Singer/songwriter Paul Simon has enjoyed one of the longest and most
acclaimed careers of any musician still active in the music world
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
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 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"
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.