Simon & Garfunkel

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Simon & Garfunkel
Simon & Garfunkel performing in Dublin, 1982
Background information
Origin Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, New York City, U.S.
Genres Folk rock[1]
Years active 1957–1965, 1966–1970
(reunions: 1975, 1981–83, 1993, 2003–04, 2009–10)
Labels Columbia
Past members Paul Simon
Art Garfunkel

Simon & Garfunkel were an American folk rock duo consisting of singer-songwriter Paul Simon and singer Art Garfunkel. They were one of the most popular groups of the 1960s, and were viewed as counterculture icons of the decade's social revolution, alongside artists such as the Beatles and Bob Dylan. Their biggest hits—including "Mrs. Robinson" (1968), "The Boxer" (1969), and "Bridge over Troubled Water" (1969)—reached number one on several charts worldwide. Their often rocky relationship led to artistic disagreements, resulting in their 1970 breakup. Their final studio record, Bridge over Troubled Water, was subsequently their most successful, becoming one of the world's best-selling albums. They have reunited several times since their split, most famously for 1981's "The Concert in Central Park", which attracted more than 500,000 people, the seventh-largest concert attendance in history.[2]

The duo first met as children in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, New York in 1953, where they first learned to harmonize with one another and began writing original material. By 1957, the teenagers had their first minor success with "Hey Schoolgirl", a song imitating their idols the Everly Brothers. Afterwards, the duo went their separate ways, with Simon pursuing unsuccessful solo records and both attending college. In 1963, with a greater interest in folk music, they regrouped and were signed to Columbia Records. Their debut, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., sold poorly, and they once again disbanded, with Simon moving to England to again perform solo. A remix of their song "The Sound of Silence" gained airplay on U.S. radio in 1965, hitting number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Simon & Garfunkel reunited, releasing their second studio album Sounds of Silence and touring colleges nationwide. Their third release, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966), found the duo assuming more creative control. Their music was featured in the 1967 film The Graduate, propelling the duo to further exposure. Bookends (1968), their next album, benefited from this promotion, and increased their profile. After their 1970 breakup they both continued recording, Simon releasing a number of highly acclaimed albums, including 1986's Graceland;[3] Garfunkel also carried on acting, including the lead in Nicolas Roeg's 1980 film Bad Timing.

Simon & Garfunkel are considered the most popular folk rock act from the 1960s, and one of the most popular artists from the decade in general.[1] Their music made a "deep impression" on the baby boomer generation, and they are considered alongside artists such as Bob Dylan and the Beatles to be representative of the era's cultural movements. They have been given 10 Grammy Awards, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, and their Bridge Over Troubled Water album was nominated at the 1977 Brit Awards for Best International Album,[4] and ranked at #51 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[5]


Early years (1953–62)[edit]

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel grew up in the predominantly Jewish neighborhood Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, New York City, just three blocks away from one another.[6] They individually developed a fascination with music at a young age, both particularly taken with the advent of rock and roll.[7] Garfunkel began singing in talent shows beginning in the fourth grade at P.S. 164, and Simon began vying for his friendship. They first crossed paths in the sixth grade, with Simon telling him, "I was hoping that you would run into me and that you would think I was neat."[8] Their friendship flourished when they both received parts in a school play adaption of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (Simon as the White Rabbit, Garfunkel as the Cheshire Cat).[8] They began to sing in street-corner doo-wop groups together, where they learned to harmonize with one another.[9] The duo's first song, "The Girl for Me", was written in 1956; Simon's father wrote out the chords and lyrics by hand, sending it to the Library of Congress to register a copyright, where it remains today.[10]

They began attending Forest Hills High School in fall 1955,[11] and the duo began to commit their completed arrangements to magnetic tape.[12] They began performing for the first time as a duo at school dances.[10] Largely inspired by the breakthrough of Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers, the duo decided to preview an original composition, "Hey Schoolgirl", for music publishers in Manhattan.[13] They recorded the song (with the B-side "Dancin' Wild") for a small fee at Sanders Recording Studio, a closet-like space. After recording the tunes, they met a promotor named Sid Prosen, who offered to sign them — in a dramatic fashion, proclaiming them to be the next Everly Brothers — to his independent label Big Records.[14] They adopted the name Tom and Jerry after the theatrical cartoons. Garfunkel named himself Tom Graph, a reference to his math proficiency and tendency to keep detailed records of hit singles' chart positions on graph paper.[8] Simon called himself Jerry Landis, after the surname of a girl he had dated, Sue Landis.[12] Prosen bribed Alan Freed to get the single played on his show (a practice dubbed payola that would soon cut Freed's career short), where it soon became a nightly staple.[15]

