Simon & Garfunkel
were an American music duo consisting of singer-songwriter Paul Simon and singer Art Garfunkel (both born in 1941). They formed the group Tom & Jerry in 1957 and had their first success with the minor hit "Hey, Schoolgirl". As Simon & Garfunkel, the duo rose to fame in 1965, largely on the strength of the hit single "The Sound of Silence". Their music was featured in the landmark film The Graduate
(1967), propelling them further into the public consciousness.They are well known for their vocal harmonies and were among the most popular recording artists of the 1960s. Their biggest hits – including "The Sound of Silence" (1964), "I Am a Rock" (1965), "Homeward Bound" (1965), "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" (1966), "A Hazy Shade of Winter" (1966), "Mrs. Robinson" (1968), "Bridge over Troubled Water" (1969), "The Boxer" (1969), and "Cecilia" (1969) – reached number one in several charts. They have received several Grammy Awards and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2007.Their sometimes rocky relationship led to their last album, Bridge over Troubled Water,
being delayed several times due to artistic disagreements, and as a result the duo broke up in 1970. It was their most successful album worldwide to date, reaching number one in several countries, including the United States, and receiving 8× platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America, making it their highest-selling studio album in the U.S. and second-highest album overall. Simon & Garfunkel have, at times, reunited to perform and sometimes tour together. They have done so in every decade since the 1970 breakup, most famously for 1981's "The Concert in Central Park", which attracted more than 500,000 people, making it the 7th-most attended concert in the history of music. In 2004, they were ranked No. 40 on Rolling Stone
's list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.Early historyClose friends through childhood, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel grew up in the predominantly Jewish neighborhood Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, New York, just three blocks away from each other. They met in elementary school in 1953, when they both appeared in the school play Alice in Wonderland
(Simon as the White Rabbit, Garfunkel as the Cheshire Cat). They were classmates at Parsons Junior High School and Forest Hills High School, and began performing together in their junior year as Tom and Jerry, with Simon as Jerry Landis and Garfunkel as Tom Graph (names they were given by the recording studio).The duo began writing their own songs in 1955, and made their first professional recording, "Hey, Schoolgirl," for Sid Prosen of Big Records in 1957. Released on 45 rpm and 78 rpm records, with the flip-side song "Dancin' Wild," the recording sold 100,000 copies, hitting No. 49 on the Billboard
charts. Both Simon and Garfunkel have acknowledged the tremendous impact of the Everly Brothers on their style, and many of their early songs (including "Hey, Schoolgirl") bear the mark of this influence.They later performed their hit on Dick Clark's American Bandstand,
right after Jerry Lee Lewis performed "Great Balls of Fire."Subsequent efforts in 1958 did not reach near their initial success, and after high school the duo went to separate colleges, with Simon enrolling at Queens College and Garfunkel at Columbia University. While enrolled in college, they both joined their campus chapters of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.In 1963, they found prominence as part of the Greenwich Village folk music scene. Simon, who had finished college but dropped out of Brooklyn Law School, had — like Garfunkel — developed an interest in the folk scene. Simon showed Garfunkel a few songs that he had written in the folk style: "Sparrow," "Bleecker Street," and "He Was My Brother," which was later dedicated to Andrew Goodman, a friend of both Simon and Garfunkel and a classmate of Simon's at Queens College, who was one of three civil rights workers murdered in Neshoba County, Mississippi, on June 21, 1964.These three efforts were among five original songs by Simon included on their first album for Columbia Records, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.,
which initially flopped upon its release on October 19, 1964.
