Who Was Bob Hate?

Bob in 1997
photo by Danny Nowlan
William Robert Simmons was born – or so they say – in 1958 in Bossier City, Louisiana, during the hottest summer in history. We know little of his boyhood, and what we do know is likely apocryphal.

As a teenager he started writing songs, and his first musical adventures were with a band called Grand Theft Otto. In his twenties he played in a few more bands, changing his own name as often as his bands changed lineups. He was Bobby Wheels for a time, and then Bobby Arizona. And then when he moved to Dallas in his late twenties, he became – simply – Bob Hate.

The story of those days has been told often, but hardly anybody knows how much of it all was true.

But in his early 40s he disappeared off the map. There were stories that he had moved to Florida, started touring folks at a glass-bottomed boat place. Some said he was dead.

In 2003 the “Like a King” CD got released. It contained some of his solo material alongside mid 90s recordings he did with the Eddy Band. There was a poorly sourced rumor that some of the unreleased tracks on the disc were new. Was Bob Hate actually alive? Did it matter?

Then in 2007 he re-emerged. He was living at the time in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and for about 18 months he began writing with longtime bandmates and pals Chet Hix and Stephen Thomas. Together with Eddy Band alums Dave Lemonds and Buck Rudo, the group re-formed for some Nashville recording sessions.

That period got chronicled earlier this year on “Wreckerman,” a collection of all new material, and “Six Foot Length of Rope,” a 16 track best-of that also collected some old Dallas-era songs from the group.

But the reunion broke up badly – how could it not?

I saw Bob briefly during this time and he looked exactly like Wilford Brimley after Tom Cruise kicked the shit out of him in that Grisham movie.

Months passed and on a whim I drove back to New Mexico to his compound up in the Sandia foothills. He wasn’t there, but an old guy answered the door. He said he was an old friend of Bob’s, and that Bob had suspected I’d come around again.

“He was just here,” the old man said, pointing at the desert floor under our feet. “He said you’d know what to do with this.” And he handed me a box. Some photos, a portable hard drive, and the “Dear God” letter you’ll see elsewhere on this blog

On the hard drive were 45 songs, some in multiple versions and arrangements. They were all solo recordings. Some, like “Romance,” were written nearly 30 years ago, and some, like the beautiful “Silver City,” were written and recorded in his home studio in the past couple of years.

I’ll never know if I’ve done exactly the right thing, but I mixed and remastered these songs into a CD called "Imagine My Disappointment: The Very Best of Bob Hate," and many of those songs will be found elsewhere on this blog. While he was a fantastic eater and singer, he was a bastard about making you guess what was in his head and his heart. I picked the 15 tracks I thought were the best, the ones that captured whatever little magic he found in his years of writing and recording. I know I’ve gotten some of it wrong. I’m sure that if Bob Hate ever resurfaces he’ll kick the shit out of me.

I would never dare to call Bob my friend, but I always loved him and his music. I hope that wherever he is, wherever his tired and restless soul has ended up, that he’s happy. I’m not holding my breath.

As I was packing up my car and leaving Albuquerque, the old man at Bob’s house said I wouldn’t find him if I went looking, and I told him I had no intention. “He’s done what he came to do,” the old man said.

And then he closed the door on me.

June, 2010
Hector “The Brim” Torres
formerly of Torque Ramada Times