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Who are Simon and Garfunkel?

By Kathy Hawkins
Updated May 23, 2024
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Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are a folk singing duo. They recorded many albums together during the 1960s, and were one of the most popular acts of that decade, with many chart-topping songs. They broke up in 1970, but have reunited several times over the years since then.

Simon and Garfunkel had been close friends ever since elementary school when they began performing together. Initially, they called their band Tom and Jerry, and their first album, Hey, Schoolgirl, was released under that name in 1957. The album reached number 49 on the Billboard charts, and sold over 100,000 copies.

Other albums released under the Tom and Jerry name did not meet the same level of success, and the duo put the band on hold while they were in college. In 1964, however, they reformed under the name Simon and Garfunkel, and released their first album for Columbia Records, Wednesday Morning, 3 AM. On its release, however, the album was a flop. The duo went their separate ways, and Paul Simon moved to England to work on a solo folk career.

In the summer of 1965, one track from Simon and Garfunkel's first album, "The Sound of Silence" became an unexpected hit. When radio stations began to play the song, their producer, Tom Wilson, decided to make the track more radio-friendly by adding electric guitars, bass, and drums to the original folk song, creating a new genre: folk rock. The remixed single hit number one on the music charts on 1 January 1966.

After the success of "The Sound of Silence," Simon and Garfunkel got back together to record another album. The Sounds of Silence, which included their hit single, hit #21 on the Billboard charts, and a re-released version of their first album hit #30. Many of the songs from this album are among the best-loved in the duo's discography, including the hit single "I Am A Rock."

Simon and Garfunkel continued to release music throughout the rest of the 1960s, and topped the charts several more times. One of their more famous tracks was "Scarborough Fair," which is based on an old English song. They became most successful, however, with the release of the soundtrack to the film, The Graduate. Simon and Garfunkel contributed songs for the film, which starred Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman. The film was a hit; it helped the album rise to the top of the charts, and made "Mrs. Robinson" one of their most famous songs.

Simon and Garfunkel's last album together was 1970's best-selling Bridge Over Troubled Water, which was hugely successful, selling over 14 million copies in the United States, and garnering several Grammy awards. However, personal tensions and different interests led the duo to call it quits in 1970. Since then, Paul Simon has gone on to a very successful solo career, and the duo have performed on several reunion tours.

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