Shortly after finishing recording, the duo split and Simon moved to the United Kingdom, where he performed at Les Cousins and the Troubadour in London and toured provincial folk clubs. While in England, he recorded his solo The Paul Simon Songbook
in 1965. Recorded on three different dates in June and July at Levy's Studio, London, the album was released as an LP. By agreement, the album was supposed to go out of print after ten years. However, Billboard
reported in early 1978 that Simon filed legal papers to get CBS to delete the album, noting that they were violating their agreement by keeping it in print and stating that it was "not representative of the performer's style." Many years later in March 2004, Simon responded to fan requests by re-releasing the album on CD with bonus tracks. During this period in London he also collaborated on a number of songs with Bruce Woodley of the Seekers, including "I Wish You Could Be Here", "Cloudy", and "Red Rubber Ball", which would be a U.S. No. 2 hit for the Cyrkle in 1966.While Simon was in England that summer of 1965, radio stations around Cocoa Beach and Gainesville, Florida, began to receive requests for a song from the album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.
called "The Sound of Silence". The song also began to receive radio airplay in Boston. Seizing the chance, the duo's U.S. producer, Tom Wilson, inspired by the Byrds' hugely popular electric versions of Bob Dylan songs, used Dylan's studio band (who had collaborated with him on his landmark hit "Like a Rolling Stone" that year) to dub electric guitars, bass and drums onto the original "Sound of Silence" track, and released it as a single, backed with "We've Got a Groovy Thing Goin'". The dubbing turned folk into folk rock, the debut of a new genre for the Top 40, much to Simon's surprise. A few months earlier Simon and Garfunkel had briefly reunited and experimented with a more contemporary sound and recorded a couple of songs including "Groovy Thing".In September 1965, Simon first learned that it had entered the pop charts while he was about to go on stage in a Danish folk club. The song hit No. 1 on the pop charts by New Year's Day, 1966.
Reformation and success
Simon immediately returned to the United States and the duo re-formed to record more tracks in a similar style, though neither approved of what Wilson had done with "The Sound of Silence". The result was a sequence of folk rock records which have endured as well as any in the genre. On January 17, 1966, the duo released the album Sounds of Silence
, which — helped by the title track's success — hit No. 21, while Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.
was re-released and reached No. 30. Among the tracks on The Paul Simon Songbook
that were rerecorded (some with electric backing) for Sound of Silence
were "I Am a Rock" (which as a single reached U.S. No. 3 in the summer of 1966), "Leaves That Are Green", "April Come She Will", "A Most Peculiar Man", and "Kathy's Song".Further hit singles came, including "Scarborough Fair/Canticle", based on a traditional English ballad with an arrangement by Martin Carthy, and "Homeward Bound" (later U.S. No. 5), about life on the road while Simon was touring in England in 1965.Paul Simon was inspired to write "Homeward Bound" while waiting at Ditton railway station on the outskirts of Widnes in North West England. A plaque commemorating this claim to fame was displayed at Ditton railway station until it was closed in 1994 when the plaque was moved to the ticket office on the Liverpool bound platform of the nearby Widnes railway station. Simon is quoted as saying "if you'd ever seen Widnes, then you'd know why I was keen to get back to London as quickly as possible."More tracks from The Paul Simon Songbook
were included along with recent compositions on their October 10, 1966, album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
, which refined the folk rock sound hastily released on Sound of Silence
. "Cloudy", co-written earlier with Bruce Woodley, was included on Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
. However, a Woodley credit was incorrectly omitted. The following year, Woodley's band The Seekers recorded it for their studio album Seen in Green
, on which Simon received a credit.In early 1967, Pickwick Records decided that it would capitalize on the duo's newfound fame by releasing an album titled The Hit Sounds of Simon and Garfunkel
. This album consisted of ten tracks recorded from the late 1950s and early 1960s while the duo still called themselves Tom & Jerry, including their hit "Hey, Schoolgirl", and its B-side, "Dancin' Wild". Simon and Garfunkel then sued Pickwick because the company was presenting the music as recently recorded material, not as songs written and released over five years earlier. Soon afterwards, Pickwick withdrew The Hit Sounds of Simon and Garfunkel
from the market.On June 16, 1967, the duo performed at the Monterey Pop Festival. That same year, Simon and Garfunkel contributed heavily to the soundtrack to Mike Nichols' film The Graduate
, which was released on January 21, 1968, and instantly rose to No. 1 as an album. According to a Variety
article by Peter Bart in the May 15, 2005, issue, Nichols had become obsessed with Simon and Garfunkel's music while shooting the film. Larry Turman, his producer, made a deal for Simon to write three new songs for the film. By the time they were nearly finished editing the film, Simon had written only one new song. Nichols begged him for more but Simon, who was touring constantly, told him he didn't have the time. He did play him a few notes of a new song he had been working on; "It's not for the movie... it's a song about times past—about Mrs. Roosevelt and Joe DiMaggio and stuff." Nichols advised Simon, "It's now about Mrs. Robinson, not Mrs. Roosevelt."As their albums became progressively more adventurous, The Graduate
soundtrack album was immediately followed in March 1968 at the top of the charts by Bookends
, which dealt with increasingly complex themes of old age and loss. It features the top 25 hit singles "A Hazy Shade of Winter", "Fakin' It", "At the Zoo", "America" and a full version of "Mrs. Robinson" – the classic No. 1 single from The Graduate
soundtrack. Simon and Garfunkel returned to England in the fall of 1968 and did a concert appearance at Kraft Hall which was broadcast on the BBC, and also featured Paul's brother Ed sitting in on a performance of the instrumental "Anji".At the March 1969 Grammy Awards, "Mrs. Robinson" was named Record of the Year, while Simon was also honored with the Grammy for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special.
