Scope and Contents
The John “Zoot” Sims Papers primarily documents his professional career as a musician, and his legacy. The materials include contracts, sheet music, photographs, correspondence, newspaper articles, and periodicals. Most of the correspondence concerns release rights, and requests for information about Zoot’s relationships with musicians, such as Joe Venuti. The Zoot Sims
Scholarship and his continued legacy at The New School in New York City are documented by news clippings and programs. Photographs include shots of Sims alone, with other musicians, and with family. Of note are manuscript lead sheets of Johnny Mandel compositions. Some of the materials in this collection were collected by Sims’s wife after her husband’s death.
1940 - 2011
Majority of material found within 1974 - 2006
Biographical / Historical
Born in Inglewood, Calif., John Haley Sims (b. October 29, 1925 – d. March 23, 1985) began his professional music career at a young age playing drums and clarinet in a group with three of his five brothers: Bob on trumpet; Gene on guitar; and Ray, who later became a well-known trombonist, on tuba. Their parents, Pete and Kate, were vaudeville performers.
Sims got the nickname Zoot at random at age 15 while playing in Kenny Baker’s group. He later toured with Bobby Sherwood’s orchestra before playing with Benny Goodman, with whom he would play frequently over the years. Sims served in the Army stateside from 1944 to 1946. After the war, he played again for Benny Goodman before playing with Woody Herman’s Second Heard in the saxophone section known as Four Brothers. After leaving Herman’s group in 1949, Sims played with the Benny Goodman Sextet. In 1962, Sims played again with Benny Goodman as part of Goodman’s Russian tour and as part of his Australian tour in 1973.
While playing with Herman, Sims met Al Cohn with whom he would later form a long friendship and partnership. Cohn and Zoot formed a group in 1957 and played together frequently until Sims’s death.
Sims married Louise Choo in 1970. He died in New York City on March 23, 1985.
4 Linear Feet (One box, one oversize box, one oversize folder)
Language of Materials