Albums

Al Simmons Timeline

1948: Born Albert William Simmons in Winnipeg Manitoba to Scottish and Romanian parents. He has a doting older sister, Betty. Young Albert practices singing and playing a maraca. A talent he is later to perfect.

1949: Plays his first piano concert. He doesn't forget a single note.... he does forget something else.

1950: Learns to play the harmonica and practices smashing pot lids together at the same time. When he marches around the front yard the neighbours decide that he should be the drum major instead.

1952: Brother Robert is born. The family gets a pet chicken.

1953: The family gets a pet rabbit. When his Dad brings pieces of a defunct Santa Claus Parade float home Albert begins a long love affair with giant props.

1955: The family gets a pet skunk

1957: Gives his first concert. Standing on a table in his back yard Al plays his harmonica for his friends and gets a moderate response. He then plays Oh Susanna with his nose. His stature with the neighbourhood kids improves greatly - one of his peers is so impressed that he gives Albert a nickel.

1957-69: Albert drops out of professional show business to complete his education.

1957: Simmons family gets a TV set and Al is inspired watching the novelty acts on the Ed Sullivan Show. Gets a pet dog named Bullet.

1958: Al teaches himself to play the snare drum and bugle and leads the local kids on a parade into his back yard where he puts on a circus.

1958: Two pet hamsters.

1959: Al attaches his sister's metal wheel roller skates to the bottom of a piece of plywood with a coat hanger wire. By lying on his stomach on the board he is able to roll around the basement rec-room floor by pushing off the walls. To this day his cousin Margaret maintains that if he had only thought to stand up he would have invented the skateboard. His Mother maintains that sacrificing the brand new linoleum floor was a small price to pay to encourage his creativity.

1959-62: Al publishes a monthly family newspaper and mails it to all of his relatives. After a cataract operation the big headline in one issue is "OPERATION A SUCCESS - Grandma can see."

1960: Al's passion for dressing up in costumes is not just limited to Halloween. With his Dad's encouragement Al collects and constructs many disguises.

1961: Joins Air Cadets and meets Cpl. Fred Penner while walking home after a Parade.

1962: Al discovers the great musical potential of the springy doorstopper. He becomes a closet spring doorstopper player. His research into using them as musical instruments is to continue for 30 years before he finally masters them and receives accolades from around the world.

Al's father is presented with the City of Winnipeg Community Service Award (#153) for outstanding leadership in the field of Community Service, by Mayor Stephen Juba.

1968: Al works as a gas jockey. And relentlessly practices the spring doors stopper. His father buys him a guitar and Al begins to practice.

1969: Al is appointed Second Lieutenant in Her Majesty's Canadian Armed (Air) Forces.

Al works as a wheel-abrader operator at Dominion Bridge and then a clerk at Manitoba Hydro. He begins entering talent contests singing, dancing and doing comedy.

Al is asked to be a Vaudeville sytle baggy-pants-comedian and provide comic releif between bands in Len Andree's fundraiser for the Cancer Society at the Pantages Playhouse historic VaudevilleTheatre.

1970: Al quits his job at Manitoba Hydro and joins the rock band Just Us Three. The band features Bob Peters a multi-instrumentalist who plays an organ with a home-made Leslie speaker. Bob constructed it in one afternoon using a record player turntable, bicycle gear changing cable, a cottage cheese container and a red plastic stadium horn. Al begins a long love affair with gadgets.

1971: Al forms his own comedy rock and roll band Out To Lunch. Besides playing cowbell and singing heavy rock music Al, dances, plays washboard and, uses props and costumes and a microphone with a 100-foot cable to take his comedy into the audience. A Boy Named Sue, Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, Admiral Halsley/Uncle Albert and other current hit songs are targets of his gentle satire. He dresses as a construction worker, mad sea captain, enraged cowboy and Hawaiian dancer. He buys a banjo, learns two chords and plays it on stage that night.

1972: Al invents The Exploding Toilet Seat and meets his future wife Barbara Freundl.

1972: On stage, during a performance, Al pushes the button to ignite The Exploding Toilet Seat... and... nothing happens. Like Wile E. Coyote - Al looks in to see what the problem is.... as he pushes the button. Word of the crazy antics of this new entertainer spreads like fallout from a surprise explosion. The band became an instant local favourite. It takes a few weeks for Al's eyebrows to grow back. Barbara wonders what she has got into.

