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New York's Power Siblings

Illustration by Drew Friedman  

Joey, Russell & Danny Simmons

Russell Simmons, 45, is the founder of Def Jam Records. Joey "Reverend Run" Simmons, 38, is one third of Run-DMC (which recently lost D.J. Jam Master Jay) and has launched a sneaker with Russell's Phat Farm fashion label. Danny Simmons, 49, runs the Corridor Gallery in Fort Greene and with Russell is producing Def Poetry, a spoken-word performance series for HBO, coming to Broadway this week.

Was it crazy around your house?
Russell: We had the same crew then we have now. Except Danny's crew's all dead from AIDS. A lot of my crew didn't make it.
Danny: I'm ten years sober last week.
Russell: I'm twelve years sober -- except for the holidays, when I smoke and drink.
Danny: Russell came to my rescue; he really saved my life.
Russell: We took some acid together -- I made him promise he wouldn't do heroin. Run, you became a reverend around the same time your brothers got sober.
Run: I did what everybody else did. You know, I smoked a lot of weed; at the end of it, I was unfulfilled like everybody else and I went to church.
Who's in charge?
Run: I'm the spiritual leader.
Danny: I'm the creative leader. Russell's the business leader.
Russell: Joey's the leading kid-maker.
Run: I got five kids.
Russell: I got my second one. I'm catching up to him.
Run: I'm the youngest, but I'm the grown man.
Danny: When our mother died, Russell was a mess, I was a mess -- Joey took over and made everything flow right.
Russell: I learned something about that experience. People who have faith are not so afraid of death.

Related Stories:
The Mix Master (May 1999)
Russell Simmons: Hip-Hop Honcho (April 1998)