13 October 2010

This Date In Rock History: 13 October

On this date in 1941, Paul Frederic Simon was born in Newark, New Jersey to Hungarian immigrant parents Belle and Louis Simon. By the end of 1941, the new parents had moved with their son to Queens, New York.

Louis Simon was a college professor, bassist and bandleader, and had performed on the radio in Hungary. He passed his keen interest in music on to Paul, who by the age of 11 met classmate Art Garfunkel and appeared in a sixth grade production of Alice In Wonderland. By the time they were 13, the duo started playing school dances, working on a vocal harmony in honor of their heroes, The Everly Brothers.

Before graduating from high school, Paul and Artie cut the single "Hey Schoolgirl" under the name of Tom & Jerry. It reached #49 on the pop charts in 1957.

Over the next six years, the pair attended college (Paul at Queens College and Artie at Columbia University) and Paul tried his hand at contracted song-writing, in the shadows of the famous Brill Building in Manhattan.

By early 1964, Simon & Garfunkel landed an audition at mighty Columbia Records. Clive Davis signed them to a contract and their phenomenal six year run resulted in multiple gold records, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Paul Simon's solo career has now spanned an incredible 40 years. The cornerstone of his work remains the seminal Graceland (1986), but readers would be remiss to not include in their collection the consecutive three-album span that ranks with the best pop music has to offer: Paul Simon (1972); There Goes Rhymin' Simon (1973); and Still Crazy After All These Years (1975).

This is not to dismiss his other work, which to this day remains original and vital, ranking him with contemporaries Bob Dylan and Neil Young as artists who refuse to rest on their laurels. Simon recently completed a new album helmed by Phil Ramone, which he calls "the best work I've done in 20 years."

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