"Hey Schoolgirl" attracted regular rotation on nationwide AM pop stations, leading it to sell over 100,000 copies and to land on Billboard‍‍ '​‍s charts at number 49.[15] Prosen began promoting the group heavily, getting them a spot on Dick Clark's American Bandstand (headlining alongside Jerry Lee Lewis).[16] The duo earned about $2,000 from their hit, respectively (earning two percent each from royalties, with 96% staying with Prosen to cover "expenses").[17] Garfunkel was not fond of the competitive music industry and informed Simon of his wish to return to his studies. Simon, meanwhile, was taken by the experience, continuing to record with Prosen under the name "True Taylor".[17] Following graduation, Simon majored in English at Queens College, while Garfunkel studied mathematics at Columbia University. Simon's solo material was not selling well, and to his surprise, Garfunkel agreed to reunite and record several singles.[18] These recordings stalled commercially, leading Big Records to disband and marking the end of the duo's relationship with Prosen.[18] Simon's subsequent solo work led to a dent in his friendship with Garfunkel, who regarded it as betrayal. This unresolved tension would follow the duo throughout their recording careers and into the future.[19] Meanwhile, Simon completed his undergraduate studies (mostly to appease his mother) and enrolled part-time in Brooklyn Law School.[20]

Formation and first split (1963–64)[edit]

Both Simon and Garfunkel separately became interested in the new counterculture movement and folk music.[clarification needed] Simon began to frequent Greenwich Village, and Garfunkel returned to Columbia University in order to keep his student draft deferment as the Vietnam War began.[21] Both began smoking cannabis and discussing Simon's newer songs. Soon after, they began performing them at the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house.[21] By late 1963, they began to bill themselves as "Kane & Garr", signing up for Gerde's Folk City, a Greenwich club that hosted Monday night performances.[22] The duo performed three new songs — "Sparrow", "He Was My Brother", and "The Sound of Silence" — and got the attention of Columbia producer Tom Wilson, who worked with Bob Dylan.[23] As a "star producer" for the label, he wanted to record "He Was My Brother" with a new British act named the Pilgrims.[24] Simon convinced Wilson to let him and his partner have a studio audition, and they performed "The Sound of Silence". House engineer Roy Halee recorded the audition, and at Wilson's urging, Columbia signed the duo.[24]

Their debut studio, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., was recorded over three daytime sessions in March 1964, and released in October.[25] The album contains five original Simon compositions, with the remainder consisting of traditional folk songs, not unlike Dylan's first album.[25] Simon was adamant that they would no longer use fake names, and they adopted the name Simon & Garfunkel.[26] Columbia set up a promotional showcase at Folk City on March 31, 1964, the duo's first public concert as Simon & Garfunkel.[26] Dylan was at the performance, and tension with Simon led to a long-standing grudge between the two. Biographers in later years would attempt to shed light on what created the tension: some say Dylan drunkenly talked loudly throughout the show, while others say Dylan flat-out ignored the show in either jealousy or disdain.[27] The showcase, as well as other scheduled performances, did not go well. Anticipating failure, Simon moved to Brentwood, Essex, near London and began frequenting small folk clubs,[28] where he would meet Kathy Chitty. She became the object of his affection and inspiration for multiple songs. Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. sold a paltry 3,000 copies upon its October release, and its dismal sales led Simon to return to England.[29]