1973: Al Forms a new band and hires his old Air Cadet friend Fred Penner to play lead guitar. Fred teaches Al ten new chords on the banjo, Including diminished and augmented chords. Doug Bissett, the drummer, claims that Al always seems to be searching for, or stalking corny jokes —so the band should be called CornStalk. Norm Andrews, the original bass player, leaves the band and is replaced by Bob King, and Speedy Jackson joins the band on fiddle. Drummer Doug doesn't want his picture to appear in any promo because he is using a union card he borrowed from his friend K.G. Al uses a photo of Doug's son Brad when he commissions his high-school buddy Ernie Curtis to do a pencil sketch of the band.

1973: Doug Bissett reveals his fear of flying as out-of-town gigs appear on the horison. Mike Klym begins drumming with the band and the Kornstock - Comedy troupe is complete.

1973-76
: Kornstock tours Canada performing in clubs, at festivals and on TV. A Sesame Street take-off is one of their most popular routines. Al plays the part of Grover and Fred is Cookie Monster.

1974
: After years of being The Easter Bunny for the downtown Hudson's Bay department store, Al gets the top job in the establishment: Bay Man!

1975
: Uncle Al performs as a clown at birthday parties and department stores. Al does not participate in any bank robberies.

1976: Al marries Barbara Freundl and drops out of show business. They live in a train car in the Manitoba bush with no electricity or running water. They have two pets; a three legged dog and a black cat that can wiggle it's left or right ear on command.

1977: Bart Bourne, an eccentric junk genius, builds a wooden performance box and convinces Al to stand in it at Winnipeg's Old Market Square. Al becomes: "The Amazing, Perplexing, Sensational, Neat: Human Juke Box" (two bits a laugh). Watch The Human Juke Box on YouTube

1979: Al invents the Upright, Bb, 4 bell, 9 valve baritone, Simbonium out of two broken trumpets, a duck call, and a baritone horn (that was run over by a truck). It will take the next few years of constant practice before Al masters his ambitious goal - playing the 1812 Overture SOLO.

Al works with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for the first time.

1980: Al becomes the one-man-house-band at Winnipeg's Royal Albert Arms.

Al runs for political office for the Rhino Party. He tells the electorate: "Higher taxes? Higher unemployment? Higher inflation? Hire Me?" If elected he promises: "To create a cartel of the worlds snow producing countries, call it 'Snow-pec', and export snow to cool down the Middle East conflict.  " He proposed the construction of 7-foot high tables for the House of Commons so that more business could be done underneath them." He compares his political career to a little known fact about the Planet Earth - "We were both flattened at the poles"

Al entertains the premiers of all of Canada's Provinces at the 1980 First Minister's Conference.

Al lends his voice to Bob Dog and other animated characters in Brad Caslor's NFB animation Bob Dog Gets A Job. Brad Caslor designs a T-shirt for Al. Watch Bob Dog Get A Job.

1981: Barbara gives birth to their first son Karl. Al and Barb co-star in a CTV series All For Fun. The show runs for two years —36 one-hour episodes. Barb nurses baby Karl in the newsroom between takes.

Al meets fellow vaudevillian Tomas Kubinek (inspiration and co-writer of The Lonely Moose Lament)


Raffi records Al's song "Something In My Shoe."

1982: Al performs on Sesame Street.

1983: Al invents Distant Early Warning Jogging Shoes. To be worn in conjunction with quilted wings and Goose Decoy hat.

1983: Al stars in the Tom Cone's one-man show Herringbone at the Warehouse Theatre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

1984: In his prairie laboratory Al invents the horse-cycle. Half horse and half bicycle, named Ol' Spoke. Barbara gives birth to another baby boy, named William. Al is now a Pa De Deux.

1984 & 85: Al is the writer and host of CBC TV's Fabulous Festival —12 episodes videotaped at the Vancouver International Children's Festival. In one scene Al shows Raffi his imitation of an electric guitar player.

1985: Al stars in a Winnipeg Film Group short, directed by Sheldon Oberman, about his Horse-cycle Ol' Spoke He invents the porta-bath. A bathtub that he wears around his waist so he can bathe while walking around. It comes equipped with a working shower and a ukulele scrub brush.