By 1969, the duo's success began to take its toll. Garfunkel had begun to pursue a career in acting and was featured in the role of Nately in Nichols's film adaptation of the novel Catch-22
. Garfunkel's filming leave conflicted with and subsequently delayed the recording of the duo's next album. The part in the film which had initially been promised to Simon was completely cut from the script.The duo's deteriorating personal relationship continued into their late 1969 tour, which featured performances at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, on November 11 and Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, on November 8. Video footage of the tour was shown on their controversial November 30 television special Songs of America,
which TV sponsors refused to endorse because of its anti-Vietnam War message.The recording of what would be their final album, Bridge over Troubled Water
, was not without tension. The LP was originally supposed to feature twelve tracks, but the duo could not agree on the twelfth track: Simon refused to record a Bach chorale track favored by Garfunkel, while Garfunkel refused to record a song Simon had written called "Cuba Si, Nixon No". No middle ground was reached, so the album was released with only eleven songs.Bridge over Troubled Water
was at last released on January 26, 1970. Its title track, featuring Garfunkel's soaring vocals, was a massive hit and one of the best-selling records of the decade, staying No. 1 on the charts for six weeks and remaining on the charts for far longer. The album includes three other top-twenty hits: "El Cóndor Pasa" (US No. 18), "Cecilia" (US No. 4), and "The Boxer" — which, finished in 1968, hit No. 7 on the charts the following year — as well as a live recording of The Everly Brothers' "Bye Bye, Love" from a 1969 tour concert in Ames, Iowa.At the subsequent March 1971 Grammy Awards, the album and single were named Album of the Year and Record Of The Year, and also won the awards for Best Engineered Record, Best Contemporary Song, Song Of The Year, and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists. Their 1972 Greatest Hits
album has sold over 14 million copies in the U.S. becoming the number-one selling album by a duo. The duo finally split in 1970 and both went their separate ways.Simon continued writing and went on to a very successful solo music career, recording several classic albums, including There Goes Rhymin' Simon
, Still Crazy After All These Years
, and his most highly celebrated solo album, Graceland
, collaborating with the Zulu choir Ladysmith Black Mambazo, among others.Garfunkel split his time between acting and recording solo and collaboration albums, to mixed reviews. His most critically acclaimed album was the 1977 effort Watermark
, almost all of the songs for which were penned by acclaimed songwriter Jimmy Webb.