Several months before its release, a small music publishing company named Lorna Music licensed "Carlos Dominguez", a single Simon had cut two years prior as "Paul Kane", for a cover by Val Doonican that sold very well.[30] He visited Lorna to thank them, and the meeting resulted in a publishing and recording contract. He signed to the Oriole label and released "He Was My Brother" as a single.[30] Simon invited Garfunkel to stay for the summer of 1964 at his communal flat alongside Martin Carthy, a folk singer that Simon befriended during his tenure in England.[30] Near the end of the season, Garfunkel returned to Columbia for class, and Simon surprised his friends by saying that he would be returning to the States as well.[31] He would resume his studies at Brooklyn Law School for one semester, partially at his parents' insistence. He returned to England in January 1965, now certain that music was his calling.[32] In the meantime, his landlord, Judith Piepe, had compiled a tape from his work at Lorna and sent it to the BBC in hopes they would play it.[32] The demos aired on the Five to Ten morning show, and were instantly successful. Oriole had folded into CBS by that point, and hoped to record a new Paul Simon album.[33]

The Paul Simon Songbook was recorded in June 1965 and featured multiple future Simon & Garfunkel staples, among them "I Am a Rock" and "April Come She Will". CBS flew over Wilson to produce the record, and he stayed at Simon's flat.[33] The album saw release in August, and although sales were poor, Simon felt content with his future in England.[34] Meanwhile, in the United States, a late-night disc jockey at WBZ-FM in Boston began to spin "The Sound of Silence" overnight, where it found a college demographic.[35] It was picked up the next day along the East Coast, down to Cocoa Beach, Florida. Wilson, inspired by the folk rock sound of the Byrds' cover of "Turn! Turn! Turn!" and Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone", decided to create a rock remix of the song. Bringing in the same musicians who overdubbed the Dylan song, the remix of "The Sound of Silence" was issued in September 1965, where it began impacting the Billboard Hot 100.[36] Wilson had not informed the duo of his intention to remix the track; as such, Simon was "horrified" when he first heard it.[36] Nevertheless, he and Garfunkel appreciated the success, which grew bigger over the course of that fall.

Mainstream breakthrough and success (1965–66)[edit]

By January 1966, "The Sound of Silence" topped the Hot 100, selling over one million copies.[37] Simon reunited with Garfunkel that winter in New York, leaving Chitty and his friends in England behind. CBS demanded a new album from the duo, to be called Sounds of Silence to ride the wave of the hit.[38] It mainly consists of re-recorded cuts from The Paul Simon Songbook, plus four new songs.[39] Recorded in three weeks, it was rush-released onto the market in mid-January 1966, peaking at number 21 Billboard Top LPs chart. One week later, "Homeward Bound", debuted as one of the top ten songs in the country.[40] "I Am a Rock" followed, peaking at number three. Despite this, the duo received critical derision, as many considered them a manufactured imitation of folk.[40] Simon & Garfunkel immediately hit the nationwide touring circuit, while CBS continued their promotion by re-releasing Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., which promptly charted at number 30.[41]

As they considered their previous effort a "rush job" to capitalize on their sudden success, the duo spent more time crafting its follow-up. It was the first time Simon insisted on total control in aspects of recording.[42] Work began in 1966 and took nine months.[43] Garfunkel considered the recording of "Scarborough Fair" the moment they stepped into the role as producer, because they were constantly beside engineer Roy Halee mixing the track.[43] Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme was issued in October 1966, following the release of several singles and receiving sold-out college campus shows.[44] The duo resumed their trek on the college circuit eleven days following the release, crafting an image that was described as "alienated," "weird," and "poetic."[45] Manager Mort Lewis also was responsible for this public perception, as he withheld them from television appearances (unless they were allowed to play an uninterrupted set or choose the setlist).[45] Simon, then 27, felt he had finally "made it" into an upper echelon of rock and roll, while most importantly retaining artistic integrity ("making him spiritually closer to Bob Dylan than to, say, Bobby Darin", wrote biographer Marc Eliot).[46] The duo chose William Morris as their booking agency after a recommendation from Wally Amos, a mutual friend through their producer, Tom Wilson.[46]

Simon & Garfunkel at Schiphol Airport, the Netherlands in 1966.

