Simon & Garfunkel were a music duo made up of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. During the height of their career in the 1960s, they were one of the best-selling music groups of their time, with some of their greatest hits including, "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Mrs. Robinson," and "The Boxer," among others. However, although they were a successful pair musically, they had a rocky relationship that eventually led to them breaking up in 1970. Although they have reunited numerous times, they still haven't made amends. Take a deeper look into the lives and careers of Simon and Garfunkel and what makes them such a notable pair of musicians.
They Met in School
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were both raised in the predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Forest Hills in Queens, New York. The two met in school during the sixth grade in 1953, and they both performed in their school play of Alice in Wonderland: Simon playing the White Rabbit and Garfunkel playing the Cheshire Cat.
According to Garfunkel, "As I entered Parsons Junior High where the tough kids were, Paul Simon became my one and only friend. We saw each other's uniqueness. We smoked our first cigarettes. We had retreated from all other kids. And we laughed."
They Initially Called Themselves Tom & Jerry
The two then started playing in a doo-wop group called the Peptones, playing at school dances. They paid $25 to record a few songs they wrote where they were overhead by Sid Rosen, who signed them to the independent label Big Records. The duo was just fifteen years old at the time.
Under Big Records, the two went under the name Tom & Jerry, where their music began to gain traction on the radio. Afterward, they attended separate colleges and released solo tracks, coming together once again, only to split up shortly after.
A Desperate Reunion Resulted In One of Their Most Renowned Performances
By 1980, the former duo's solo careers were not going as well as expected. New York's declining economy meant that fewer people were paying for entertainment. Promoter Ron Delsener suggested that the two reunite for a free concert in Central Park that could help boost both of their careers.
The two agreed, and on September 19, 1981, the concert was held with an audience of 500,000, the largest-ever concert attendance. Not long after, Warner Bros. released the live album The Concert in Central Park, which went on to be double platinum in the US and sparked a new interest in their music.
Art Garfunkel Has Walked Across The United States
Art Garfunkel began long-distance walking when he was touring Japan, and decided it would be interesting to walk from one end to the other. After completing his goal, he decided that his next step would be to walk across the United States.
So in 1983, he began his trek across the country. He didn't do it in one go. Instead, Garfunkel completed the trek over the course of 14 years, doing multiple segments per year. Finishing his walk across the US in 1994, he announced his plans to walk from Ireland to Istanbul which he ended up completing in 2014.
They Never Intended To Be A Folk-Rock Act
Although the success of their songs such as "Sound of Silence" is credited with spurring the popularity of folk-rock in the 1960s and 70s, it turns out that was never their intention. When they recorded "Silence," it was like the majority of the rest of the songs on their 1964 debut album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., which was all acoustic.
However, the album essentially failed, and the two split up. Without telling anyone, producer Tom Wilson remixed the song, adding electric guitar, bass, and drums, turning the song into what we know today. The success of the new version resulted in the two reuniting and the true start of their music career.
Their Hit Song "Mrs. Robinson Was Almost "Mrs. Roosevelt"
Written for the iconic film The Graduate, and regarded as one of the greatest movie hits of all time, "Mrs. Robinson" almost wasn't the song we all know and love. When Simon and Garfunkel were approached by CBS's Mike Nichols about contributing songs for The Graduate, they already had a song ready which turned out to be "Mrs. Robinson."
However, before the film was released, the duo usually sang the song as "Mrs. Roosevelt." When Nichols learned that the duo already had a song called "Mrs. Roosevelt," he insisted that they change the name to "Mrs. Robinson" for the movie, and they did.
They Had A TV Special That Didn't Do Very Well
The duo's lyrics in their songs demonstrated their liberal views, as well as their outlook on the political climate at the time. So, in 1969, they helped produce an hour-long CBS television special titled Songs of America. The special featured a lot of touchy subjects at the time.
Due to the special's controversial content, their AT&T sponsor pulled out and was picked up by Alberto V05. Released in November 1969, it was only broadcast once and did not receive glowing reviews.
"The Boxer" Took Over 100 Hours To Record
Appearing on their fifth studio album, Bridge Over Troubled Water, "The Boxer" was released as the lead single on March 21, 1969. The song is written by Paul Simon with the lyrics being semi-autobiographical as well as alluding to the Bible.
The song was a follow up to "Mrs. Robinson," peaking at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. The track is considered to be one of Simon and Garfunkel's best-produced songs, taking over 100 hours to record across several locations. Rolling Stone ranked it No.105 on their 50 Greatest Songs Of All Time.
Their 80's "Reunion Album" Did Terribly
After the success of their performance at Central Park and the live studio album that followed, the pair decided to reunite once again in 1981 to create a new album. It would be their first new album since 1970's Think Too Much. While fans were promised a Simon & Garfunkel album, unfortunately, that's not what they got due to creative differences between the two.
The artists butted heads so frequently that it resulted in Garfunkel quitting. This left Simon with a lot of songs and no album but decided to record them anyway, releasing them as a solo album in 1983 called Heart and Bones. Unsurprisingly, the album flopped.
