Paris, after World War II, was a different city.
"Paris wasn't on its feet," he said. "It wasn't on its feet in 1949. It really didn't come back until the late 1960s."
People were broke, but the crowds still came out.
"The places I worked were packed every night," he said. "People were glad the war was over."
They just had less money to spend, and Simmons believes Bricktop didn't know how to cater to this more frugal audience.
"Drinks at Bricktop's were a little too expensive for the ordinary folks and for the travelers who came in," he said. "She was used to catering to the royalty and the upper classes."
That kind of crowd just wasn't around like they had been, and Simmons believes that probably led her to close her last Paris club in the 1950s.
"If she could have hung on," he said, "I think she'd have seen the turnaround."
Instead, Bricktop opened a club in Rome and remained there until her "retirement" in 1961. While she didn't own any clubs, she continued to perform well into her 80s. She died in 1984 at the age of 89.
West Virginia Music Hall of Fame induction
WHERE: Culture Center Theater
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16
TICKETS: $60. VIP tickets $200, includes meet and greet and governor's reception.
INFO: 304-342-4412 or www.wvmusichalloffame.com
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.