1986: Al develops "A One Man Cast of Thousands" and performs 2 shows a day 6 days a week for 7 months at Expo `86 in Vancouver B.C

1987: Al signs a deal to record an album with Oak Street Music. Al perfects the springy doorstopper piano.

1988: Barbara gives birth to their third child Bradley. Another boy, "Boy, oh boy, oh boy." Al performs the 1812 Overture Solo with the Winnipeg Symphony. On his Upright, Bb, 4 bell, 9 valve, baritone Simbonium. Al tours to Hong Kong and Australia.

1989: Al invents the Parisian Cafe in a suitcase. Touring takes Al to San Diego and Singapore.

1990: Begins collaborating with producer Ken Whiteley to record an album.

1990: During one of the worst mosquito infestations in Manitoba history an ever-curious Al begins a study of the insects.

1991: Touring takes Al from Iqaluit NWT to Hong Kong. During a summer camping holiday with his family Al notices his son Bradley's passion for rocks and pens the lyrics to I Collect Rocks "I pick up every rock I find, to me a gravel road is a gold mine."

1992: Al works with director Susan Cox and premiers his one man show "Victim of Vaudeville."

Ken Whiteley produces and Oak Street Music releases his first album: Something's Fishy at Camp Wiganishie. It is nominated for a Juno Award. Ken creates a melody for Al's poem I Collect Rocks.

1992: Discovers and tames the smoking smoked salmon fish and the dangerous Pyro-piranha.

Henry Less directs and videotapes a music video based on Al's songs Counting Feathers and I Collect Rocks. Gilles Paquin is Exec. Producer and Vonnie Von Helmolt is the boss of production — and she drives the bus. Kim Forest is the set designer. 10 year old Karl Simmons got to drop a load of rocks on his dad and roll a giant rock around using a pitch fork stuck into the back of it as a handel. The Rocks video is shot in various locations around Manitoba including Bird's Hill, Tyndall and Grand Beach. The Feathers set was constructed in the B. A. Robinson plumbing warehouse. Ross is Al's buddy they first met each other in Grade 9

1993: Al makes his debut as a saw player for the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. Simmons family adopts the runt of a litter of kittens. She turns out to be a virtuoso pianist. Tours Chicago, New York and St. Louis

1993: Al finds a super carrot growing in his garden and Al is inspired to write Vegetation Migration.

1994: Al takes his show to Oklahoma City, Yellowknife, Philadelphia and Los Angeles but he is inspired to write The Never Ending Road after taking a wrong turn and getting lost in Manitoba's Riding Mountain National Park. He convinces Peter Warren of CJOB radio to be the voice of the weather announcer.

Al receives a coveted Cable Ace Award nomination for his music video I Collect Rocks.

1995: Al's second album: Celery Stalks At Midnight is released. Featuring a song detailing the life cycle of a mosquito. He travels to Prince George B.C. and views the legendary statue of Mr. P. G. He begins writing the song of the same on the tour bus back to his hotel.

Bryan Adamsplays a surprise guitar solo in the middle of Al's show.

1996: Al wins the Juno for "Celery Stalks..." he is forced to keep his "If I win a Juno I will..." promises for example: PROMISE #7. I will eat 275 stalks of celery in 7 1/2 minutes breaking the all time world record of 212 stalks in 10 minutes.

Simmons family takes in a stray blind dog that becomes fond of playing with a bowling ball.

How much does Al Simmons earn?

1997: Oak Street Music releases Al’s third album "The Truck I Bought From Moe" produced by Ken Whiteley.

In collaboration with composer in residence Randolph Peters, Al writes the libretto for the opera Il Pollo Diavollo (A 2 act opera in 10 Minutes Including Intermission) and premiers it at the Winnipeg Symphony's New Music Festival. Tracy Dahl is featured as `The Soprano' and trombone player John Helmer portrays 'The Lamp.'

"Only Alphonso knew of the fate that could befall him, for he was the victim of an evil curse, cast years ago, by a demonic Kentucky Colonel."

Al becomes a published author as Long Street Press and White Cap Books Canada releases a hard cover edition of Counting Feathers. Illustrated by Brian Floca. Listen to Al read the book.