During the sessions for Parsley, the duo cut "A Hazy Shade of Winter" and decided to release it as a single then, where it peaked at number 13 on the national charts.[43] Similarly, they recorded "At the Zoo" for single release in early 1967 (it charted lower, at number 16).[47] Simon began work for their next album around this time, noting to a writer at High Fidelity that "I'm not interested in singles anymore".[48] He had hit a dry spell in his writing, which led to no Simon & Garfunkel album on the horizon for 1967.[49] Artists at the time were expected to release two, perhaps three albums each year and the lack of productivity from the duo worried executives at Columbia Records.[48] Amid concerns for Simon's idleness, Columbia Records chairman Clive Davis arranged for up-and-coming record producer John Simon to kick-start the recording.[50] Simon was distrustful of "suits" at the label; on one occasion, he and Garfunkel brought a tape recorder into a meeting with Davis, who was giving a "fatherly talk" on speeding up production, in order to laugh at it later.[51]

Meanwhile, director Mike Nichols, then filming The Graduate, had become fascinated with the duo's past two efforts, listening to them nonstop before and after filming.[52] After two weeks of this obsession, he met with Clive Davis to ask for permission to license Simon & Garfunkel music for his film. Davis viewed it as a perfect fit and envisioned a best-selling soundtrack album.[46] Simon was not as immediately receptive, viewing movies akin to "selling out", creating a damper on his artistic integrity. However, after meeting Nichols and becoming impressed by his wit and the script, he agreed to write at least one or two new songs for the film.[46] Leonard Hirshan, a powerful agent at William Morris, negotiated a deal that paid Simon $25,000 to submit three songs to Nichols and producer Lawrence Turman.[53] Several weeks later, Simon re-emerged with two new tracks, "Punky's Dilemma" and "Overs", neither of which Nichols was particularly taken with. The duo offered another new song, which later became "Mrs. Robinson", that was not as developed. Nichols loved it.[53]

Studio time and low profile (1967–68)[edit]

The duo's fourth studio album, Bookends, was recorded in fits and starts over various periods from late 1966 to early 1968. The duo were signed under an older contract that specified the label pay for sessions,[51] and Simon & Garfunkel took advantage of this indulgence, hiring viola and brass players, as well as percussionists.[54] The record's brevity reflects its concise and perfectionistic production. The team spent over 50 studio hours recording "Punky's Dilemma", for example, and re-recorded vocal parts, sometimes note by note, until they were satisfied.[55] While Garfunkel's songs and voice took a lead role on some songs, the harmonies the band were known for gradually disappeared. For Simon, Bookends represented the end of the duo and became an early indicator of his intentions to go solo.[56] Although the album had been planned long in advance, work did not begin in earnest until the late months of 1967.[57]

Prior to release, the band helped put together and performed at the Monterey Pop Festival, which signaled the beginning of the Summer of Love on the West Coast.[58] "Fakin' It" was issued as a single that summer and found only modest success on AM radio; the duo were much more focused on the rising FM format, which played album cuts and treated their music with respect.[59] In January 1968, the duo appeared on a Kraft Music Hall special, Three for Tonight, performing ten songs largely culled from their third album.[60] Bookends was released by Columbia Records in April 1968. In a historical context, this was just 24 hours before the assassination of civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., which spurred nationwide outrage and riots.[61] The album debuted on the Billboard Top LPs in the issue dated April 27, 1968, climbing to number one and staying at that position for seven non-consecutive weeks; it remained on the chart as a whole for 66 weeks.[58] Bookends received such heavy orders weeks in advance of its release that Columbia was able to apply for award certification before copies left the warehouse, a fact it touted in magazine ads.[62] At one point in 1968, the duo held down the top three positions on the chart, with Bookends, The Graduate, and Parsley.[63] The record became the duo's best-selling album to date: it fed off the buzz created by the release of The Graduate soundtrack album ten weeks earlier, creating an initial combined sales figure of over five million units.[64][65]

Davis had predicted this fact, and suggested raising the list price of Bookends by one dollar to $5.79, above the then standard retail price, to compensate for including a large poster included in vinyl copies.[66][65] Simon instead scoffed and viewed it as charging a premium on "what was sure to be that year's best-selling Columbia album". According to biographer Marc Eliot, Davis was "offended by what he perceived as their lack of gratitude for what he believed was his role in turning them into superstars".[65] Rather than implement Davis' price increase plan, Simon & Garfunkel signed a contract extension with Columbia that guaranteed them a higher royalty rate.[64] Lead single "Mrs. Robinson" became the first rock and roll song to win Record of the Year at the 11th Annual Grammy Awards in 1969; it also nabbed the honor of Best Contemporary Pop Performance by a Duo or Group.[67]

