It’s a little bit easier to form a band when you go to school together. While most elementary school children were playing ball, jumping rope and being wild, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were busy spending recess learning to harmonize with each other. It was 1953, and the two not only began to sing together at their Queens, New York elementary school, but they also began writing their first songs together.
They idolized the Everly Brothers enough that their goofing around actually got them some minor success in 1957 as young teenagers recording under the name ‘Tom & Jerry.’ 1963 came around, and the boys became well-aware of the burgeoning folk music scene of the 60s. So much so that their style began to focus on this sound, which earned them a spot in the Columbia Records stable of artists, and a name change to simply ‘Simon & Garfunkel.’
Their first album was a failure, so they decided to disband. It was then that Paul Simon made his way to England in June of 1965 as a solo artist, producing a new version of “The Sound of Silence,” overdubbed with electric guitar and drums. The song saw major airplay on US radio stations, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100. It was then the band re-formed and released their second album, Sounds of Silence, touring colleges nationwide.
1966 saw the duo gain greater control of their creativity and sound away from the record company, and into a successful third release, Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme. But in 1967, Simon & Garfunkel would see a massive leap in popularity with the inclusion of their music in the soundtrack of the 1967 Oscar-winning classic, The Graduate. By 1968, they had already produced Bookends, topping the Billboard 200 chart with it, and featuring the Graduate’s smash hit song, Mrs. Robinson.
The duo’s best-selling album came before their 1970 breakup once again, in the form of Bridge Over Troubled Water. Their rocky friendship often seemed to get in the way, as the band re-united several times in different spans of years, the most successful reuniting coming during the 1981 Concert in Central Park, where the gentlemen saw a half million people descend on the park to enjoy the show.
Since then, Paul Simon has enjoyed an equally successful career as a solo artist and even dabbled in a bit of acting. Both artists continue to separately produce new music and occasionally tour.
Together, they’ve both managed to score 10 Grammy Awards, an induction into the Rock Hall in 1990, and over 100 million lifetime record sales.