A Pair Of Lifelong Frenemies: The Dueling Simon And Garfunkel
Simon and Garfunkel are one of the greatest duos of all time, thanks to a unique blend of original lyrics, moving tunes, and great charisma. Their songs are so authentic that they are gladly listened even today, decades after their songs were recorded.
This duo had a dynamic relationship off and on the stage. They even separated a couple of times before they said a final goodbye. Here are the little known facts about this famous duo that will leave you speechless. Read on to discover how ‘Simon and Garfunkel’ were born and why did they split.
30. Becoming Tom & Jerry
The duo has been friends since their sixth grade. From a young age, they used to sing together and conduct their radio shows. In 1957, they signed to the independent company Big Records under the name Tom & Jerry.
Their first single was called Hey Schoolgirl, and it did well. The song even reached number 49 on the Billboard chart, selling 100,000 copies. This was massive, considering that they were only teenagers. At the time, they only earned $2,000 each.
29. A Pair of Bright Students
For years, the duo performed regularly as Tom & Jerry, which happened to be a fitting name considering their future as a pair of natural quarrelers. They enjoyed making music and meeting fans, but their primary focus was their studies.
Garfunkel studied architecture at Columbia University, but he switched to Art History and then completed a master’s in mathematics education. Simon earned an English literature degree from Queens College, CUNY, and then briefly studied Law in Brooklyn. All in, a bright future was ahead. Until one decided to do something different…
28. Feeling Betrayed
Reaching instant success in your 20s must be a big deal. Stepping into the unknown is much easier when you have good support. Still, one member decided that its time to go solo.
Simon went solo really fast, and Garfunkel wasn’t pleased. This move leads to a decade-long feud between these two. Garfunkel saw this move as a betrayal, and that feeling stuck with him.
27. They Didn’t Split Up
They had several cracks during the period, but they remain together. They met up again in the early ’60s and decided to join their forces once again, and they started performing again.
They started performing at folk clubs, and at that point, they figured that they were too old to be called Tom & Jerry. They wanted a different name, and even asked friends and family for a name suggestion, but no one could help them. Eventually, they made a decision.
26. Becoming Simon and Garfunkel
Since no one could help them with their band name, they decided to do it on their won. By default, they took their last names for the band’s name, and the rest is history.
Overnight they went from Tom and Jerry to Simon and Garfunkel. This name reflected their maturity, and it followed their success nicely, although it was a struggle in the embiggening.
25. Simon and Garfunkel Success
Changing the name wasn’t enough for instant success. Still, they released their first studio album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., in 1964. However, this album wasn’t as successful as they hoped it to be.
Simon couldn’t deal with this, and he decided to take another step and decided to move to England. At the time, he had no idea what the universe and their work will do combined.
24. A Torturous Year
In a period of only four years (between 1964 and 1968), the duo had five major albums. After these albums ((Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., Sounds of Silence, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme and Bookends), they started working on their final studio album, Bridge Over Troubled Water.
The masterpiece Bridge Over Troubled Water was released in 1970, and for years it was the best-selling LP of all time, gaining a status of certified platinum eight times. This album won five Grammy awards, including Album of the Year and Song of the Year, and music experts often listed this album as one of the most influential albums in the 20th century. Behind the scene, the duo was falling apart.
23. Making Their Final Album
After Bridge Over Troubled Water album, the duo was everywhere, including The Ed Sullivan Show and The Andy Williams Show. They were the best of the best. They started recording this album in 1968, and that’s when the cracks in their partnership were revealed.
From childhood friends, they went to a pair of frenemies. They appreciated each other’s sense of humor, and they were close, but there was still something missing. Garfunkel admitted in the ’80s: “We were trying to make one perfect person together.” He also shared how they used each other.
22. Garfunkel’s Popularity, Simon’s Drive
“I guess he was using my popularity as part of who he was, but I was using his drive to get someplace, because I’m more of a laidback guy and always was,” Garfunkel said. “I don’t think I would have had the career I had if it weren’t for the engine that Paul Simon is.” Simon and Garfunkel worked on another album, named The Boxer and Baby Driver when Garfunkel decided to make a fateful decision.
Many claims that the real turning point in the duo’s career was when Mike Nichols came along. Nichols was a big fan of the duo’s music, and he wanted them to participate in creating memorable tunes for his new movie, The Graduate.