Growing apart and final years (1969–70)[edit]

Bookends, alongside The Graduate soundtrack, propelled Simon & Garfunkel to become the biggest rock duo in the world.[65] Simon was approached by producers to write music for films or license songs; he turned down Franco Zeffirelli, who was preparing to film Brother Sun, Sister Moon, and John Schlesinger, who likewise was readying to shoot Midnight Cowboy.[65] In addition to Hollywood proposals, producers from the Broadway show Jimmy Shine (starring Simon's friend Dustin Hoffman, also the lead in Midnight Cowboy) asked for two original songs and Simon declined.[64] He collaborated briefly with Leonard Bernstein on a sacred mass before withdrawing from the project due to "finding it perhaps too far afield from his comfort zone".[64] Garfunkel took the role of Captain Nately in the Nichols film, Catch-22, based on the Catch-22 novel. Initially Simon was to play the character of Dunbar, but screenwriter Buck Henry felt the film was already crowded with characters and subsequently wrote Simon's part out.[68][69]

The filming of Catch-22 began in January 1969 and lasted about eight months.[70][71] The unexpectedly long film production endangered the relationship between the duo;[69] Simon had not completed any new songs at this point, and the duo planned to collaborate when the filming would be finished.[69] As Simon and Garfunkel were working busily on recording,[clarification needed] they had to decline invitations to perform, including at the Woodstock Festival.[72][73] Following the end of filming of Catch-22 in October, the first performance of what was, for a time, their last tour, took place in Ames, Iowa.[74] The US leg of the tour ended in the sold-out Carnegie Hall on November 27.[75] After breaking for Christmas, the duo continued working on the album in early 1970 and finished it in late January.[76] Meanwhile, the duo, working with director Charles Grodin, produced an hourlong CBS special, Songs of America, which is a mixture of scenes featuring notable political events and leaders concerning the USA, such as the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy's funeral procession, Cesar Chavez and the Poor People's March. It was broadcast only once, due to internal tension at the network regarding its content.[77][78]

Bridge over Troubled Water, their final studio album, was released in January 1970 and charted in over 11 countries, topping the charts in 10, including the Billboard Top LP's chart in the US and the UK Albums Chart.[79][80] It was the best-selling album in 1970, 1971 and 1972 and was at that time the best-selling album of all time, a position it kept until outsold by Michael Jackson's Thriller (1982).[81][82] The album topped the Billboard charts for 10 weeks and stayed in the charts for 85 weeks.[82] In the United Kingdom, the album topped the charts for 35 weeks, and spent 285 weeks in the top 100, from 1970 to 1975.[82] It has since sold over 25 million copies worldwide.[83][84] "Bridge over Troubled Water", the album's lead single, hit number one in five countries and became their biggest seller.[9] The song has been covered by over 50 artists since then,[85] including Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.[86] "Cecilia", the follow-up, hit number four in the US, and "El Condor Pasa" hit number 18.[9]

The recording process was tough for both musicians, and their breakup was almost certain considering the deterioration of their relationship. "At that point, I just wanted out," Simon later said.[87] Their breakup was not intended to be semi-permanent: Garfunkel hoped for a two-year break from Simon & Garfunkel and did not intend to pursue a film-career. Likewise, Simon did not intend to begin a solo career.[88] A brief British tour followed the album release, and the duo's last concert as Simon & Garfunkel occurred at Forest Hills Stadium.[89] In 1971, the album took home six awards at the 13th Annual Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. Simon's wife, Peggy Harper, pushed for him to make the split official, and he placed a call to Davis to confirm the duo's breakup: "I want you to know I’ve decided to split with Artie. I don’t think we’ll be recording together again."[90] For the next several years, the duo would only speak "two or three" times a year.[91]

Breakup, rifts, and reunions (1971–2003)[edit]

