Paul Simon

Singer/songwriter Paul Simon has enjoyed one of the longest and most

acclaimed careers of any musician still active in the music world

today.

Simon was born 58 years ago today in Newark, N.J. While in sixth grade

in Forest Hills, N.Y., he began harmonizing with his school friend,

tenor Art Garfunkel.

The duo stuck with their singing and, as Tom and Jerry, had a top-50

hit in 1957 with an original song, "Hey Schoolgirl." After being

unable to follow the song with another hit, they split.

Simon had a few minor hits without Garfunkel, one as the solo act

Jerry Landis and another with the group Tico & the Triumphs. After

dropping out of law school in 1964, he succeeded in selling one of

his songs to Columbia Records, which signed a reunited Simon and

Garfunkel (as they now called themselves) as a folk act.

Simon and Garfunkel's Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. (1964)

flopped. Simon, by then living in the UK, was signed as a solo act

by CBS Records, which issued The Paul Simon Song Book (1965).

Meanwhile, however, producer Tom Wilson didn't give up on Simon and

Garfunkel.

Because folk-rock was hot, Wilson took the acoustic track "Sounds of

Silence" from the duo's debut LP and added electric instrumentation.

He issued the song in October 1965, and the cut hit #1 in the States.

For the remainder of the '60s, the pair were one of pop's most

successful acts. They scored hits with such Simon compositions

as "I Am a Rock" and "Homeward Bound." Simon and Garfunkel had a smash

with "Mrs. Robinson," from their soundtrack to the seminal 1968 film

"The Graduate."

The pair began to bicker, though, and split following their most

popular album, Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970), which yielded

a hit single in the title ballad.

Simon launched a solo career with his eponymous 1970 solo LP, which

spawned the hits "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" and "Mother

and Child Reunion." The former track's Latin influence was the first

sign that Simon intended to further explore the world rhythms he had

used on such Simon and Garfunkel songs as "El Condor Pasa."

There Goes Rhymin' Simon (1973) featured the hits "Kodachrome"

and "Loves Me Like a Rock." Still Crazy After All These Years,

Simon's next LP, won the 1975 Grammy Award for Album of the Year and

included the #1 "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover."

After a few less popular LPs, Simon returned with Graceland,

which merged rock with world rhythms and the lilting refrains of West

African Highlife music. The album — much of which included South

African musicians — won the 1986 Album of the Year Grammy. It

featured tracks such as "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes."

Simon next incorporated West African, Brazilian and zydeco rhythms on

The Rhythm of the Saints (1990). The well-received LP featured

the single "The Obvious Child."

In 1990 Simon and Garfunkel were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall

of Fame. After issuing a box set in 1993 and staging a tour with

Garfunkel, Simon tackled Broadway with his musical "The Capeman." The

show was slammed by critics and closed quickly, but yielded Songs

From the Capeman (1997), featuring "Born in Puerto Rico"

(RealAudio

excerpt).

This year Simon toured with Bob Dylan.

Other birthdays: Robert Lamm (Chicago), 55; Sammy Hagar, 52;

Craig MacGregor (Foghat), 50; Simon Nicol (Fairport Convention), 49;

John Ford Coley (England Dan and John Ford Coley), 48;

Marie Osmond, 40; and Jan Van Sichem Jr. (K's Choice), 27.