21. Creating Mrs. Robinson
Mrs. Robinson movie was an instant hit. This movie is even today one of the most popular movies, and each generation gets to hear the memorable Mrs. Robinson song by Simon and Garfunkel. This due contributed extensively to the soundtrack of 1967’s The Graduate, with its song.
While writing the song, Simon played around with the title “Mrs. Roosevelt” at first. When Garfunkel voiced his indecision over the song’s name to Nichols, the director said, “Don’t be ridiculous! We’re making a movie here! It’s Mrs. Robinson!”
20. Mrs. Robinson Song
The final version of the song was completed on February 2, 1968, and was released three months after The Graduate came out. The song was an instant hit.
Mrs. Robinson song was everywhere. Every radio was playing it, every home was listening to it, and the track became mandatory in the promotion of the film during its initial run in movie theaters.
19. Triggering Another Feud
Working on Nichol’s movie lead to another feud between the two singers. Garfunkel wanted to try acting, which is why Nichols cast him in his new movie, Catch-22.
Garfunkel’s acting debut was as Lieutenant Nately in the film. Simon was also cast in the movie, but Nichols told him right before filming began that his character as a serviceman was cut from the final script.
18. Getting on Each Other’s Nerves
At that time, it was obvious that Simon was resentful when Garfunkel rose to fame at the start of 1969. Garfunkel had the time of his life on set with actors and other celebrities, while Simon had to stay in New York writing material for their upcoming album.
During this time, additional frustrations started appearing. Two songs got them really frustrated and pushed them to think about their joined future.
17. Getting on Each Other’s Nerves
Songs became personal. In The Only Living Boy in New York, the lyrics “Tom, get your plane right on time / I know your part’ll go fine / Fly down to Mexico” were read as a cutting remark at Garfunkel, aka Tom.
Garfunkel came back in September 1969, and he and Simon continued working on their album. They were recording in Detroit and Wichita. They were both exhausted, and they started going on each other nerves. Garfunkel even confessed that Simon started going on his nerves, while Simon has another version…
16. Something Was Broken
Garfunkel enjoyed so much his acting experience that he accepted another role from Nichols. Garfunkel had an opportunity to act alongside Jack Nicholson in Carnal Knowledge.
Years later, Simon admitted that he was so angry on Garfunkel for leaving him once again. Simona recalled asking Garfunkel, “Why didn’t you tell me?” Garfunkel said, “I was afraid that you’d stop working on this [music] if I told you.” Simon admitted that it really disturbs him, and that was the moment that decided the future of their career.
15. Final Goodbye
A Bridge Over Troubled Water was a real success. The session group’s talent, The Wrecking Crew –with Joe Osborn on bass guitar, Larry Knechtel on piano and organ, and Hal Blaine on drums – only added to the record’s appeal.
However, the success of the album made a hard and fast split between the two. Their partnership was falling apart. Even their tours were real torture for Simon. Years later, Simon shared how Garfunkel would receive wild applause for his solo renditions of the song Bridge Over Troubled Water. He said: “His performance… would produce this incredible reaction, and I would be standing in the wings.”
14. A Handshake and Some Goodbyes
When Garfunkel learned about Simon’s complaints and worries, he was upset. “How many songs did I sing upfront and have a real tour de force of vocal? Does he resent that I had that one? I find that ungenerous,” he said.
Yet, they continued performing together until July 1970, when, after a concert at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in Queens, the musicians shook hands in the parking lot and went their separate ways.
13. Goodbye Forever?
In their true manner, Simon and Garfunkel didn’t stay apart for too long. Juts after what seemed their final goodbye, the two decided to regroup for a brief set as part of a fundraiser for Democratic Party presidential nominee George McGovern.
They may perform together, but the energy was gone. In was clear that they aren’t on the same page anymore. Moreover, Rolling Stone described them as looking as though “they had not spoken in 12 years.”
12. Issues from Childhood
His fans knew Simon as a great singer-songwriter. However, only a few knew that he remained bitter about the work he did in the ’60s as part of their duo.
Both musicians spoke publicly on their split reasons, which happened when they were still only in their 20s. “We were forced to travel together through the power of business; it began to tell on our friendship,” said Garfunkel.
11. A Problem of Early Competitiveness
Did you know that this famous duo co-wrote only one song? Their teenage collaboration on the song Hey Schoolgirl was their mutual effort. However, Simon was annoyed by any suggestion that this song was a combined effort.
Simond said: “He didn’t write any of the songs. I wrote all the Simon and Garfunkel songs.” But there was one issue between them that was more personal. It turns out that Simon, a man who stands 5′ 2″ tall, has always been touchy about his height.
