Russell Wendell Simmons was born in the Hollis neighborhood of New York City's Queens borough on October 4, 1957. He was raised in Maryland. His father was a public school administrator and his mother was a park administrator for the New York City Parks and Recreation Department. His brothers are painter Daniel Simmons, Jr. and Joseph Simmons (better known as Rev Run of Run-DMC fame). In 1975, after graduating from August Martin High School, Simmons briefly attended the City College of New York in Harlem where he met a young DJ/Bboy, Kurt Walker, who influenced him to participate in the hip hop phenomenon. Upon hearing Eddie Cheeba perform in Harlem in 1977, Simmons knew that hip hop would be his career. Simmons stated, "Hearing Cheeba in '77 made me feel like I had just witnessed the invention of the wheel. "