Simon & Garfunkel were an American singer-songwriter duo consisting of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. They formed the group "Tom and Jerry" in 1957, and had their first taste of success with the minor hit "Hey, Schoolgirl". As Simon and Garfunkel, the duo rose to fame in 1965, backed by the hit single "The Sounds of Silence". Their music was featured in the landmark film The Graduate, propelling them further into the public consciousness.
They are well known for their close vocal harmonies and sometimes unstable relationship. Their last album, Bridge over Troubled Water, was delayed several times due to artistic disagreements. They were among the most popular recording artists of the 1960s; among their biggest hits, in addition to "The Sounds of Silence", were "I Am a Rock", "Homeward Bound", "Mrs. Robinson", "Bridge over Troubled Water", and "The Boxer". They have received several Grammys and are inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame (2007). In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Simon and Garfunkel #40 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
They have reunited on several occasions since their 1970 breakup, most famously for 1981's The Concert in Central Park, which attracted about 500,000 people.
Close friends through childhood, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel grew up in the same Forest Hills neighborhood in Queens, New York, just blocks away from one another. They met in elementary school in 1953, when they both appeared in the school play Alice in Wonderland (Simon as the White Rabbit, Garfunkel as the Cheshire Cat). They were classmates at Parsons Junior High School and Forest Hills High School, and began performing together in their junior year as Tom and Jerry, with Simon as Jerry Landis (whose last name he borrowed from a girl he had been dating) and Garfunkel as Tom Graph (so called because he was fond of tracking ("graphing") hits on the pop charts). They began writing their own songs in 1955, and made their first professional recording, "Hey, Schoolgirl", for Sid Prosen of Big Records in 1957. Released on 45 rpm and 78 rpm vinyl records, with the flip-side song "Dancin' Wild", the recording sold 100,000 copies, hitting #49 on the Billboard Magazine charts. Both Simon and Garfunkel have acknowledged the tremendous impact of The Everly Brothers on their style, and many of their early songs (including "Hey, Schoolgirl") bear the mark of this influence.
They later performed their hit on American Bandstand, right after Jerry Lee Lewis's "Great Balls of Fire".
Subsequent efforts in 1958 did not reach near their initial success, and after high school the duo went to separate colleges, with Simon enrolling at Queens College and Garfunkel at Columbia University. While enrolled in college, they both joined the same fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi.
In 1963, they found prominence as part of the Greenwich Village folk music scene. Simon, who had finished college but dropped out of Brooklyn Law School, had—like Garfunkel—developed an interest in the folk scene. Simon showed Garfunkel a few songs that he had written in the folk style: "Sparrow", "Bleecker Street", and "He Was My Brother"—which was later dedicated to Andrew Goodman, a friend of both Simon and Garfunkel and a classmate of Simon's at Queens College, who was one of three civil rights workers murdered in Neshoba County, Mississippi, on June 21, 1964.
These three efforts were among five original songs by Simon included on their first album for Columbia Records, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., which initially flopped upon its release on October 19, 1964.