Paul Simmons was born in Nashville, Tennessee. He started playing the drums at school when he was 11 years old. At that time, he played in several cover bands with his brothers Mike and Jamie, who played guitar and bass respectively. He also credits his school band director, Brad Kinney, as being "a huge influence on me ... I owe him big time". During this time, he mentions bands like Deep Purple, Rush, and KISS as his favorites.
Simmons studied at McGavock Comprehensive High School in Nashville, Tennessee from 1979 to 1982. After graduating, Simmons began playing music with several bands. At one point, Simmons moved to Los Angeles to find a career in music. During the 1980's, he toured with the band Black Oak Arkansas. He said in an interview that he "started drinking and drugging, and lost sight of what real happiness is". He later realized that his actions "didn't only affect me but also the people around me" and decided to leave that lifestyle behind. In the late 90's, he became a born-again Christian.
After Louie Weaver was fired from Petra, Simmons found out they were looking for a drummer. He managed to get an audition through a common friend, recording engineer Dan Rudin. At the time, he was touring with a band called Th' Legendary Shack Shakers, but he flew to Nashville to make the audition. Some time later, he got the call from manager Wayne Seboa telling him he was hired.
Simmons played during the Jekyll & Hyde Tour, even traveling to Mexico and Europe with the band. In 2004, he also had the chance to play the drums with original Petra members Greg Hough and John DeGroff, when they reunited with fellow band founder Bob Hartman for a show in Angola, Indiana. Simmons said of the experience:
"I had a great time doing that show. I wasn't sure I was going to play with the original lineup until a few days before we got there. So I learned the songs on the way from Switzerland, and made a lot of notes. Those guys were writing some amazing stuff in the 70's. I'm glad I was able to do it. But I wish Bill [Glover] could have been there, too."
In 2005, Simmons performed with the band during the recording of their last album, Petra Farewell. At one point during the concert, Bob Hartman's guitar broke a string, and Simmons improvised a drum solo while Hartman fixed his guitar. However, the solo wasn't included in the final footage because the crew couldn't get a good run at it.
After Petra's retirement in 2005, Simmons continued to play sporadic shows with them up until 2010. He describes his experience with the band as "one of those things in life that just feels right". He adds that:
"The most important thing I felt with Petra was that I was accepted for who I am. I always felt loved in the band. That's an amazing feeling."
After his tenure with Petra, Simmons joined Reverend Horton Heat as drummer. He stayed with the band until 2012. He is currently playing with Tom Keifer and the Raelyn Nelson Band.
Simmons also started a recording studio in his house, where he records drums for other musicians. He also does mixing, vocal overdubs, guitars, and others.
- Petra Farewell (2005)
Background information and notesEdit
- When asked about his favorite Petra song, Simmons says he loves "playing Test of Time".