Simon And Garfunkel

Paul Frederic Simon and Arthur Ira Garfunkel, born only three weeks apart in 1941, were best friends all through their childhood as they grew up in Queens, NY. They both shared a great love for music, although Paul Simon proved much more talented when it came to songwriting. They started practicing their guitars and making tapes in each other's basements and later teamed up as Tom And Jerry, taking the names of the cartoon characters. In the Winter of 1957-58, they scored a #54 hit with "Hey Schoolgirl". Both were 16 years old.

Simon continued to try to record hits in the late '50s and early '60s, reaching #99 on the Billboard chart in 1962 in the group Tico And The Triumphs with "Motorcycle", and #100 under the name Jerry Landis in 1963 with "The Lone Teen Ranger". He and Garfunkel teamed up again as a Folk duo in Greenwich Village, signed to Columbia Records, and released the LP "Wednesday Morning 3 A.M." in October 1964. The album flopped initially, but Simon, who had been spending a lot of time in England, was picked up as a solo artist by CBS and recorded "The Paul Simon Songbook", released only in Great Britain in the Spring of 1965.

In 1966, Paul was performing as a solo act in Europe when word reached him that "The Sounds Of Silence" had reached #1 in the US. Paul was stunned. He had no idea that the record had even been released. He soon found out that Columbia Records producer Tom Wilson had lifted the song from the album "Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M." and added electric guitars, bass and drums to the original track of just Paul and Art singing along with Paul's guitar. Such a sudden burst of fame would have taken most artists by surprise and Simon and Garfunkel were no exception. They quickly reunited, recorded another album and appropriately labeled it "Sounds Of Silence". The next year brought hit songs like "I Am A Rock", a song about self-pity written in almost a sarcastic way, that rose to #3 on the Hot 100 chart. There was also "Homeword Bound", the story of a wanderer who longs to return home. It was written almost sloppily, but rose to #3 in America.

Paul's reputation as a song writer grew when a group called Harper's Bazar took his "The 59th Street Bridge Song",("Feelin' Groovy") to the US Top Ten. He and Art continued their own success streak in 1966 and 1967 with "A Hazy Shade Of Winter" (#13), "Scarborough Fair" (#11), "At The Zoo" (#16) and "Fakin It" (#13). Another Paul Simon composition, "Red Rubber Ball", reached #2 sold over 800,000 copies for a band called "The Cyrkle" in 1966. In 1968, Simon and Garfunkel scored yet another hit with the theme for the movie The Graduate, called "Mrs. Robinson". The Dustin Hoffman film was a smash and the song rose to the top spot on the Billboard chart and won two Grammys.

Perhaps Paul Simon's most personal song, "The Boxer" tells a story that only a great writer could express. Even though its chorus is illegible, the song rose to #7 in America, and is an example of Simon's talent as a writer, not to mention Simon and Garfunkel the singers. Simon's hauntingly beautiful, "Bridge Over Troubled Water", is truly a magnificent piece of work. It was seated at the top position on the charts for six weeks in early 1970, showcasing Art's magnificent voice. The duo's success continued as "Cecilia" peaked at the #4 position that Spring. "El Condor Pasa (If I Could)" topped out at #18 in October.

Even though the two had been friends since childhood, personal differences were tearing Simon and Garfunkel apart and the two decided to pursue solo careers in 1970. Paul returned to solo work with the album "Paul Simon", in January, 1972, which could not hope to match the success of "Bridge", but which did sell a million copies and feature the reggae-tinged Top Ten single "Mother and Child Reunion" in early 1972. The album "There Goes Rhymin' Simon", in May 1973, was another million-seller, containing the hits "Kodachrome" (#2) and "Loves Me like a Rock" (#2). After a 1974 live album, Simon released "Still Crazy After All These Years" in October of 1975, which topped the charts, won the Grammy for Album of the Year, and included the #1 hit "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover".