The group performing in the Netherlands in 1982

In the 1970s, the duo reunited several times. Their first reunion was a benefit concert for presidential candidate George McGovern at New York's Madison Square Garden in June 1972.[9] In 1975, they reconciled once more when they visited a recording session with John Lennon and Harry Nilsson.[92] For the rest of the year, they attempted to make the reunion work, but their collaboration only yielded one song, "My Little Town," that was featured on Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years and Garfunkel's Breakaway.[92] It peaked at number nine on the Hot 100. In 1975, Garfunkel joined Simon for a medley of three songs on the television series Saturday Night Live which Simon was guest hosting.[93] In 1977, Garfunkel joined Simon for a brief performance of their old songs on Simon's television special The Paul Simon Special, and the next year, they recorded a cover of Sam Cooke's "(What a) Wonderful World" with James Taylor.[9] Old tensions finally appeared to dissipate upon Garfunkel's return to New York in 1978, when the duo began interacting more often.[91]

By 1980, the duo's respective solo efforts were not doing well.[91] To help alleviate New York's economic decline, concert promoter Ron Delsener came up with the idea to throw a free concert in Central Park.[94] Delsener contacted Simon with the idea of a Simon & Garfunkel reunion, and once Garfunkel agreed, plans were made.[95] The Concert in Central Park, performed September 19, 1981, attracted more than 500,000 people, at that time the largest-ever concert attendance.[9] Warner Bros. Records released a live album of the show that went double platinum in the US.[9] A 90-minute recording of the concert was sold to the Home Box Office (HBO) for over one million.[96] The concert created a renewed interest in the duo's work.[97] They had several "heart-to-heart talks," attempting to put past issues behind them.[91] The duo planned a world tour, kicking off in May 1982, but their relationship grew contentious: for the majority of the tour, they didn't speak to one another.[98] Warner Bros. pushed for them to extend the tour and release an all-new Simon & Garfunkel studio album.[98]

After recording several vocal tracks for a possible new Simon & Garfunkel album, Simon decided to adopt it as his own solo album. Garfunkel had refused to learn the songs in the studio, and would not give up cannabis and cigarettes, despite Simon's requests.[99] An official spokesperson remarked, "Paul simply felt the material he wrote is so close to his own life that it had to be his own record. Art was hoping to be on the album, but I'm sure there will be other projects that they will work on together. They are still friends."[99] The material was later released on Simon's 1983 effort Hearts and Bones.[9] Another rift opened between the duo when the lengthy recording of Simon's 1986 album Graceland prevented Garfunkel from working with Roy Halee on a Christmas album.[100] In 1990, the duo were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Garfunkel thanked his partner, calling him "the person who most enriched my life by putting those songs through me," to which Simon responded, "Arthur and I agree about almost nothing. But it's true, I have enriched his life quite a bit." After three songs, the duo left without speaking.[101]

We are indescribable. You'll never capture it. It's an ingrown, deep friendship. Yes, there is deep love in there. But there's also shit.

Garfunkel describing his six-decade-long friendship with Simon[102]

By 1993, their relationship had thawed again, and Simon invited Garfunkel on an international tour with him.[103] Following a 21-date, sold-out run at the Paramount Theater in New York, the duo toured the Far East.[9] The duo had a falling out over the course of the rest of the decade, the details of which have never been disclosed.[9] Simon thanked Garfunkel at his 2001 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist: "I regret the ending of our friendship. I hope that some day before we die we will make peace with each other," resuming after a pause, "No rush."[9] They were awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards in 2003, for which the promoters convinced them to reconcile and open the show with a performance of "The Sound of Silence." The performance was satisfying for both musicians, and they planned out a full-scale reunion tour over the summer. The Old Friends tour began in October 2003 and played to sold-out audiences across the United States for 30 dates until mid-December.[88] The tour earned an estimated $123 million.[104] Following a twelve-city run in Europe in 2004, they ended their nine-month tour with a free concert at the Colosseum in Rome. It attracted 600,000 fans, more than their The Concert in Central Park.[105]

Recent years (2009–present)[edit]

The duo at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, their last performance to date[102]

In 2009, the duo reunited again for three songs during Simon's two-night arrangement at New York's Beacon Theatre. This led to a reunion tour of Asia and Australia in June 2009.[104] Their headlining set at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was very difficult for Garfunkel, who was experiencing serious vocal problems. "I was terrible, and crazy nervous. I leaned on Paul Simon and the affection of the crowd," he told Rolling Stone several years later.[102] Garfunkel was diagnosed with vocal cord paresis, and the remaining tour dates were postponed indefinitely. His manager, John Scher, informed Simon's camp that Garfunkel would be ready within a year, which did not happen, leading to poor relations between the two. He regained his vocal strength over the course of the next four years, performing shows in a Harlem theater and to underground audiences.[102]