Paul Simon Was On A United Nations Boycott List
Although his music isn't considered to be all that controversial, he still managed to get on the bad side of the United Nations. In 1987, Simon was placed on the United Nation's boycott list for recording some of his songs from the Graceland album in South Africa.
The UN had begun a cultural boycott against South Africa due to the country's support of apartheid. Hence, Simon recording there was viewed as morally wrong. Simon wasn't happy about the boycott against him and wrote a letter claiming that he could never actually perform in South Africa. His plan worked and he was taken off of the boycott list.
They Broke Their Own Record
In 2004, during one of their few reunion tours, Simon and Garfunkel had the chance to perform at the Roman Colosseum. It was there that they performed in front of 600,000 people.
However, they didn't actually play inside of the Colosseum, considering how old it is and how many people it can fit. Instead, they played on the street outside for an audience of 600,000, breaking the world record they set for the largest performance of 500,000 at Central Park.
Art Garfunkel Is An Avid Reader
Not only does Art Garfunkel enjoy reading, but he also likes to share what he's read with his fans. On his website, he lists just about every book that he has read in the past 50 years or so.
He writes the title, the author, the year of publication, the month and year that he read it, and how many pages it was. However, he leaves it at that. and doesn't comment whether he like it or not. Yet, on a separate page, he has a list of all of his personal favorites. Easily, his most unique entry is the dictionary, which he included in his list in March 1993.
Garfunkel Taught Geometry
During a period of time in the '70s when Simon and Garfunkel were separated, Simon was experiencing a successful solo career, whereas Garfunkel became a teacher. After Simon and Garfunkel first broke up in 1964, Garfunkel went back to school to get his teaching degree.
Then, in 1971, he took a job as a geometry teacher at a private school in Connecticut. However, the job didn't last long, and he was on the road touring again within nine months of initially taking the job.
Garfunkel Lost His Voice For Four Years
Garfunkel isn't recognized as the primary songwriter for Simon & Garfunkel, he's better known for his voice, especially on songs such as "Bridge Over Troubled Water." However, he began to lose his voice after choking on a piece of lobster and began having trouble swallowing.
According to his doctor, one of his vocal cords was inflamed, making it difficult for him to reach higher notes. Although he almost stopped performing completely, eventually he began to offer private shows as he gained his confidence back.
Bob Dylan Declined Working With Paul Simon
While working on his 2011 album So Beautiful Or So What, Paul Simon reached out to Bob Dylan to see if he would have been interested in recording a duet together. Simon assumed that the two were on good terms considering that they had toured together in 1999.
However, Bob Dylan never even responded to Simon's request for unknown reasons. On the subject, Simon stated, "I thought it would be nice if he sang that, since his voice has become so weathered I thought he would sound like a sage. I sent it to him, but I didn't hear back. I don't know why."
"The Sound Of Silence" Was Covered By A Heavy Metal Band
In 2015, the heavy metal band Disturbed covered Simon and Garfunkel's hit track "The Sound of Silence." The cover reached the No.1 spot on the Billboard Hard Rock Digital Songs and Mainstream Rock Charts, and is the band's highest-charting song on the Hot 100, topping at No.42.
David Drainmna, the lead singer of Disturbed commented, "It's a song that my parents can play for their friends with pride without having to warn them not to be frightened ahead of time. I have fans saying, 'Finally, me and my mom can actually agree on music for once!'"
Bridge Over Troubled Water Topped The Charts For 10 Weeks
Released in January 1970, Bridge Over Troubled Water was the fifth and final studio album by Simon & Garfunkel. Although the duo split up not long after, the album contained two of the pair's most successful songs which were "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "The Boxer," both listed on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The album itself was a massive success, topping the chart in ten countries, and remaining at No.1 for ten weeks in the United States. The album went on to sell 25 million copies and was named No.51 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Garfunkel Spent Some Time Acting
Art Garfunkel met director Mike Nichols while working together as Simon and Garfunkel provided music for his film The Graduate. After the graduate, Garfunkel acted in two of Mike Nichols' other films. In 1970, he appeared in Catch-22 playing Lieutenant Nately and Carnal Knowledge as the character Sandy.
He even earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Carnal Knowledge. Garfunkel continued to act throughout the years with his latest performance being in The Rebound in 2010.
Paul Simon Met His Third Wife Thanks To Saturday Night Live
Paul Simon met his third wife, singer Edie Brickell, when she was performing under Edie Brickell & New Bohemians on the set of Saturday Night Live in 1988. Brickell noticed Simon standing next to the cameraman watching her, and the two became infatuated with each other.
Simon introduced himself and the two went on to become romantic, eventually, marrying in 1992 and remaining together ever since. The couple has three children named Adrian, Lulu, and Gabriel.
Art Garfunkel Is A Poet
Garfunkel has admitted that he didn't grow up in a house that necessarily valued literature as he does today, and he didn't become an avid reader until entering Columbia University in 1959. It was also then that he became interested in poetry.
While touring in Switzerland between 1981 and 1982, Garfunkel first began writing poetry, eventually releasing a collection of prose poetry titled Still Water that was well-received. His poetry focuses on his depression over the loss of his father, a companion who passed away, and his relationship with Paul Simon and music.