Meanwhile, Art Garfunkel didn't begin a solo singing career until 1973. Between 1970 and 1973 he acted, appearing in two Mike Nichols films, Catch 22 and >Carnal Knowledge. "Angel Clare", his first solo record, was co-produced with Simon And Garfunkel producer Roy Halee and released in the Fall of 1973. It established the style, a light, carefully arranged and constructed melodic Soft-Rock that he would follow throughout his solo career. The album became a Top Ten hit on the strength of the single "All I Know", which peaked at #9. Two years later, he returned with the Richard Perry-produced "Breakaway", the most successful album of his solo career. The record peaked at #7, with a version of The Flamingos' "I Only Have Eyes for You" reaching #18 on the U.S. charts. In Britain, the single topped the charts. That same Fall, he reunited with Paul Simon for the first time, performing on US TV's Saturday Night Live. In December, Simon's "My Little Town", featuring Garfunkel on backing vocals, became a Top Ten hit.

Paul Simon took his time following his early solo success, though he did release a greatest hits album featuring a new tune, "Slip Slidin' Away" (#5), and contributed to a remake of "What a Wonderful World" (#17) with Garfunkel and James Taylor. Moving to Warner Brothers Records, he wrote and starred in the film One Trick Pony in August 1980, the soundtrack of which contained the US #6 hit "Late in the Evening".

In 1979, Art recorded an album titled, "Fate For Breakfast". Although it performed well in Britain, reaching #2, the album signalled that his American audience was beginning to shrink. None of the singles made the Top 40 and the album only reached number 67. In the Fall of 1979, he filmed two movies, Bad Timing and Illusions. Another album called "Scissors Cut", a reunion with producer Roy Halee released in 1981, did nothing to reverse Art's sliding commercial potential. It didn't even break into the Top 100 albums. After the release of "Scissors Cut", Simon And Garfunkel reunited for a concert in New York's Central Park. The concert was so successful, the duo decided to embark on a year-long world tour. During that trek, tensions mounted between the pair and they split again after it was completed.

Another two years passed before Simon returned with "Hearts and Bones" in October 1983, which did not match his usual level of commercial success. Simon experimented with songwriting styles and became interested in South African music, resulting in "Graceland" in August 1986, which became his biggest selling solo album and won him still another Album Of The Year Grammy. After a lengthy quiet period, Garfunkel re-emerged in 1988 with "Lefty", which spent a mere eight weeks in the American charts and failed to make the British charts at all.

After a four year break, Paul released, "The Rhythm Of The Saints" in October 1990, which did for Brazilian music what "Graceland" had done for South African music and was another multi-Platinum seller. Simon played a free concert in Central Park in August 1991, ten years after he and Garfunkel had done one, and released a live album from the show. In 1993, Warner Brothers released a boxed set retrospective on Simon's career, and he undertook a tour that featured Garfunkel on their old hits, as well as covering other aspects of his time in show business. Art did not release another album until 1993's rarities compilation "Up 'til Now". Following its release, he took another extended break, returning in 1997 with the live album "Across America". In early 2000, Art was seen doing public service commercials for the American Red Cross. The curly haired boy that appeared with him, was Art's son. Paul, meanwhile, released "You're the One" in 2000. In the September of 2003, it was announced that Simon And Garfunkel would appear together at several concerts from October to December, as well as maintaining their solo tours.

Very little was heard from the pair for a while, but in the Spring of 2006, 64-year-old Paul Simon announced a new album called "Surprise". For this effort, he had an unlikely new collaborator, Brian Eno, the avant-garde artist best known for his musical work with Robert Fripp, Talking Heads, David Bowie and U2. In May, 2007, Simon And Garfunkel sang together again at a concert commemorating Paul's receipt of the Library of Congress' first Gershwin Award, recognizing contributions to the popular song as an art form. Simon also embraced Garfunkel, recognizing an award-winning and best-selling musical partnership that dated back to the 1950s, but has been marked by long spells of estrangement. He introduced Art by saying: "My dear friend and partner in arguments, Art Garfunkel," before they launched into "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Cecilia".