Simon and Garfunkel's first reunion after their second breakup was at a June 1972 benefit concert at Madison Square Garden for presidential candidate George McGovern. On October 18, 1975, the duo made an appearance on the second episode of NBC's new show NBC's Saturday Night
. They performed "The Boxer", "Scarborough Fair", and "My Little Town". The last song was the only new Simon and Garfunkel recording in five years, appearing on both men's solo albums released in 1975 (Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years
and Garfunkel's Breakaway
) and reaching No. 9 on the U.S. Billboard
Hot 100 chart.Simon, along with James Taylor, provided harmony vocals on Garfunkel's cover of Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World", on Garfunkel's 1977 album Watermark
; the single release of that song reached No. 1 on the Billboard
Adult Contemporary chart and No. 17 on the Hot 100. Simon also contributed backing vocals to "In Cars", a song on Garfunkel's 1981 solo album Scissors Cut
.Simon and Garfunkel reunited again for a free concert in New York City's Central Park on September 19, 1981. The concert was attended by over 500,000 people, and a recording of it was subsequently released as a live album, with their cover of "Wake Up Little Susie" released as a single. A video recording was likewise televised by HBO and issued on home video. The success of the Central Park concert prompted the duo to go on a world tour in 1982–83, including a performance at Shea Stadium in August 1983.Simon and Garfunkel went on to complete the recording of their first new studio album in more than a decade, provisionally titled Think Too Much
and featuring some songs previewed on their recent concert jaunt. However, creative differences, coupled with the record company's negative reaction to the decidedly un-Simon-and-Garfunkel-like album, led Simon to remove Garfunkel's vocal tracks and rework the songs himself. The 1983 Simon solo album Hearts and Bones
was the result, and a long period of estrangement for the duo followed.Their next joint public concert performance was in 1990, when the two performed at a ceremony for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Simon and Garfunkel appeared together in 1993 for 21 sold out concerts in New York, with half of the show being Paul Simon solo with a band and the other half Simon and Garfunkel. Later the same year, they did some charity concerts, including the Bridge School Benefit concerts and a benefit for United Way Children's Charities at SkyDome in Toronto, which included Canadian singer / songwriter Gordon Lightfoot and Blue Rodeo as support acts.In July 2002, Columbia Legacy issued a previously unreleased live recording of a Simon and Garfunkel concert, Live from New York City, 1967.
It features an almost-complete recording of a performance given by the duo at Philharmonic Hall, at Lincoln Center in New York City on January 22, 1967. The album includes a rendition of "A Church Is Burning", one of the songs that originally appeared on Paul Simon's 1965 solo album, The Paul Simon Songbook
.On February 23, 2003, Simon and Garfunkel reunited to perform in public for the first time in a decade, singing "The Sound of Silence" as the opening act of the Grammy Awards. Before the show, the duo was presented with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, honoring their musical contributions over the past four and a half decades. They were introduced by Dustin Hoffman, who made his debut in the film The Graduate,
which extensively featured their music.The good feelings generated by their appearance on the Grammys led to another thaw in their relationship. Soon, Simon and Garfunkel launched a two-month long reunion tour of the United States (and Toronto, Canada), which began October 16 and culminated in Tampa on December 21, 2003. Entitled Old Friends,
their first tour in over twenty years included forty shows in twenty-eight cities and featured special guests the Everly Brothers. The tour featured in its opening video montage a short series of clips and photos taken during the day leading up to the concert around the venue. Simon and Garfunkel performed "Hey, Schoolgirl", which they said was the first song they had written and recorded together. At the tour concert at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey, they performed "Leaves That Are Green" in place of "Song for the Asking", which had been on their set list for the other concerts on this tour, following an announcement that they had not played it in concert since 1967. They also played "Leaves That Are Green" at concerts in Cleveland and Boston after making a similar announcement.The success of the first Old Friends
tour led to an encore in June and July 2004 with over 25 shows, this time also in Europe. In July 2004, they completed the tour with a flourish, with a finale at the Colosseum in Rome before an audience which, according to the Mayor of Rome, exceeded 600,000 — even larger than the audience at the famous 1981 Central Park concert.A live CD and DVD from their Old Friends
tour was released in late 2004. It featured a "new" studio duo song, "Citizen of the Planet", one of the songs from the rejected 1983 reunion album that did not originally feature Garfunkel's vocal participation.In 2007, PBS hosted the first Gershwin Awards, at which Paul Simon was honored. Simon introduced Garfunkel (for a cameo appearance) as "my partner in arguments" and the two sang "Bridge over Troubled Water" together.Columbia/Legacy announced the September 18, 2007, release of Live 1969,
which was said to feature recently discovered masters recorded on their 1969 tour. Most of the arrangements remain virtually unchanged. That 1969 tour would be their last for over a decade, immediately preceding the release of the 1970 album Bridge over Troubled Water
. The tour was recorded preparing for a subsequent live album, but the release of the live album did not happen, until now, as reported in Billboard.
