The Day Simon and Garfunkel Took The Bridge Over Troubled Water To The Top

02/21/2012
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(Gibson) On this day in 1970, Simon and Garfunkel went to no. 1 on the U.K. chart with Bridge Over Troubled Water. The album went on to stay on the chart for over 300 weeks, returning to the top of the charts on eight separate occasions and spending a total of 41 weeks at no. 1. Gibson take a look back: Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel grew up just a few blocks from each other in Forest Hills, Queens, New York, and they met in 1953 when they both had roles in their elementary school's production of Alice in Wonderland (Paul portrayed the White Rabbit, Art the Cheshire Cat). The good friends then matriculated to Parsons Junior High followed by Forest Hills High School. It was during their junior year of high school that they began performing together, under the name Tom and Jerry (Paul was "Jerry Landis", the last name coming from a girl he'd been dating at the time, while Art was "Tom Graph" one of Art's hobbies at the time was "graphing" or charting song rankings on the music charts.)

The duo began writing their own material in 1955, and just two years later they went into the studio to record their song, "Hey, Schoolgirl," on Big Records. The song did well, selling over 100,000 copies and climbing to #49 in the U.S. Both were huge fans of the Everly Brothers, it's easy to hear that influence in "Hey, Schoolgirl." The success of the song led to Tom and Jerry appearing on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, and though they didn't have the most enviable of slots on the show following Jerry Lee Lewis and his incendiary performance of "Great Balls of Fire" they performed well.

Tom and Jerry's success, however, proved short-lived as follow-up efforts failed to match the success of "Hey, Schoolgirl." After high school, Simon attended Queens College, while Garfunkel went to Columbia University. A few years later, in 1963, the pair were making quite a name for themselves in the Greenwich Village folk music scene. Simon was proving quite a talented and prodigious songwriter, penning such early Simon & Garfunkel classics as "Sparrow," "Bleecker Street" and "He Was My Brother" (a song dedicated to a mutual friend and classmate of the duo, Andrew Goodman, who became a civil rights leader and was killed in Neshoba County, Mississippi, in 1964). Those songs would appear on the duo's 1964 debut album for Columbia Records, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.

The album initially tanked, and Simon and Garfunkel went their separate ways. But a funny thing happened in the summer of '65 when a number of Florida radio stations began playing a song from Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. "The Sound of Silence." Their producer, Tom Wilson, dubbed without permission electric guitar, bass and drums into the original mix of the song, thereby transforming it from folk into folk-rock, and released it. "The Sound of Silence" (part deux) shot into the Top 40 in the U.S. and eventually climbed to #1 by New Year's Day of 1966. more on this story

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Copyright Gibson.com - Excerpted here with permission.

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