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Simon, Paul (13 October 1941-Present)

Paul Frederic Simon received his first guitar for his thirteenth birthday and a few months later performed live for the first time with school chum Arthur Garfunkel. While still in his teens, he was already recording, frequently under the aliases Paul Kane, Jerry Landis, and True Taylor. He enjoyed some moderate success, hitting #99 with “Motorcycle” (in yet another guise, “Tico” of Tico & The Triumphs) and #97 with “The Lone Teen Ranger” (as Jerry Landis).

Paul struck up a friendship with another budding songwriter, Carole King, and they recorded some demo tapes, billing themselves as The Cosines. She showed him the ropes of the studio scene, and soon he was producing records for Ritchie Cordell, Dougie & The Dubs, The Fashions, and Jay Walker & The Pedestrians. Somehow, he found time to attend and graduate from Queen’s College with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature. After graduation, Paul took a trip to England, and teamed up with The Seekers’ Bruce Woodley to collaborate on several songs, including “Red Rubber Ball”, which The Cyrkle took to #2 in the States. He also recorded his first solo LP, The Paul Simon Song Book.

By the turn of the decade, Paul was wed to his manager’s ex-wife, Peggy Harper, and divorced from Art Garfunkel. He dabbled a little bit in teaching; one of his students was Melissa Manchester; and eventually moved to San Francisco where he worked on his eponymous sophomore album. Paul Simon would yield a pair of hits, “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard” and “Mother and Child Reunion”. He followed this up with 1973’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, famous for “Kodachrome” and “Loves Me Like A Rock”, which went to #1 and #3 in the U.S., respectively. The album peaked at #2 on the Billboard Top 200.

In 1974, an ill-fated recording date might have reunited Simon & Garfunkel, along with John Lennon and Harry Nilsson, but friction between John and Paul aborted the session. A year later, Simon & Garfunkel did reunite briefly, on Saturday Night Live, where they sang “My Little Town”, a new composition that Paul had written for Art, but which wound up becoming a duet at Art’s insistence, and subsequently appeared on both of their solo releases, including Paul’s 1975 album, Still Crazy After All These Years. It won Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards, where Paul, tongue firmly planted in cheek, gave special thanks to Stevie Wonder for not releasing an album in 1975.

A southpaw, who plays the guitar right-handed, but does just about everything else left-handed; including playing squash; Paul was beset with calcium deposits in his squash-playing hand, which messed with his guitar playing for a while. He would make many appearances on Saturday Night Live during his career, including one on Thanksgiving 1976 with George Harrision, where they duetted on “Here Comes The Sun” and “Homeward Bound”. Paul befriended Lorne Michaels, who produced Saturday Night Live, and Lorne handled production duties on 1977’s The Paul Simon Special. His foray into acting must have struck a chord; so to speak; because he also appeared in Woody Allen’s Oscar-winning comedy Annie Hall, in which he played hipper-than-thou Tony Lacey. Art and Paul shared a girlfriend; in a way; Laurie Bird, who played Tony’s girlfriend, was Art’s significant other at the time.

The same year saw the release of Paul’s Greatest Hits, Etc., which included “Slip Slidin’ Away”. His acting aspirations led to the ambitious film project, One Trick Pony, which Paul wrote the script and songs for, and starred in. It flopped, but produced the hit “Late in the Evening”, as well as the title track. After this cinematic misadventure, he went through a period of writer’s block and wound up seeking help from a psychiatrist. Shortly thereafter, he met and wed actress Carrie Fisher, but their marriage was riddled with problems, and lasted all of eleven months.

Paul hit the road for a twelve-concert tour of the U.S. in 1984. A year later, he was one of a plethora of artists to record “We Are The World”, pairing up with Kenny Rogers, no less. In 1986, Paul released Graceland, and the album and title track both won Grammy Awards the following year, and spawned a world-wide tour. He was honoured with the British Phonographic Industry Award in 1987. Three years hence, Paul released The Rhythm of the Saints and was inducted, along with Art, as a duo, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 1991, he returned to Central Park for a concert, where he and Art had performed a decade earlier, and this time was joined by Saturday Night Live alumnus Chevy Chase, who had famously appeared in the video of “You Can Call Me Al”. Paul married for the third time in 1992 to fellow musician Edie Brickell, and they have since had three children. (They met; where else; on the set of Saturday Night Live.) He made another television appearance on 3rd June of that year on MTV Unplugged. In 1993, Paul Simon Box Set – 1964/1993, was released. Simon & Garfunkel briefly reunited for a benefit concert for The Children’s Health Fund, a philanthropic organization Paul had helped found in the 1980s.

He holds the distinction of being one of a handful of artists on the last album released by Carl Perkins, 1996’s Go Cat Go, which contains a song co-penned by Carl and Paul, simply titled “Rockabilly Music”. If Paul’s recording output seemed to be waning, it’s because he was working on a musical entitled The Capeman. It took seven years to write and lasted a whopping ten weeks on Broadway. Nevertheless, Paul was nominated for Best Original Musical Score at the 1998 Tony Awards. A year later, he hit the road for a landmark tour with Bob Dylan. He also recorded his first album of new material in a decade, You’re the One, which was nominated for a Grammy Award the following year. The album spawned a European tour. The same year, Paul was inducted; for the second time; into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this time as a solo artist. Marc Anthony, who had performed in The Capeman,presented.

On 7th December 2002, he was recognized at The Kennedy Center Honors, the highest such accolade for an American performing artist. As if that wasn’t enough, Simon & Garfunkel were honoured the following year with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys, where they duetted on “The Sounds of Silence”. The reunion sparked another tour, entitled Old Friends, which ran well into 2004. Another boxed set, The Paul Simon Studio Recordings 1972-2000, was released the same year, as well as; at long last;The Paul Simon Songbook, replete with extra tracks. BMI honoured him with their BMI Icon award on 17th May 2005. Later on, in the September of that year, he appeared as a guest musician with Jimmy Buffett at Madison Square Garden.

He did a 180 musically by collaborating with Brian Eno on Surprise, which hit the shelves on 9th May 2006. A couple of months later, a collection of artists, including Holly Cole, Elvis Costello, Jamie Cullum, and Allen Toussaint, honoured Paul by performing his music at the International Jazz Festival in Montreal, Quebec. He made his twelfth appearance on Saturday Night Live on 13th May 2006, in support of his latest album, and quickly followed that up with a tour of the States. In 2007, the Library of Congress gave Paul the first-ever Gershwin Prize. He was joined by Art and they duetted on “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Cecilia”.

He released further solo albums and toured with Sting and gave his farewell tour in 2018 after announcing his retirement from performing.

Simon & Garfunkel recordings
The Sounds of Silence (Paul Simon)
We’ve Got A Groovey Thing Goin’ (Paul Simon)