Community members and music lovers gathered on Saturday, June 21, to pay tribute to the late Charles E. “Chuck” Simons with a ceremony honoring his role on and off the Murray State University campus. The ceremony celebrated the installation of a bronze relief tablet placed on the façade of Matt B’s Pizza, which was previously Simons’ Chuck’s Music Center.
First coming to Murray as an undergraduate in 1941, Simons put his education on hold to serve three years in WWII. Upon his return he continued to play in several local bands and was part owner of Sellars Leach Dance Band featuring “Chuck Simons, Master of the Drums.”
Simons first opened the music center on Murray’s downtown Court Square in 1949. As the university campus grew so did Simons’ faculty/student customer base, which led him and his wife, Barbara, to relocate the shop to 1411 Main St. in the late 1950s. Before its closing in 1989, the shop served as the hub of MSU’s student music scene, being referred to as a “local landmark.” At the new location Simons continued teaching music while also becoming the university’s first percussion professor, a position he held for approximately 10 years.
Barbara Simons was “overwhelmed” by the honoring of her late husband, “I am so touched that after 20 years he is being remembered in such a wonderful way,” said Simons.
The two method books written by Simons, “Happy Drumming with a Beat” and “Wire Brush Technique,” made him known throughout the country for his percussion skills and teaching. It’s that reputation that Dr. Roger Reichmuth, retired Murray State music faculty member, hopes to represent with the new plaque and the growth of the Chuck Simons Scholarship Fund.
Reichmuth, as many do, remembers Chuck Simons fondly. “Chuck was such a colorful character, definitely type A personality. From his first days on campus he was involved in the music community, and his shop became an important place for Murray State’s music students,” said Reichmuth.
After teaming up with several community members and old friends of Simons’, including Ron McKeel of Plano, Texas, and John Darnall of Nashville, Tenn., $1,500 was raised to purchase the plaque. To help keep Chuck’s memory alive, you can make a gift to the Chuck Simons Scholarship Fund, which has awarded percussion students aid toward their musical education since its start in 1989. Checks may be sent to the MSU Office of Development, 200 Heritage Hall, Murray, KY 42071. Checks should be made payable to the MSU Foundation denoting the Chuck Simons Scholarship Fund in the memo section.