10. A Height Issue
Carrie Fisher (may she rest in peace), the second of Simon’s three wives, was just an inch shorter than her husband. She even shared her opinion on the height topic, saying: “I used to say to him, ‘Don’t stand next to me at the party; people will think we’re salt and pepper shakers.'”
Some even claimed that Simon had a “Napoleon complex.” When Simon turned 76, he shared how he felt insecure about how Garfunkel stood eight inches taller than him. One particular photo session was painful for Simon.
9. A Hurtful Photo Session
Simon shared how he found one photo session excruciating. He recalled a photo session when Garfunkel said, “No matter what happens, I’ll always be taller than you.” Did that hurt Simon? In his own words, he said, “I guess it hurt enough for me to remember 60 years later.”
Well, sometimes, people may say something without realizing how it may affect others. This line was something that Simon had to bear with him for decades. Then, there was another thing also.
8. A Brief Stint in Teaching Math
During the ’70s, Simon and Garfunkel were in contact with occasionally. There was even a period when Garfunkel decided to move away from music. He even worked as a math professor. During this period, he married architect Linda Marie Grossman.
He often reflected on this phase of his life and described it as a weird stage of his life. He recalled talking to his students about a math problem, asking if anyone had any questions. Their response: “What were the Beatles like?” Garfunkel’s marriage to Grossman ended in 1975.
7. Reuniting After 11 Years
After his divorce with Garfunkel started dating actress and photographer Laurie Bird. Their relationship lasted until her suicide in 1979. During this time, Simon approached Garfunkel and extended a peace offer.
Simon offered Garfunkel a reunion. Decades later, after Bridge Over Troubled Water, the duo reformed to do a free concert in Central Park, New York. More than half a million people attended this concert.
6. He Would “Go For Walks”
Dan Nash, a sound engineer claim that Garfunkel used to disappear whenever he was upset by Simon. He would say that he is going for a walk, and he would disappear for days.
It was Simon’s demand for independence over the production that frustrated Garfunkel. They even worked in separate studios. “I realized that by including him on it, I would probably improve the overall quality, certainly would improve the sales and would satisfy a lot of people,” Simon admitted. But he also knew they would “end up in some terrific fights over points I really didn’t want to fight about. And that’s exactly what happened.”
5. Turning It into a Solo Album
Garfunkel hated being treated as just a background singer. Eventually, Simon turned Hearts and Bones into a solo album instead, a move that wasn’t well accepted by Simon.
By the time Hearts and Bones was released in 1983, the pair again went separate ways. Garfunkel’s contributions were nowhere seen in the final product.
4. A Quarrelsome Tour
In the ’80s, after the success of Simon’s solo album, Graceland and The Rhythm of the Saints, the duo decided to join their forces again. In 1993 they were ready to hit the road and have one more tour.
As expected, the truce didn’t last for long. Joseph Rascoff, Simon’s business manager, wrote a book titled Paul Simon: The Life, where he described this tour’s nature. According to Rascoff, “They never came to blows, but there was shoving, and I had to step between them.”
3. On-Again, Off-Again
Some couples can find harmony in their unusual relationship, and it seems that Simon and Garfunkel were no exception. Another drama was on the way when Garfunkel accused Simon of another song.
Simon recaptured the incident in an interview: “At intermission, Art comes up to me and says, ‘You tried to make me look like a fool on The Boxer.’ I said, ‘No, Artie, it was a mistake. Mistakes happen, just like you forgot to do, I love you.'” “That’s when he looked me in the eye and said, ‘I didn’t forget. I just wanted you to see what it feels like to be made a fool of’.” One decade later, they decided to give it a go one more time.
2. Old Friends on Tour Again
Many asked if the duo would join their forces again. They were secretly hoping to see them touring again. Simon finally revealed that after a “satisfying experience at the Grammys,” a tour was becoming something they were seriously considering.
So, in October 2003, they set off on a new tour. Symbolically, the tour was named Old Friends. During their Old Friends in Concert Tour, there really seemed to be genuine warmth between the now-60-somethings.
1. Old Pals
Not only that they were touring again, but they were stepping hours together when they weren’t playing. They were just like two old pals. At some shows, they were joined on stage by their original inspirers, The Everly Brothers.
Rumor has it that they talked about their past, mutual moments, and how life changed them. They then embarked on another tour in 2009 that took them through Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.