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Judith Sims

Judith Sims

From the beginning of her journalism career, Judith Sims was in a unique position. In 1964, Capitol Records created The Teen Set, a teen focused promotional tool exclusively featuring Capitol artists. By 1965, after two successful issues, Capitol decided to establish TeenSet as a monthly magazine which was no longer exclusive to their artists. With this new venture, Capitol also released control of the magazine to the Kimtex corporation, where music-loving Judith Sims was employed as a secretary. At 25 years-old and with little-to-no experience in journalism (beyond contributing to staff reports in her college newspaper), Sims was handed the editorial reins of TeenSet.

Throughout her term with TeenSet, there was little input from Capitol and infrequent oversight from the various publishers, leaving Sims to include musicians and cultural events which piqued her interest. This editorial role enabled a deep involvement in popular music and cultural scenes allowing her to frequent Hollywood's Sunset Strip, rub elbows with many preeminent figures and musicians such as, Derek Taylor, Photographer Jim Marshall, Frank Zappa, Janis Joplin, and the Beach Boys. Her intimate coverage of the Beatles is especially of note. In 1966, she joined the Beatles for their U.S. tour, and in 1967, she spent time in EMI's Abbey Road Studio Two during the recording of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band. Sims reported first-hand what was happening on the 1960s fading Hollywood and the blossoming San Francisco Scenes, and consistently featured the Swinging London Scene contributed by Carol Gold. Her reporting of popular music and culture was cutting-edge, including early features of many up-and-coming musicians such as Buffalo Springfield (a personal favorite of Sims) and a full 16-page photo spread (by Jim Marshall and Bruce McBroom) of the Monterey Pop Festival. Ultimately, with TeenSet, Sims navigated a changing musical landscape of the mid-to-late 1960s, and, as the editor, Judith Sims became a pioneering popular music journalist.

During her tenure at TeenSet and into the mid-1970s, Sims moonlighted for the British publication, Disc and Music Echo (later Disc) magazine. After the collapse of TeenSet (renamed AUM for the final three issues) in 1969, Sims was recruited by colleague Ben Fong-Torres to write for Rolling Stone. She wrote many articles for Rolling Stone considering Hendrix, the Beatles, the Who, Tim Buckley, and more. By the 1980s, Sims wrote for The Times, Washington Post, collaborated on small one-off teen publications, and in the 1990s, worked as assistant editor of the L.A. Times before she died of cancer in 1996. Sims was, and historically is, a force to be reckoned with in popular music journalism, but she is often overlooked. Although more recently, Sims and TeenSet have been briefly considered by Richard Morton Jack, Don Armstrong, and, most notably, past Rolling Stone editor Chet Flippo, in general, her role and impact is lacking from the broad popular music discourse. However, Sims, and TeenSet, is currently the focus of an upcoming academic book, and past British PhD thesis, both by Allison Bumsted, in which Sims is refocused as an invaluable contributor to 1960s culture and popular music journalism.

Biography Contributed by Allison Bumsted

12 articles

List of articles in the library

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Bonnie Raitt: Troubadours: Why Bonnie Raitt Wants a Break

Interview by Judith Sims, Rolling Stone, 9 November 1972

LOS ANGELES — "Freebo, my bass player, he's a jock, he sits in his hotel room watching football games on television." Bonnie Raitt gestured in ...

Jefferson Airplane: The Master's Grunt: Jefferson Airplane Tries Shock Rock

Report and Interview by Judith Sims, Rolling Stone, 7 December 1972

NEW YORK — At a rainy concert in Gaelic Park, a girl on stage stripped off her blouse and urged the audience to do the ...

Sir Doug Weston's Troubadour: They Hate it, but They Play it

Report and Interview by Judith Sims, Rolling Stone, 18 January 1973

LOS ANGELES — Why was Joni Mitchell recently playing the Troubadour folk club for several nights when she could play for as many people (and ...

The Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, International Submarine Band, Gram Parsons, The Rolling Stones: Ex-Byrd Gram Parsons Solos: He's No Longer in a Hurry

Interview by Judith (Judy) Sims, Rolling Stone, 1 March 1973

LOS ANGELES — Back in 1969 Gram Parsons, rhythm guitarist, keyboard player and vocalist, and Chris Ethridge, bassist, decided to form a country rock band ...

Steely Dan: Ultimate Spinach Meets Naked Lunch's Dildo

Profile and Interview by Judith Sims, Rolling Stone, 26 April 1973

LOS ANGELES — Steely Dan named itself after William Burroughs' mighty dildo in Naked Lunch. "We just wanted to give the band a little more ...

Chicago: A James William Guercio Enterprise

Report and Interview by Judith Sims, Rolling Stone, 19 July 1973

CHICAGO, THE line goes, would be a useless slag heap of Midwestern has-beens went it not for the strong hand of their producer, a young ...

Carol Kaye's Bass: Solid Gold Hitmine

Interview by Judith Sims, Rolling Stone, 22 November 1973

LOS ANGELES — Carol Kaye is one of the few successful female session musicians, certainly one of Los Angeles' finest and busiest bassists. Her list ...

Maria Muldaur: A Singer Who Has the Pipes

Interview by Judith Sims, Rolling Stone, 31 January 1974

LOS ANGELES — "Not that many people are issued good voices," said Maria Muldaur, curled up on her hotel sofa on Christmas Eve, "That's probably ...

Ann Peebles: "You're My Idol": Ann Peebles Is Next

Profile and Interview by Judith Sims, Rolling Stone, 28 February 1974

MEMPHIS — The track may be pure chooglin' Memphis: There's that Willie Mitchell/Al Green horn arrangement easing in midway, and there's that easy glide in ...

Syreeta the Wonder Woman

Interview by Judith Sims, Rolling Stone, 2 January 1975

LOS ANGELES — Her name means "sweet singer" in India; in Swahili it means "one of uniqueness, or something like that," but Syreeta Wright claims ...

Jethro Tull: Tull on top: Ian Anderson Speaks His Mind

Interview by Judith Sims, Rolling Stone, 27 March 1975

LOS ANGELES — Ian Anderson, leader of Jethro Tull, did not seem pleased, even though his group had just broken all attendance records at the ...

1967, The Summer of Love: There Was a Brief Moment When the Sun Really Shone

Memoir by Judith Sims, Los Angeles Times, 2 August 1987

I'LL GET right to the point: 1967 was one of the best years of my life. ...

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