Despite this, the duo have not staged a full-scale tour or performed shows since 2010. Garfunkel confirmed to Rolling Stone in 2014 that he believes they will tour in the future, although Simon had been too "busy" in recent years. "I know that audiences all over the world like Simon and Garfunkel. I'm with them. But I don't think Paul Simon's with them," he remarked.[102]

Musical style and influences[edit]

Over the course of their career, their music gradually moved from a very basic, folk rock sound to incorporate more experimental elements for the time, including Latin and gospel music.[1]


Simon & Garfunkel are considered the most popular folk rock act from the 1960s, and one of the most popular artists from the decade in general.[1] Their music made a "deep impression" on the baby boomer generation, and they are considered alongside artists such as Bob Dylan and the Beatles to be representative of the era's cultural movements.[88] Many adolescents of the period found their music relevant, while adults regarded them as intelligent.[9] Their music, according to Rolling Stone, struck a chord among lonely, adrift young adults near the end of the 1960s.[106]

Despite this, the group were not without criticism, especially in their heyday. Upon their arrival on the popular music scene, many considered them a manufactured imitation of folk.[107] Their rather clean sound and muted lyricism made them unpopular among hippies in some circles.[1] Richie Unterberger of AllMusic writes that the duo "inhabited the more polished end of the folk-rock spectrum and was sometimes criticized for a certain collegiate sterility."[1] Many critics would later regard Simon's lyricism in his work with Simon & Garfunkel to pale in comparison to his later solo material.[1] In their later years, they became famous for their rocky relationship, which included "breaking up and making up about every dozen years."[104]



Grammy Awards[edit]

The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Simon & Garfunkel have won 10 total awards.[108]

Year Recipient Award Result
1969 "Mrs. Robinson" Record of the Year Won
Best Contemporary Pop Performance - Vocal Duo or Group Won
The Graduate Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special Won
1971 Bridge over Troubled Water Album of the Year Won
"Bridge over Troubled Water" Record of the Year Won
Song of the Year Won
Best Contemporary Song Won
Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) Won
Best Engineered Recording Won
2003 Simon & Garfunkel Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Won

Other recognition[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Richie Unterberger. "Simon & Garfunkel - All Music Guide". AllMusic. Retrieved September 22, 2014. 
  2. ^ Rebecca Raber (September 19, 2011). "Hive Five: Big Concerts With Big Draws". MTV. Retrieved April 3, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Episodes: Paul Simon". American Masters. Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved December 6, 2009. 
  4. ^ "The BRITs 1977 | The BRIT Awards 2012". October 18, 1977. Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  5. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time: Simon and Garfunkel, 'Bridge over Troubled Water'". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved July 25, 2012. 
  6. ^ Browne 2012, p. 31.
  7. ^ Fornatale 2007, p. 17.
  8. ^ a b c Fornatale 2007, p. 19.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Serpick, Evan (2001). The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1136 pp. First edition, 2001.
  10. ^ a b Richard Harrington (May 18, 2007). "Paul Simon, The Sound Of America". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  11. ^ Marc Eliot (2010). Paul Simon: A Life. John Wiley & Sons. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-470-43363-8. 
  12. ^ a b Fornatale 2007, p. 20.
  13. ^ Marc Eliot (2010). Paul Simon: A Life. John Wiley & Sons. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-470-43363-8. 
  14. ^ Marc Eliot (2010). Paul Simon: A Life. John Wiley & Sons. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-470-43363-8. 
  15. ^ a b Marc Eliot (2010). Paul Simon: A Life. John Wiley & Sons. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-470-43363-8. 
  16. ^ Marc Eliot (2010). Paul Simon: A Life. John Wiley & Sons. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-470-43363-8. 
  17. ^ a b Marc Eliot (2010). Paul Simon: A Life. John Wiley & Sons. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-470-43363-8. 
  18. ^ a b Marc Eliot (2010). Paul Simon: A Life. John Wiley & Sons. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-470-43363-8. 
  19. ^ Fornatale 2007, p. 22.
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