When Paul Simon helped re-opened New York's legendary Beacon Theatre on February 13th, 2009, he brought out his old friend Art Garfunkel to sing three songs: "Sound of Silence", "The Boxer", and "Old Friends". On April 2nd of that year, the duo announced a tour of Australia, New Zealand and Japan for June and July. They performed together again on October 29th and 30th at the Roll Hall of Fame concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden. In March, 2010, Simon And Garfunkel announced a thirteen date Spring tour to start with a performance at the New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival. Much of that tour was slated for Canada, with four shows in America's upper Midwest. Unfortunately on June 17th, 2010, that tour was postponed indefinitely as Garfunkel continued to recover from a vocal cord paresis, which is the inability of one or both vocal cords to move. In 2011, Paul's widely acclaimed LP "So Beautiful or So What" was released to great reviews. In 2012, still showed no pending shows for the duo.

August, 2012 brought news that Art's voice had regained its strength and that he was able to issue a new, two-disc, 34-track, album called "The Singer", which was supported by a short tour scheduled for the Autumn. Unfortunately, his comeback was premature and the rest of his shows in Sweden and America had to be scrapped due to ongoing voice problems. Paul Simon announced in November, 2013 that he and Sting would embark on a North American tour together in 2014. In December, Art Garfunkel told the press that 'The voice is back' and that he was slated to appear at a four-week American theater tour kicking off January 29th in Franklin, Tennessee.

In early May, 2014, Paul was in the news for all the wrong reasons when he and his wife, 48-year-old Edie Brickell, were arrested on disorderly conduct charges following a domestic dispute. A month later, those charges were dropped and the couple returned to their everyday life with apologies all around. The following November, Simon announced that his official biography was in the works, with long-time Los Angeles Times music critic Robert Hilbur serving as head writer.

In February, 2016, Paul Simon announced that he was scheduled to perform a series of shows in the U.S. beginning in late April and wrapping up at the end of June. The tour would support his latest album, "Stranger To Stranger", his first new studio release since 2011. In mid-April, the 52-year-old track "The Sounds Of Silence" made a surprise return to the Billboard charts when it debuted at #6 on the Hot Rock Songs chart as well as #2 on the Streaming Rock Songs chart. The song was featured in a video that showed actor Ben Affleck looking pensive as his Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Freedom co-star Henry Cavill discussed the negative reviews given to their new movie.

However popular the duo of Simon And Garfunkel remained, the chances of a reunion seemed seem very slim. When a reporter from Rolling Stone asked Paul Simon about it, he replied "No. Out of the question. We don't even talk." Unlike Simon, Art Garfunkel left the door open, saying "Will I do another tour with Paul? Well, that's quite do-able. Why not, while we're still alive?"

In early February, 2017, Garfunkel announced that his memoir, What Is It All But Luminous: Notes From an Underground Man, would hit book store shelves on September 26th. The book was said to detail Art's boyhood in Queens, meeting Paul Simon, their phenomenal recording success, their constant disagreements, losing his voice and gaining it back. He was also preparing to continue his In Close-Up world tour in Europe and North America. In March of that year, Paul Simon revealed plans for a sixteen date tour across the United States. In early 2018 he announced that his current tour, which included stops in the U.S., Canada and Europe, would be his last. Slated to start May 16, Simon was scheduled to play his final show on September 22nd at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York. In a statement to the press, Paul said, "It feels a little unsettling, a touch exhilarating and something of a relief." A new album called "In The Blue Light", that features fresh perspectives on ten of Paul's favorite songs, was set for release on September 7th.

For more, be sure to read Gary James' interview with Art Garfunkel

Larry Knechtel of the group Bread is the piano player on 'Bridge Over Troubled Waters'.