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Profile: Simon and Garfunkel

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Simon and Garfunkel in the Sixties

Simon and Garfunkel in the Sixties

source: undertoner.dk

Formed:

1964 (Forest Hills, Queens, New York, NY)

Genres:

Folk, Folk-rock, Pop-rock, Pop

Members:

Paul Frederick Simon (b. October 13, 1941, Newark, NJ): vocals (baritone)
Arthur Ira "Art" Garfunkel (b. November 5, 1941, Queens, NY): vocals (tenor)

Contributions to music:

  • Folk and folk-rock's most successful duo
  • Established Paul Simon as one of the pre-eminent songwriters of his generation
  • Created the most seamless duo harmonies since the Everly Brothers
  • Brought folk-rock into the modern age with epic poetic stances and innovative production
  • Created a healing anthem for a turbulent era with the 1970 single "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
  • Began Simon's influential incorporation of world music into Western pop

Early years:

Childhood friends and schoolmates, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel began performing professionally at the age of 14 as a Everly Brothers-type duo called Tom and Jerry; in fact, they nearly scored a Top 40 hit in 1957 with Simon's composition "Hey, Schoolgirl." But subsequent success proved tough, and the duo soon went their own ways. By 1963, Simon had become inspired by the burgeoning Greenwich Village folk scene and started to write in that style. Garfunkel joined him for an album called Wednesday Morning, 3. A.M., but when it failed to chart, Paul decamped to England.

Success:

In 1965, however, Florida radio stations began receiving numerous requests for "The Sound Of Silence," a track from the album. Sensing an opportunity, producer Tom Wilson overdubbed "rock" drums and guitars over the acoustic track, creating the hit we know today. Simon returned to the US, and although neither man approved of the tinkering, they began recording hits in a similar style, including "I Am A Rock." Their career got a major boost in 1968 when their songs were featured in the Mike Nichols film The Graduate, a timely generational comedy that proved a smash hit.

Later years:

By 1970, Simon's songwriting had grown considerably, leading to the massive hit "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The two had grown tired of working together by that time, and entered a hiatus that turned into more or less a permanent breakup. Simon went on to an even more successful solo career, while Art became a serious actor and sang with some degree of success. The duo have reunited periodically, most notably for a single in 1975 and a free New York Central Park concert in 1981, but for the most part they have remained separate entities.

Other facts:

  • Met as classmates in Queens' PS 164, appearing in a production of "Alice in Wonderland" with Paul as the White Rabbit and Garfunkel as the Cheshire Cat
  • Appeared on American Bandstand in 1957 as Tom and Jerry
  • The London "railway station" that inspired "Homeward Bound," Widnes Central, now features a plaque commemorating the song
  • "Mrs. Robinson" was originally called "Mrs. Roosevelt" but changed to reflect the name of a character in The Graduate
  • "El Condor Pasa" is based on an ancient Andean folk song
  • Asteroid 91287 Simon-Garfunkel is named for the duo

Awards/Honors:

  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1990)
  • Four GRAMMY Awards (1969, 1971)
  • GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award (2003)
  • GRAMMY Hall of Fame (1998, 1999, 2004)
  • Songwriters Hall of Fame (1982) (Simon only)

Recorded work:

#1 hits:
Pop:
  • "The Sounds Of Silence" (1966)
  • "Mrs. Robinson" (1968)
  • "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (1970)
Top 10 hits:
Pop:
  • "I Am A Rock" (1966)
  • "The Boxer" (1969)
  • "Cecilia" (1970)
  • "My Little Town" (1975)
#1 albums:
Pop:
  • The Graduate (1968)
  • Bookends (1968)
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
Top 10 albums:
Pop:
  • Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966)
  • Simon And Garfunkel's Greatest Hits (1972)
  • The Concert In Central Park (1982)
Other important recordings: "Bleecker Street," "Richard Cory," "Leaves That Are Green," "April Come She Will," "Homeward Bound," "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her," "59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)," "The Dangling Conversation," "Fakin' It," "At The Zoo," "America," "Old Friends," "El Condor Pasa"
Covered by: The Lemonheads, Everything but the Girl, Yes, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, The Church, Aretha Franklin, David Bowie, The Bangles, Sergio Mendes, Harpers Bizarre, Bob Dylan, Booker T. & The MGs, Elvis Presley, Them, Waylon Jennings, Peaches & Herb, Frank Sinatra, Cassidy, Bonnie Tyler, Shirley Bassey, Joan Baez, Anne Murray, Emmylou Harris, Buddy Rich, The Ventures, Bon Jovi, The Hollies, Danny Bonaduce, Charlotte Church, The Seekers, Paul McCartney and Wings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Clay Aiken, Nirvana, Material Issue
Wrote or co-wrote: "Red Rubber Ball," The Cyrkle
Appears in the movies: "Monterey Pop" (1968) Simon: "Annie Hall" (1977), "One Trick Pony" (1980) Garfunkel: "Catch-22" (1970), "Carnal Knowledge" (1971), "Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession" (1980), "Good To Go" (1986), "Boxing Helena" (1993), "54" (1998)
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