing more than a sales pitch or a ruse to get me to sign on for four years.
And within 36 hours of arriving on the base I was ordered to send every bit of athletic gear I had brought back home "immediately." With seeming utter disgust, my drill instructor brazenly informed me that the closest I would get to a gym was when I ran by it during training drills. I didn't like the fact that I had been duped, but I was a realist and knew I would have to make the best of the new situation.

I spent four years in the United States Air Force as an Air Traffic Control Operator. I loved the job and the prestige the job brought with it, but I felt that something important in my life was missing. So approximately two years after enlisting in the military I joined a newly formed singing group, The Valentino's, at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois, and we started performing for parties and shows on the base. We entered a regional singing contest and won, (We sang the song, "Blue Moon" by The Marcels) so I was hooked and immediately sold on singing as my future career. While in the Air Force I recorded my first record for the "Mellow Label," "What Can I Do," for a Chicago production company, Colbert Productions. The record sold well in the cities and in the South and the company signed me to a long-term contract.

After receiving my honorable discharge, I joined a band in Champaign, Illinois and became their lead singer; all the while recording for Colbert Productions. After a while I formed my own band and took off on a long touring/promoting stint. Over the next seven years I traveled all across the United States and to three foreign countries promoting my records. It seemed to be never ending. I was on the road for at least 325 days each year, and like the greyhound at the dog track, I could never catch the rabbit that I was pursuing. After too many band breakups and relationship disasters, I decided that I wasn't going to make it to the level in the business I had aspired to attain. It was in 1972 on a cold and snowy night that I finally faced reality. We had just finished another grueling four-hour show in Salina, Kansas, when I told the band that I needed to take a break. So the show was over and we all traveled back to our respective homeports with varying emotions about what we had accomplished over the past years.

I moved back to Des Moines, Iowa with a lot of fear of the unknown and little sense of purpose or direction. After wallowing in my misery and pity for a couple of months, I realized that I was just about out of money; I then started seriously looking for viable career options. I decided that I needed a fresh start, and since I was a veteran, and eligible for the G.I. Bill, I enrolled in college at The University Of Iowa. Fearing my high school academic shortcomings would be my undoing, I knew I was going to have to work harder than ever before if I was to survive this life change. And I not only survived, I eventually thrived. I received both undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Iowa. Presently I am a Program Consultant for the department of athletics. I am a licensed independent social worker and a certified alcohol and drug counselor. For the past +20 years I have been employed as a sports therapist in the department of Sports-Medicine at the University of Iowa and I have an independent practice as a psychotherapist. I have also authored two books and I'm presently working on a third book.

Marvin L. Sims : U.S. Discography

45's Mellow 1002 Now I'm In Love With You / What Can I Do? 1966
45's Mellow 1004 (NIna) Have You Seen My Baby (part 1) / same (part 2) 1967
45's Mellow 1011 Disillusioned / Hurt Inside
45's Revue 11024 Talkin' 'Bout Soul / Old Man Time 1968
45's * Karen 1547 Sweet Thang / Your Love Is Wonderful 1969
45's Revue 11038 Danger / Get Off My Back 1969
45's Uni 55217 It's Your Love / I Can't Understand It 1970
45's * Mercury 73288 Dream A Dream / I Can't Turn You Loose 1972
45's * Mercury 73340 Love Is No Sin / You Gotta Go 1972
45's * Mercurry 73364 It's Too Late / Color Her Black 1973
45's Rivertown 498 Love Is On The Way / Blow Away Breeze 1980
CD Rivertown 498T3 "Heart Talk"
1 How Was I To Know
2 The Lucky One
3 Totally
4 A Rainy Day
5 When Love Is Gone
6 My Heart's Talking
7 Send For Me (I'll Be There)
8 Find Another Day
9 They Can't Take Away My Love
10 My Confession
11 That's How Strong Our Love Is
unreleased You Blow My Mind (3:27)
(* as Marvin Sims)

(French release)

Produced by ; Marvin L. Sims
All songs written by : Marvin L. Sims
All songs arranged by : Marvin L. Sims and Mark V. Pence
All songs programmed and performed by : Mark V. Pence
Music recorded at : Dream Tracks Studio
Vocals recorded at : Jammin' Bobby Lane Studio
Saxophone : Frank Drew
Engineered and mixed by : Robert "Bobby" Lane
Mastered at : Catamount Recording Studios

Contact to:
Rivertown Records