Al finds out that the name of the lead character in the movie Spawn is Al Simmons. In fact the first line spoken in the movie is "Al Simmons is the best." Al makes a statement to Morley Walker of the Winnipeg Free Press: "I have shared the name Simmons with a silver-screen siren from the 50's, a curly-haired fitness guru in short-shorts, a painted-faced rock singer with a long tongue, and a Beauty-Rest™ Mattress. Sharing it with a comic book creature from hell shouldn't be a problem."

1998
: "The Truck I Bought From Moe" is nominated for a Juno.

Counting Feathers
is shortlisted for the McNally-Robinson "Best Children's Book of 1998".

1999: Al invents the twirling ping-pong ball helmet and begins a two year search for an alunminum kitchen pot in a size 7 3/8.

2000: Al becomes the only person in the world to be seriously affected by the Y2K Bug on New Years Eve, when he accidentally knocks over his computer while bringing in the new linoleum.

2001: Al uses the contents of a kitchen drawer to build his "Supper-time hat."

2002: As well as finding a use for his single socks - Al builds a new hat. "Now how I came to build this hat is very strange and funny. I'm always trying to find new ways to save my time and money. To stretch a buck I find it helps to think outside the box. See look I found a new way that I can dry my socks."

2002: Al writes a song about his home-town of Anola, Manitoba, Canada for CBC Radio. He performs it live on the air with the Anola School Choir, the D. Rangers and The Duhks (The Deranged Duhks)


2003: Al becomes an Ambassador for UNESCO - the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization - and their Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet).

Al finally gets his 12 minutes of fame! He is involved in a four-day film shoot at Winnipeg Beach and in Gimli, Manitoba. The finished production is a "mini movie" called (Winter Tales) "The Christmas Orange".

Al creates a video to raise awareness about the Native Orchids of Manitoba.

2004: Al appeared as Frog in the Manitoba Theatre for Young People’s production of “A Year With Frog and Toad.” Based on Arnold Lobel’s great books. His co-stars were four very talented people: Steve Ross (Toad), Geoffrey Tyler (Snail), Jan Skeen (Turtle), and Jennifer Villaverde (Mouse). Directed by Jim Warren, musical director Marek Norman, choreography Brenda Gorlick. Amphibians to the back of the bus please.

2004: The Rotary Club recognizes Al as an advocate of world peace and international understanding, naming him a Paul Harris Fellow.

2005: Al takes a bite out of the competition and wins the World Championship Zucchini Race at the Creston Valley BC Fall Fair.

A Year With Frog and Toad goes to Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre “Frog and Toad are played winningly here by Al Simmons and Steve Ross. The simple affection between the two amphibious heroes turns out to be a more than strong enough emotional thread to hold it all together. At a brisk, charming 90 minutes, this Year passes by all too quickly.” Vue Weekly Edmonton. Al and Steve as Frog and Toad are voted Best Comedy Duo of 2005 by the citizens fo Edmonton.

Al is the subject of Denis Greenox's CBC radio documentary.

He releases his first DVD "I Collect Rocks."

Al writes a song and records a music video to draw attention to the largest intact boreal forest in the World.

2006: He tours from Alaska to California and Vancouver to Mariposa performing with symphony orchestras and at folkfestivals and schools.

2007: Al writes a song and records a music video for his firefighter friend Shane Ferguson to show kids they shouldn't be afraid of a firefighter in full gear.  Shane told Al that instead of calling out for help, a lot of kids hide when they see a firefighter searching a burning building. The sound of the breathing apparatus and the look of Darth Vader would scare any 4 year-old.

Al writes a second verse for the IM4U Eye Chart Song. He designs GIYQ Post Cards and has them printed at Vertical Thinking.

Al becomes a book reviewer.

Al joins his pal Blair MacLean for an evening of fun at Rumor's Comedy Caberet in Winnipeg.

He visits his old pal Mr. P.G. in Prince George B.C and tours theatres in Hong Kong.

Al writes the words and Claude Lapalm writes the music for A Tuba For Christmas. The song is premiered with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.

2008: Al appears
at Seattle's Moisture Festival with all of his Vaudeville buddies.

He records a song for his young friend Taj Reveen "The 9-11 Fly Boy." He tours Louisiana where he writes Aligator Teeth.

Al is nominated as one of the Greatest Manitobans. Artist James Culliton draws 35 of them.

