John’s cremation was held the following week at Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery. It seemed like half the musicians in Paris, certainly most of the ex-pat musicians, turned out to see John off. Throughout the service, a gospel choir that John was involved with sang selections from the songs that he had written. It was quite an experience, intensely emotional yet a rich vein of joy ran through it too, albeit one with an unintentionally humorous end.
John and I never worked together again after the Marrakech trip. Though we often didn’t see each other for long stretches, our friendship never seemed to fade. There were a few occasions when I would sometimes stop into one of his gigs and sing harmonies for him on a song or two, or help him tweak the sound system so the show would sound its best “out front”. He always appreciated that. “The doctor is in the house!”, he’d cry, smiling his big smile and laughing his big laugh.
I don’t remember when I first met John. I do remember that I first heard of him when he was recording his album, “My Acoustic Soul“, as a friend of mine was playing mandolin on the recording. That may have been 2004 or 2005. Perhaps I was a little late to the party but having heard his name once it seemed that everyone was suddenly talking about this great soul singer, John Simms.