Simon and Garfunkel (Contemporary Musicians)
Arguably one of the most popular and successful duos of all time, Simon and Garfunkel were the preeminent poetic pop spokespersons in the United States during the heady and turbulent period of the mid to late 1960s. Simon and Garfunkel's music transcended genres as it effortlessly blended folk music with pure pop savvy, courtesy of Paul Simon's uncanny knack for creating and writing good hooks and melodies, but this was only part of the story. Art Garfunkel's sweetly soaring, heavenly bound vocals brought an innocent warmth to Simon's lyrics and music and helped to give it an innocent school boy appearance.
Simon and Garfunkel first met in the Forest Hills area of Queens, New York when they were performing in a sixth grade production of "Alice in Wonderland." They met again in 1955 when they were teenagers. It was around this time that they secured their first copyright when they registered their composition "The Girl for Me." The duo began to intermittently write and record songs together under the name Tom and Jerry. They recorded a demo at Sande's Recording Studio in New York City for the song "Hey Schoolgirl." A copy of the song managed to find its way to a representative of Big Records. They signed with Big and released "Hey Schoolgirl" in 1957. The single peaked at number 49 in America, enabling them to perform on the popular television program American Bandstand. Over the next five years, Tom and Jerry released three more singles on Big. Neither 1958's "Our Song," 1961's "I'll Drown in My Tears" nor 1962's "Surrender, Please Surrender" managed to chart. As time wore on, they drifted apart and pursued solo careers.
In 1964, Simon and Garfunkel reunited and decided to have another go at the music business. Dropping their earlier name, Tom and Jerry, the duo decided to use their real names They signed to Columbia Records in late 1964 and released their debut album Wednesday Morning 3AM in autumn of that year. Initially, Wednesday Morning 3AM fared poorly until Tom Wilson, who has signed the pair to Columbia, re-mixed one of the acoustic cuts on the album and released it as a single. Without the duo's knowledge, the song "Sound of Silence" was re-mixed with percussion and electric guitars in late 1965, and by January 1966, had topped the pop singles chart in America. A little over one month later, "Sound of Silence" was certified gold for sales of one million copies in America.
In March of 1966, Simon and Garfunkel's second album, Sounds of Silence, which included the re-mix of "Sound of Silence," hit number 21 on the American album chart, while a reissue of their debut album peaked at number 30. Their next single, "Homeward Bound," which was dedicated to Simon's girlfriend, peaked at number five on the American singles chart, and reached number nine in Britain. In October of 1966, Simon and Garfunkel released Parsley, Sage Rosemary and Thyme, which featured the singles "Homeward Bound," "Scarborough Fair/Canticle," and "Dangling Conversation." The album itself peaked at number four in December. Their next single, "Hazy Shade of Winter" peaked at number 13 that month, as well.
The duo continued to solidify their place in the pop music world throughout 1967. "At the Zoo" crashed the top 20 American singles chart in April, and on June 16, they closed the first day of the Monterey International Pop Festival in California. That August, their next single, "Fakin' It," made it to number 23 in America. It was around this time that Simon and Garfunkel were asked to contribute to the soundtrack for the film The Graduate. Bolstered by the inclusion of Simon and Garfunkel tracks, including "Mrs. Robinson," The Graduate soundtrack topped the American album chart late in the spring of 1968. May witnessed the release of the next Simon and Garfunkel album, Bookends, which contained "Fakin' It," "Hazy Shade of Winter," and "Mrs. Robinson." Bookends knocked The Graduate soundtrack out of the number one spot on the American album chart, in May of 1968.
By June of 1968, "Mrs. Robinson" had topped the American singles chart, and was certified gold a month later. The tremendous success of "Mrs. Robinson" earned Simon and Garfunkel their first of many Grammy Awards in 1969. "Mrs. Robinson" won Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Contemporary Vocal Performance by a Vocal Duo. The soundtrack for The Graduate won the Grammy for Best Original Score for a Motion Picture. Simon and Garfunkel's next single, "The Boxer," was a top ten hit in both America and England. They released their seminal album Bridge Over Troubled Water in early 1970. The phenomenal success of both the album and the title track would surpass the success of both "Mrs. Robinson" and The Graduate.
By the end of February, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" was a certified gold selling single and topped the American singles chart for the next six weeks. The album from which the single was culled from managed to top the American album chart by early March, where it stayed for the next ten weeks. In England, the album reached number one in late February and the single did likewise one month later. By the end of March, Simon and Garfunkel managed to top both the album and singles charts in Britain and America. "Cecilia" went top five in America in May and was certified gold the following month.
Simon and Garfunkel dominated the 1971 Grammy Awards ceremony. Their single, "Bridge Over Troubled Water, " took top honors for the Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Contemporary Song, and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists. The album Bridge Over Troubled Water won for Best Engineered Album and Album of the Year. Before the ceremony, however, Simon and Garfunkel had disbanded, due in no small part to Garfunkel's burgeoning acting career. As Garfunkel related to Rolling Stone, "I think that when I went off to make Catch 22 [in 1970], Paul was left feeling out of it and uncomfortably dependent. Looking back, I know, too, that I felt envious of Paul's writing and playing." After the break up both of them went solo to varying degrees of success.
Their Greatest Hits album was released in 1972 and made the top five in both America and England. After this, Simon and Garfunkel would periodically reform for live performances. In 1977, the duo was awarded the Britannia Award for the Best International Album and Single released in Britain between 1952-77 for Bridge Over Troubled Water. Five years later, Simon and Garfunkel reunited for the Concert in Central Park. This contract resulted in a live double album, released on Warner Brothers in 1982. In 1986, The Concert in Central Park, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, Bookends, and Bridge Over Troubled Water were all certified multiplatinum, in America. Simon and Garfunkel were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1990.
Wednesday Morning 3 AM, Columbia, 1964.
Sounds of Silence, Columbia, 1966.
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, Columbia, 1966.
The Graduate, Columbia, 1968.
Bookends, Columbia, 1968.
Bridge Over Troubled Water, Columbia, 1970.
Greatest Hits, Columbia, 1972.
Concert in Central Park, Warner Brothers, 1982.
Helander, Brock, ed. Rock Who's Who, second edition, Schirmer, 1996.
Rees, Dayfdd, and Luke Crampton, Encyclopedia of Rock Stars, DK, 1989.
Musician, January, 1994.
Rolling Stone, March 18, 1982.
"S&G Discography," http://www.discographynet.com/simongar/simongar.html (October 4, 1998).
"Simon and Garfunkel," (September 9, 1998).
Mary Alice Adams