Paul Simon

Active - 1968 - 2018  |   Born - Oct 13, 1941 in Newark, New Jersey, United States  |   Genres - Music, Comedy

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Rhymin' Paul Simon was writing songs with his future partner, Art Garfunkel, as far back as 1955, when both were high schoolers in Queens, NY. Achieving brief fame as the singing team of Tom and Jerry in 1957, Simon and Garfunkel broke up and re-teamed several times before "officially" emerging as Simon & Garfunkel in 1964. During this period, Simon attended Queens College as an English major, wrote songs for other recording artists, and worked as a rock show promoter. Largely a college campus attraction at first, Simon & Garfunkel attained mainstream popularity when they contributed the songs heard on the soundtrack of the 1967 film hit The Graduate. The two performers went their separate ways after the 1972 album Bridge Over Troubled Water. Like Garfunkel before him, Simon tentatively launched a film acting career, appearing as Diane Keaton's L.A.-based boyfriend in the Oscar-winning Annie Hall (1977). Thus far, Simon's only starring film has been 1980's One Trick Pony, in which he played an over-the-hill rock star planning a comeback. Paul Simon was once married to film actress Carrie Fisher, who nowadays has nothing but nice things to say about her former husband (which is more than can be said for her many ex-boyfriends).

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Factsheet

  • Had his first hit in 1957 with a singer he met in high school, Art Garfunkel: Billed as Tom and Jerry, they recorded "Hey Schoolgirl" when they were 16 years old.
  • His professional breakthrough, as songwriter and singer with Simon and Garfunkel in the 1960s, came for two major reasons: producer Tom Wilson's decision to add a rock backing to the acoustic song "The Sound of Silence" and heavy use of Simon and Garfunkel songs in the 1967 hit movie The Graduate.
  • One song featured in that film, "Mrs. Robinson," contained the line "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you." The Baseball Hall of Fame slugger was puzzled: He once pointed out to Simon he hadn't gone anywhere, and had just done a Mr. Coffee commercial.
  • Simon and Garfunkel broke up in 1970, at the time of the release of their most popular album, Bridge Over Troubled Water, as Garfunkel became focused on an acting career. Their song "The Only Living Boy in New York," later featured in the 2004 film Garden State, was inspired by the changes in their relationship.
  • The folk-rockers reunited over the years for lucrative tours, though their relationship remained strained.
  • Simon quickly rebounded from the breakup to become a huge success all over again, both critically and commercially, with such hits as "Still Crazy After All These Years" and "Slip Slidin' Away."
  • Had a bit part as an unlikable record-company executive in the 1977 movie Annie Hall and starred, effectively, as a struggling musician in the 1980 movie, One Trick Pony, which he wrote. 
  • His landmark musical achievement---one amid many heights---came with the 1986 release of the classic album Graceland, which used South African rhythms to underscore some of his most memorable songs, including "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" and the brilliant title cut.
  • Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, as a member of Simon and Garfunkel and as a solo artist.
  • On May 23, 2007 he was the first recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
  • A founder of the Children's Health Fund, which brings medical care to children in underserved areas in the United States.