Simon & Garfunkel Trivia: The Voices of a Generation

November 14, 2021

Simon & Garfunkel Trivia: The Voices of a Generation

It was 1953, the year of the polio vaccine, the end of the Korean War, and the height of President Eisenhower’s popularity, and for 11-year-old schoolboys Paul and Artie, it was the birth of what would become folk-rock history.

Artie’s notoriously untamed hair, their infectious vocals, and sweet harmonies, and the hipster vibe that surrounded them and their music, are what fans all over the globe have come to know and love about Simon & Garfunkel. Yet their story is so much more.

A cross between The Everly Brothers and the Real Housewives of New Jersey, this popular duo endured a turbulent 60-year feud that shattered their success. But what caused the hair-fully crafted duo to part ways? Before taking in Broadway Utica’s upcoming “Simon & Garfunkel” show at the historic Stanley Theater on November 16th, let’s lean in and brush up on a few juicy behind-the-scenes details.


The Only Boy Living in New York:

Paul and Art, or Art and Paul – depending on whose side you prefer – met at Parson High School in Queens, NY. They quickly forged a friendship based on their love of music. After a performance in the school’s Alice in Wonderland production, the teenagers decided to form their own group, which they called ‘Tom and Jerry’ after their favorite cartoons.


I am a Rock:

At the age of 15, Tom and Jerry found themselves attempting to sing the Everly Brothers’ “Hey Doll Baby,” when they tripped over words –  accidentally creating the lyrics to their first hit “Hey Schoolgirl.” Written in just under an hour, “Hey Schoolgirl” became a party piece that they performed on stages all across Queens.



Just three days after Simon’s 16th birthday, the boys pooled $25  and headed to Sanders Record Studios in Manhattan, where they officially recorded ‘Hey Schoolgirl.’ In storybook fashion, Big Record’s boss, Sid Prosen happened to be visiting the studio, where he heard the song and signed the teenagers on the spot.


Homeward Bound:

“Hey Schoolgirl” landed them a spot on American Bandstand with Jerry Lee Lewis of  “Great Balls of Fire” fame, and the tune eventually reached #49 on the Billboard charts and grossed $2,000 in royalties. As the duo performed in larger venues and their music grew in popularity, their futures began to take different directions. While Simon invested his earnings in sports cars and luxuries, Garfunkel saved his money to study Art History and Mathematics at Columbia University.


Sounds of Silence:

Tom and Jerry attempted several follow-up songs, like “Our Song,” “That’s My Story,” “Baby Talk,” “I’m Lonesome,” “I’ll Drown in My Tears,” and “Surrender, Please, Surrender.” None of them received the same response as their first hit.


Bridge Over Troubled Water:

With Garfunkel devoting full-time to his studies at Columbia, Simon began assisting fellow singers like Carol King record their demos. Simon’s singing and songwriting ambitions grew, which Prosen noticed and secretly approached Simon to sign a solo contract. Simon jumped at the chance, creating his first solo tune, “True or False.” When Garfunkel learned about the contract,  he felt betrayed and unappreciated.


Ms. Robinson:

After a lukewarm reception to his solo debut, Simon took a job with a music publishing company while continuing to write and release his own music. After Garfunkel graduated from Columbia,  the childhood friends reunited and explored the folk-rock scene once again. Through Simon’s newfound connections, the pair landed an audition at Columbia Records, where they were signed and renamed Simon & Garfunkel. Together they’d go on to record famous songs, like “Mrs. Robinson,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water, “Kodachrome,” and “Sounds of Silence.”


The Boxer:

In just a few short years, Simon & Garfunkel became one of the best-selling artists of all time, with more than 100 million records sold. Despite their popularity and musical success, the cracks between the duo began to show, leading to famous public feuds and a deteriorating relationship. Art was said to mock Paul’s height – a sensitive subject for a man of 5’2” – while Paul was critical of  Art’s musical talent and lack of creativity. Tensions were so high that in July 1970, Paul and Art finished a sold-out performance in front of 14,440 people, walked to the parking lot, and parted ways. Simon & Garfunkel reunited again for their famous concert in Central Park in 1981, and they performed several guest spots afterward, but each attempt was a strong reminder that working together was no longer meant to be.


Simon and Garfunkel presented by Broadway Utica at the Stanley Theatre

November 18th at 7:30pm 

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