BMHOF Class of 2017
If Western New York had to name a champion guitar shredder, it might just be Howie Simon.
The list of people he has performed and recorded with reads like a who’s who of classic and hard rock legends. He has lived a little bit of a shredder’s dream as the guitarist in Alcatrazz featuring Graham Bonnet (the former singer of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow) for almost 10 years. He toured and recorded throughout the mid-2000s with singer Jeff Scott Soto (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, formerly of Journey and Yngwie Malmsteen) in Soto’s solo band. He also played with Soto in the Swedish hard rock band Talisman, which is well known in Europe. Simon has performed in 23 countries around the globe.
Since 2010, he’s been working with Gunnar and Matt Nelson (twin sons of Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer Ricky Nelson) in the ‘90s multi-platinum act Nelson.
In addition, he’s also a key part of Scrap Metal, spearheaded by Gunnar Nelson, who brings in different well-known special guest artists for each. Simon has been the house guitarist in this project for seven years.
In fact, while the Nelson brothers were double booked for a recent show, Simon was given the go-ahead to musical direct a Scrap Metal show on his own.
“This past weekend was the first Scrap show in the last seven years since I’ve been doing it that did not have the Nelson guys on the gig,” he said. “So I sort of steered the ship which contained some amazing legends”.
”I got to play Boston songs with Barry Goudreau, their original guitarist. I played Cars tunes with Elliot Easton (The band’s original guitarist) and even got to sing one. And I also performed with members of Stryper and former members of Dokken, doing their hit songs.”
“It was a sold-out outdoor thing in front of like 8,000 or 9,000 people. It was so awesome! And this is a typical Scrap Metal show!”
He has also performed with Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford, Lita Ford, Pat Travers, Kip Winger, Mark Slaughter, Joe Lynn Turner, Stephen Pearcy and a host of others with Scrap Metal. Simon has also toured with Mr. Big vocalist Eric Martin and former Ted Nugent singer Derek St. Holmes.
Simon’s guitar playing has appeared on over 45 commercially released recordings, including movie soundtracks, TV shows and commercials, studio recordings, live albums, live DVDs and more.
For Simon, it all started in the Buffalo area. He grew up in Snyder and graduated from Amherst Central High School. In his early teens, his very first band was Tyr. It played events like the Hertel Happening and at the downtown Naval Park.
Simon said his first rock ‘n’ roll heroes were KISS, who he got to see at Memorial Auditorium as a third grader in 1978. But his first real guitar hero was Yngwie Malmsteen in the ‘80s.
“I was also listening to Michael Schenker, Gary Moore and Ritchie Blackmore, plus a lot of Shrapnel Records stuff (a well known label at the time that released technical rock guitar albums),” Simon said. “I was really trying to figure out what they were doing and emulate that. What was it about Malmsteen’s playing that made him different, that made him stand out? He played unbelievably fast and it was aggressive and in-your-face, but there was a lot of melody. I mean, nobody had ever sounded like that before.”
He figured it out well enough that in 1989, he joined regional hard rock band Ice Water Mansion, performing over 300 live shows in 12 states in just under a two-year span.
He continued locally with his own band “Storm Warning” until he moved to Los Angeles in early 1994. He got a job selling guitars at a music store, but also started auditioning. He met Soto through an acquaintance, which eventually led to a late night jam session … and an offer to play on Soto’s new CD at the time and eventually tour around the world.
Simon was off and running. Since then, he’s become one of the most active guitarists in LA. He has been a regular at charity events in the Los Angeles area, including the annual “Rock Against MS” all-star concert.
Over the last couple of years, Simon has been a fixture in a very active L. A. jam night scene, including “Ultimate Jam Night,” where he has regularly appeared with a vast array of prominent musicians and singers.
In addition he is a private guitar teacher and has taught numerous instructional videos on the web.
Howie recently co-wrote and co-produced a new album with Soto entitled “Retribution,” which will be out Nov. 10 on Frontiers Records. This is their first album together since 2004.
The shredding is definitely going to keep coming!
For more information, vist his website at: www.howiesimon.com