During his distinguished career Paul Simon has been the recipient of many honors and awards including 12 Grammy Awards, three of which (”Bridge Over Troubled Water”, “Still Crazy After All These Years” and “Graceland”) were albums of the year. In 2003 he was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as half of the duo Simon and Garfunkel. He is an inductee of The Songwriters Hall of Fame and is in the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame both as a member of Simon and Garfunkel and as a solo artist. His song “Mrs. Robinson” from the motion picture “The Graduate” was named in the top ten of The American Film Institute's 100 Years 100 Songs. He was a recipient of The Kennedy Center Honors in 2003 and was named as one of Time Magazine's “100 People Who Shape Our World” in 2006.
Of Simon's many concert appearances he is most fond of the two concerts in Central Park in New York (with his partner and childhood friend Art Garfunkel in 1981 and as a solo artist in 1991) and the series of shows he did at the invitation of Nelson Mandela in South Africa: the first American artist to perform in post-apartheid South Africa.
Paul Simon's philanthropic work includes the co-founding of The Children's Health Fund with Dr. Irwin Redlener. The CHF donates and staffs mobile medical vans that bring health care to poor and indigent children in urban and rural locations around the United States. In the twenty years since its inception it has provided over 1,200,000 doctor /patient visits. In the wake of Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina it was the primary health care source for those communities decimated by the storms. Mr. Simon has also raised millions of dollars for worthy causes as varied as AMFAR, The Nature Conservancy, The Fund for Imprisoned Children In South Africa and Autism Speaks. In 1989 The United Negro College Fund honored him with its Frederick D. Patterson Award.
On May 23rd, 2007, Simon was the recipient of the first annual Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Named in honor of the legendary George and Ira Gershwin, this newly created award recognizes the profound and positive effect of popular music on the world’s culture, and will be given annually to a composer or performer whose lifetime contributions exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins.
In early 1964, Simon and Garfunkel got an audition with Columbia Records, whose executives were impressed enough to sign the duo to a contract to produce an album. According to a February 2001 writing from Bud Scoppa, Miles Davis was a member of the Columbia Records staff that offered the duo a record deal. Columbia decided that the two would be called simply “Simon & Garfunkel,” which Simon claimed in 2003, was the first time that artists' ethnic names had been used in pop music.
Simon and Garfunkel's first LP, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. was released on October 19, 1964 and comprised twelve songs in the folk vein, five of them written by Simon. The album initially flopped, but East Coast radio stations began receiving requests for one of the tracks, Simon's “The Sound of Silence.” Their producer, Tom Wilson, overdubbed the track with electric guitar, bass, and drums, releasing it as a single that eventually went to number one on the pop charts in the USA.
Simon had gone to England after the initial failure of Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., pursuing a solo career (including collaborations with Bruce Woodley of The Seekers) and releasing the album The Paul Simon Song Book in the UK in 1965. But he returned to the USA to reunite with Garfunkel after “The Sound of Silence” had started to enjoy commercial success.
Together they recorded four influential albums, Sounds of Silence, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, Bookends and Bridge over Troubled Water.
Simon and Garfunkel also contributed extensively to the soundtrack of the 1967 Mike Nichols film The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft. While writing “Mrs. Robinson,” Simon originally toyed with the title “Mrs. Roosevelt.” When Garfunkel reported this indecision over the song's name to the director, Nichols replied, “Don't be ridiculous! We're making a movie here! It's Mrs. Robinson!”
Simon pursued solo projects after the duo released their very popular album Bridge over Troubled Water. Occasionally, he and Garfunkel did reunite, such as in 1975 for their Top Ten single “My Little Town,” which Simon originally wrote for Garfunkel, claiming Garfunkel's solo output was lacking “bite.” The song was included on their respective solo albums; Paul Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years, and Garfunkel's Breakaway.
In 1981, they got together again for the famous concert in Central Park, followed by a world tour and an aborted reunion album Think Too Much, which was eventually released, sans Garfunkel, as Hearts and Bones. Together, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
In 2003, the two reunited again when they received Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. This reunion led to a U.S. tour, the acclaimed “Old Friends” concert series, followed by a 2004 international encore, which culminated in a free concert at the Colosseum in Rome. That final concert drew 600,000 people �” 100,000 more than had attended Paul McCartney's concert at the same venue a year earlier.
After Simon and Garfunkel split in 1970, Simon began to write and record solo material. He released Paul Simon in 1972, which contained one of his first experiments with world music, the Jamaican-inspired “Mother and Child Reunion”, and There Goes Rhymin' Simon in 1973, which featured such popular hit songs as “Something So Right” (a tribute to his first wife, Peggy), ”Kodachrome”, “American Tune”, and “Loves Me Like a Rock”, the latter two obliquely referencing the dark cloud of the Watergate scandal involving the Nixon administration.
His 1975 album Still Crazy After All These Years is considered to be among his finest work, particularly the title track and the hit single “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”
Over the next five years, Simon dabbled in various projects, including writing music for the film Shampoo, a project which was eventually scrapped and was cast as Tony Lacey in Woody Allen's film Annie Hall.
He continued, though less prolifically, to produce hits such as “Slip Slidin' Away” and “Late in the Evening,” while often appearing on Saturday Night Live. The One Trick Pony album, Simon's first album with Warner Bros. Records was also paired with a major motion picture of the same name, with Simon in the starring role.
Simon's next album Hearts and Bones, while critically acclaimed, did not yield any hit singles and marked a lull in his commercial popularity in the early 1980s. The album featured “The Late Great Johnny Ace”, a song partly about Johnny Ace, a U.S rhythm and blues singer, and partly about slain ex- Beatle John Lennon.
In 1985, Simon lent his talents to USA for Africa and performed on the famine relief fundraising single “We Are the World”. In 1986 he released the immensely popular Graceland, for which he won a Grammy. The album featured the groundbreaking use of African rhythms and performers such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
In 1990, he followed up Graceland with the commercially successful and consistent successor album The Rhythm of the Saints, which featured Brazilian musical themes. These albums helped to popularize world music as a genre. The importance of both albums allowed Simon to stage another New York concert, and on August 15, 1991, almost 10 years after his concert with Garfunkel, Simon staged another concert in Central Park with both African and South American bands. The success led to both a live album and an Emmy winning TV special.
His 2000 studio album You're the One, did not reach the commercial heights of previous albums but was considered by many fans and critics to be an artistic success and received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. A DVD of the same title, taped in Paris, was released in 2000. In 2002 he recorded the theme song for the animated children's movie The Wild Thornberrys Movie called Father and Daughter. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song.
Simon is also one of the practitioners of a creative and distinctive fingerstyle guitar style in popular music. His instrumental proficiency (influenced by British guitarist Davey Graham as evidenced by his cover of Graham’s very difficult Anji from Sounds of Silence) has always been highly underrated and practically invisible as a guitarist. His Cole Porter-esque compositional abilities with his combination of jazz-tinged chords and seamless, romantic, poetic lyrics ranged throughout all his different songwriting styles. Show less