Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel
Simon & Garfunkel were an American folk rock duo consisting of singer-songwriter Paul Simon and singer Art Garfunkel. They were one of the bestselling 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.
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. In 1963, aware of a growing public interest in folk music, they regrouped and were signed to Columbia Records as Simon & Garfunkel. Their debut, 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, a new version of “The Sound of Silence”, overdubbed with electric guitar and drums, became a major U.S. AM radio hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100. They reunited to release a second studio album, Sounds of Silence, and tour 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.
Their often rocky relationship led to artistic disagreements, which resulted in their breakup in 1970. Their final studio record, Bridge over Troubled Water, released that year, was their most successful, becoming one of the world’s best-selling albums. After their breakup, Simon released a number of acclaimed albums, including 1986’s Graceland. Garfunkel released some solo hits such as “All I Know”, and 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. The duo have reunited several times, most famously in 1981 for “The Concert in Central Park”, which attracted more than 500,000 people, one of the largest concert attendances in history.
Simon & Garfunkel won 10 Grammy Awards and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Bridge over Troubled Water 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. They are among the best-selling music artists, having sold more than 100 million records.