On February 13, 2009, Simon and his band re-opened New York's legendary Beacon Theatre, which had been closed for seven months for a renovation. As an encore, Simon brought out his "old friend" Art Garfunkel. They sang 3 songs: "Sound of Silence", "The Boxer", and "Old Friends".On April 2, 2009, the duo announced a tour of Australia, New Zealand and Japan for June/July 2009. On October 29–30, they participated together in the 25th anniversary of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden. Other artists on the bill included Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band; U2; Metallica; Aretha Franklin; Stevie Wonder and Crosby, Stills & Nash.In March 2010, Simon & Garfunkel announced a 13-date spring tour, to perform in April at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Most performances were scheduled for Canada, with four shows in the upper Midwest of the U.S. According to a press release, the set list would focus on their classic catalog, as well as songs from each of their solo careers. On June 17, 2010, Simon & Garfunkel canceled the tour, earlier rescheduled for July 2010, now postponed indefinitely as Garfunkel continues to recover from a vocal cord paresis.
From the very beginning of their fame, through the present time years after their break-up, Simon and Garfunkel have had an impact on the popular culture as evidenced by the many references to them made in television, film, music and other aspects of pop culture.Among the earliest pop culture references or homages came in the late 1960s, when the comedy television show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In
had a running skit featuring members of the "Farkle" Family, including Fred & Fanny Farkle "and the twins, Simon and Garr Farkle". In the early '70s sitcom The Partridge Family
, the two youngest Partridge children name their pet goldfish "Simon and Garfunkel".The lyrics of Simon and Garfunkel songs continue to be referenced many times on television, long after their initial popularity. On an episode of How I Met Your Mother
, Marshall commissions a Venn diagram in which one section represents the "people who are breaking his heart" while the other represents "people who are shaking his confidence daily". The section where the two overlap is labelled "Cecilia". The end of the "Lady Bouvier's Lover" episode of The Simpsons
contains one of the series' many homages to The Graduate,
and features a parody of "The Sound of Silence" over the closing credits. ("Hello grandpa my old friend/your busy day is at an end/your words are always sad and boring/they tell a tale that's worth ignoring".) In another episode, Mr. Burns spins around a lamp post singing, "Hello lamp post. What ya knowin'? I've come to watch your power flowin'", a reference to the lyrics of "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)".The episode "Bendin' in the Wind" of Futurama
, in a double send-up of Simon and Garfunkel and Battlestar Galactica,
features the singing duo "Cylon and Garfunkel" performing a rendition of "Scarborough Fair"
in which the robot Cylon's singing is entirely monotone, and Garfunkel — who explains during the performance that he is the descendant of Art — states that he will give Bender the check "over my dead career!"In an episode of Saturday Night Live'
s "Celebrity Jeopardy" parody, there was a category entitled "Members of Simon and Garfunkel". The clue read, "Of Simon and Garfunkel, the one who is not Garfunkel." Once the Sean Connery character rang in, he asked for the question to be repeated and said in response, "I Garfunkeled your mother!" This was one of the running gags of the parody. In another SNL skit, Will Forte and Jason Sudeikis pose as Bon Jovi opposite band, Jon Bovi, but when accused of sounding exactly like Bon Jovi, they say, "Well, if you didn't like that, you're going to love our new opposite folk rock band, Gimon & Sarfunkel." They then sing the opposite "Bridge over Troubled Water", "Tunnel Under Peaceful Fire".In an episode of Flight of the Conchords
, the lead characters form a Simon and Garfunkel tribute band performing "Scarborough Fair". Garfunkel himself later appears in the episode. In the episode "Unnatural Love", the song "Carol Brown" is an homage to the Paul Simon song "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover".The Nickelodeon sitcom How to Rock uses the artists' family names as those of the main characters.