While his playmates dreamed of pitching in the big leagues, Westside Steve Simmons was dreaming of singing at Shea Stadium.
Steve's performing career began before he was old enough to drive. Teen shows at the Eagles Hall in Carrollton, Ohio, garage gigs and dances in the 'burbs eventually led to nearly two decades as the front man for Ohio's premier rock act, the Easy Street Band, and another 20 years as a solo act favorite in the Midwest party capital, Put-In-Bay.
Three decades later, Steve's never wanted or needed a proverbial Plan B. In smoky bars, TV studios and arena stages from Quebec to Key West, he's logged road time like a vaudevillian and had more brushes with stardom than Heidi Fleiss.
Before life on Easy Street, Steve and four Norton High School friends were the Rats. A wild bunch that majored in Alice Cooper and the Rolling Stones, the band was a required course at Northeast Ohio college bars and Daytona spring break celebrations.
By the mid-1970s the Rats were also making inroads on the burgeoning Cleveland club scene. The quintet added a second vocalist, keyboards and horns around 1976 and reemerged as Easy Street. The beefed up seven piece had morphed from a raucous copy band to a seasoned touring act with its own original songs. Easy Street quickly became synonymous with the term ``pride of Cleveland'' at a time when the city was center of the known radio world.
Easy Street was the first band to play the complete chain of Agora Ballroom nightclubs. Nearly 2,000 kids crammed the Cleveland Agora Ballroom every week for the band's regular Thursday spot -- a club attendance record never topped by an unsigned band.
Easy Street's reign reached its peak in the late 1970s, but though the band was courted by the major labels, a record deal never materialized. Armed with a catalog of its own, the band eventually produced its own self-titled release. The record charted in the top 25 on WMMS, amongst heavyweights Bruce Springsteen and Robert Plant. At the time, the station was the top major market album oriented rock station in the country. Armed with their successful record, the Easy Street Band toured much of the US and Canada, sharing the stage with Meatloaf, Southside Johnny, Tom Petty, .38 Special, Gregg Allman and others.
The band is still so closely identified with the glory days of rock and roll that Easy Street memorabilia is now part of the set of the Drew Carey show. Keep an eye out for band bumper stickers on Carey's refrigerator and an ESB hat and album on the juke box at Carey's TV watering hole the Warsaw Tavern.
After a raise in the legal drinking age closed many of the rock capital's venerable clubs, Steve reached the end of Easy Street. He decided to move on alone.
While Steve compiled material for the solo show, he also spent the first free time of his career exploring other avenues of the entertainment business.
In the 1990s, Steve was a savvy, cinematic voice of reason as film critic for Scene magazine. Steve also returned to the studio for a different kind of recording, as the lead vocal for commercial jingles, he's been the voice of the Chicago Cubs, a Fortune 500 company and the state Idaho.
Steve is now widely known as the Skipper of the Lake Erie Booze Patrol. 2009 marks Steve's 21st year on Put In Bay. Two years after his first solo show at the Boardwalk, he landed a spot as the Crescent Tavern's daytime anchor. At the Crescent, his quick wit, encyclopedic song list of country, classic rock and Irish pub standards and marathon stage shows have made him an Island favorite.
Over the years, Steve's also become something of an ambassador for island life -- For the last two years, he's helped introduce the pleasures of Put-In-Bay to viewers of Fox 8 Television with segments on Neil Zurcher's ``One Tank Trip'' and as a favorite go-to guy on the channel's morning news show. Each spring and fall, Steve can be found on another island when he plays Rick's Bar in Key West, but when Erie warms look for him on the outdoor stage of the Crescent's patio bar.