Sabrosa Restaurant in Anola, Manitoba names a menu item after Al: “The Al Simmons Hot Dog.”

2009: Al laces up his red wing-tip shoes for the Dancing with Celebrities competition in support of the Society For Manitobans With Disabilities Foundation and Easter Seals Manitoba. His choreographer and dance partner is the amazing Jennifer West.

Al creates a show based on The Barber of Seville. He plays all the parts.

Avation Museum

2010:
Al is named Man of the Month by Creative Architect Dolly Hopkins.

Al becomes a Companion of The Order Of The Rubber Chicken at the Moisture Festival in Seattle Washington for having delivered the highest degree of hilarity to humanity on the international scene. He is inducted by The Most Important Potentate, Steven Smith.

Al's Human Jukebox becomes part of a Manitoba Museum display
.

2011: Al has a song written about a technique that he developed. “Al, your case-making method is so outstandingly unique and clever it truly deserved a song.” —Ralph Shaw. Look half-way down Ralph's Blog to see the lyrics and a link to the video.

A CBC Traffic reporter mentioned that the Winnipeg Perimeter Highway was slippery —because thousands of worms had crawled onto the road after a heavy rain. Later that day Al checks his van. OH NO... a windshield viper!

When Gene Simmons of KISS fame is awarded the Key To Winnipeg Al is asked to write a blog for CBC radio.

A defunct satellite the size of a School Bus was expected to crash land somewhere on Earth on September 23rd. NASA said there was a one-in-75-trillion chance of being hit by a piece of it. LOOK WHAT LANDED IN AL'S GARDEN!

Al creates a crazy percussion instrument out of a baloon and a nut in his Indiana hotel room.

2012: Al appears in the Winnipeg Jazz Festival Concert Series with his very talented friends Greg Lowe, Ron Paley and Daniel Koulack.

When Al tells his friends that he is going to Tryon, North Carolina they say, "Gee, I hope it fits."

Al appears at the Seattle Moisture Festival for the 3rd time. His face appears on a billboard in Seattle's Fremont District. Fremont's motto is "De Libertas Quirkas" which means "Freedom to be Peculiar." Al fits right in.

In Manitoba it is Spring and we are ready for anything.

Al is appointed to the Order of Manitoba by Lt. Governor Phillip S Lee. Watch the video —att the 2:30 minute mark Al can no longer contain his enthusiasm.

Al is invited to join The Staple Singers and proudly sings with Mavis Staples on the main stage of the Regina Folk Festival.


The Harvest Moon Festival audience in Clearwater, Manitoba convinces Master of Ceremonies Al Simmons to crowd surf. No one is injured.

A l re-mounts his Figaro's Close Shave show for the Manitoba Opera Association and adds a few new props, costumes and songs.

Al shares the King's Head stage as a guest on the Shaw TV talk show Week Thus Far.

Al becomes a Salsbury House Hero.

2013: Al appears at the Elko Nevada Cowboy Poetry Gathering as part of Sourdough Slim's Wild & Wooly Review.

Prince Edward Island in Canada vs. the island of Cuba.

Figaro's Close Shave ~The Barber of Seville Styled by Al Simmons headlines at the historic Opera House in Waterville Kansas.

Al is captivated by a five cent pocketbook.

Al once again joins his Vaudeville/Varietè pals for Seattle's Moisture Festival.

Las Vegas Nevada April 12 vs. Anola Manitoba April 13.

Al and Susu Robin put on a 1900 gold rush style comedy show at the Palace Grand Theatre in Dawson City Yukon.

Al's piano playing Yukon pal Susu Robin joins him at the Regina Folk Festival.

Al sleeps like a log. Falling asleep in the forest on peaceful Hornby Island B.C. is as easy as...

Al mounts a Christmas theatrical extravaganza at the Manitoba Theatre for Young People in Winnipeg. Home for the Holidays features Mousey (puppeteer Theresa Thompson) with Michael McKay on piano.

Lady Gaga has a team of costume designers but Al Simmons was born this way (Home For The Holidays at MTYP)

2014: The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra honours Al Simmons at its annual Spring Achievement Awards Dinner.

Al decides his name needs more ink so he gets some piercings.

The Winnipeg Folk Festival commissions an Al Simmons 3D photo instalation.

Al realizes that he has spent so much time thinking about his past that he has forgotten to live his life today.



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