Simon's musical journey began when he first discovered the violin during his junior  school days. However, his father's old clarinet exerted a powerful allure on him, leading him to switch instruments and pursue clarinet lessons. With remarkable progress, he achieved Grade 8 by the age of twelve. At fourteen, Simon delved into the world of saxophone, and within the same year, he landed his first paid performances. In his music college years, while pursuing a classical music degree, he immersed himself in jazz, spending his days studying Stravinsky and his nights captivating audiences with the sounds of Charlie Parker in London's vibrant clubs.

Presently, Simon holds the esteemed position of Saxophone Professor for the Royal Marines and British Army, where his reputation is defined by his remarkable versatility and instrumental mastery. His exceptional playing can be heard in a plethora of mediums, including advertisements, film scores, television and radio shows, theme tunes, and popular recordings. Throughout his career, Simon has collaborated with a multitude of notable artists spanning various genres. From Jamie Cullum to Kylie Minogue, Elvis Costello to Dizzee Rascal, Lulu to Chaka Khan, Seal to Alfie Boe, John Dankworth to Cleo Laine, Steve Gadd to The London Concert Orchestra, and the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band—his musical partnerships have been diverse and extensive. Additionally, Simon has served as the musical director for esteemed vocalists such as Rick Astley, Alexander Armstrong, and Bette Midler, showcasing his leadership skills. Notably, he has also conducted performances with the BBC Singers and the Orchestra of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. In addition to leading his own Big Band, Simon actively performs with several smaller ensembles.

Recognised for his exceptional talent, Simon Bates proudly represents Yamaha Custom Saxophones, BG Music Products, and Vandoren Reeds as an endorsed artist.