Simon & Garfunkel
Simon & Garfunkel was an American folk rock duo consisting of singer-songwriter Paul Simon and singer Art Garfunkel. They were one of the best-selling music groups of the 1960s and became counterculture icons of the decade’s social revolution, alongside artists such as the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Bob Dylan. Their biggest hits—including “The Sound of Silence” (1964), “Mrs. Robinson” (1968), “The Boxer” (1969), and “Bridge over Troubled Water” (1970)—reached number one on singles charts worldwide.
Their often rocky relationship led to artistic disagreements, which resulted in their breakup in 1970. Their final studio record, Bridge over Troubled Water (released in January of that year), was their most successful, becoming one of the world’s best-selling albums. Since their split in 1970 they have reunited several times, most famously in 1981 for “The Concert in Central Park”, which attracted more than 500,000 people, the seventh-largest concert attendance in history. They are one of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 100 million records.
The duo met in elementary school in Queens, New York, in 1953, where they learned to harmonize together and began writing original material. By 1957, under the name Tom & Jerry, the teenagers had their first minor success with “Hey Schoolgirl”, a song imitating their idols The Everly Brothers. Afterwards, the duo went their separate ways, with Simon making unsuccessful solo records. In 1963, aware of a growing public interest in folk music, they regrouped and were signed to Columbia Records as Simon & Garfunkel. Their début, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., sold poorly, and they once again disbanded; Simon returned to a solo career, this time in England. In June 1965, their song “The Sound of Silence” was overdubbed, adding electric guitar and a drumkit to the original 1964 recording. This later version became a major U.S. AM radio hit in 1965, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
They reunited, releasing their second studio album Sounds of Silence and touring colleges nationwide. On their third release, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966), the duo assumed more creative control. Their music was featured in the 1967 film The Graduate, giving them further exposure. Bookends (1968), their next album, topped the Billboard 200 chart and included the number-one single “Mrs. Robinson” from the film.
After their 1970 breakup following the release of Bridge over Troubled Water, they both continued recording, Simon releasing a number of highly acclaimed albums, including 1986’s Graceland. Garfunkel also briefly pursued an acting career, with leading roles in two Mike Nichols films, Catch-22 and Carnal Knowledge, and in Nicolas Roeg’s 1980 Bad Timing, as well as releasing some solo hits such as “All I Know”.
Simon & Garfunkel won 10 Grammy Awards and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, and their Bridge over Troubled Water album was nominated at the 1977 Brit Awards for Best International Album. It is ranked at number 51 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Richie Unterberger described them as “the most successful folk-rock duo of the 1960s” and one of the most popular artists from the decade in general.