John Haley "Zoot" Sims was born in Inglewood, California.
Growing up in a vaudeville family, Sims learned to play both
drums and clarinet at an early age. His father was a
vaudeville hoofer, and Sims prided himself on remembering
many of the steps his father taught him.
Following in the footsteps of Lester Young, Sims developed
into an innovative tenor saxophonist. Throughout his career,
he played with renowned bands, including Benny Goodman,
Artie Shaw, Stan Kenton, and Buddy Rich. Sims was also
one of Woody Herman's "Four Brothers", and he was
among his peers as one of the strongest swingers in the
Sims frequently led his own combos and sometimes toured
with his friend Gerry Mulligan's sextet, and later with
Mulligan's Concert Jazz Band