Paul Frederic Simon was born 13 October 1941 at Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A. Simon first entered the music business with Art Garfunkel under the collective name of Tom And Jerry. In 1957, they scored a U.S. hit with the basic Rock 'N' Roll influenced Hey, Schoolgirl. But after the one album, they split to return to college. Although Simon briefly worked with Carole King recording demonstration discs for minor acts, he would not be back into the music business full time until the early 1960s. Employing various pseudonyms, Simon enjoyed a couple of minor U.S. hits during 1962-63 as Tico And The Triumphs with Motorcycle and Jerry Landis with The Lone Teen Ranger. After moving to Europe in 1964, he became a busker in Paris and appeared at various folk clubs in London. Upon returning to New York, he was signed to CBS Records' by producer Tom Wilson and reunited with Garfunkel.
Their 1964 recording Wednesday Morning 3AM, which included the eventual hit track The Sound Of Silence initially failed to sell, Simon gave up and returned to London. While there, he made The Paul Simon Songbook, a solo work, recorded using a single microphone on a low budget (60 pounds). This recording would prove to become one of Simon's most recognized, featuring tracks like I Am A Rock, A Most Peculiar Man and Kathy's Song. But the brilliance of the album was virtually ignored until Tom Wilson stepped in. Back in the U.S.A., the producer added electric instrumentation on to Simon And Garfunkel 's acoustic recording of Sound Of Silence, renamed it The Sounds Of Silence, and created what would become a Folk-Rock hit. Between 1965 and 1970, Simon And Garfunkel became one of the most successful recording duos in the history of popular music. The partnership ended soon into the new decade, however, as the two drifted apart both personally and musically.
After the break-up, Simon took songwriting classes in New York and prepared to create the self-titled solo album, Paul Simon. Including elements of Latin, Reggae and Jazz, the recording revealed the hit singles Mother And Child Reunion and Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard. One year later, Simon returned with the much more commercial There Goes Rhymin' Simon, an album that achieved chart success mostly on the tracks, Kodachrome and Take Me To The Mardi Gras. The album was followed by a tour and live album, Paul Simon In Concert: Live Rhymin', which featured several Simon And Garfunkel standards. This flurry of creativity in 1975 culminated in the chart-topping Still Crazy After All These Years, a work that gave him two Grammy Awards for Album Of The Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, taken from the album, provided Simon with his first U.S. number 1 single as a soloist, while My Little Town featured a duet with Garfunkel.
A five-year hiatus followed where Simon appeared briefly in Woody Allen's movie Annie Hall, recorded a hit single with Garfunkel and James Taylor called (What A) Wonderful World, released a greatest hits package featuring two new tracks, including the hit single Slip Slidin' Away, and switched labels from CBS' to Warner Brothers Records'.
In 1980, Simon returned to release the One-Trick Pony, from his movie of the same name. The movie included cameo appearances by the Lovin' Spoonful and Tiny Tim but it was not well received over-all. After the project he disappeared suffering from writer's block effectively delaying the recording of his next album. Meanwhile, a double-album live reunion of Simon And Garfunkel recorded in Central Park was issued and sold extremely well. It was intended to preview a studio reunion, but the sessions were subsequently scrapped.
Simon's next album finally arrived in 1983 as Hearts And Bones. It sold poorly despite its evocative hit single The Late Great Johnny Ace (dedicated to both the doomed 50's star and the assassinated John Lennon); critics accused him of being in a creative rut.
That situation altered during 1984 when Simon was introduced to the music of the South African black townships. After an appearance at the celebrated U.S.A. For Africa recording of We Are The World, Simon further explored the music of the Dark Continent. Utilizing musical contributions from Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Los Lobos, Linda Ronstadt and Rockie Dopsie And The Twisters, the resulting Graceland (1985) album would become one of the most influential hit albums of the decade. But the project and subsequent tour was awash in controversy due to accusations (misconceived according to the United Nations Anti-Apartheid Committee) that Simon had broken the cultural boycott against South Africa. The record incorporated everything from Blues and Rock to Folk, R&B, and Calypso. The album spawned several notable hits, The Boy In The Bubble, You Can Call Me Al (inspired by an amusing case of mistaken identity) and Graceland (in homage to Elvis Presley 's Memphis home).
Naturally Graceland would prove to be a tough album to follow-up from. Simon continued to explore culture with the release of The Rhythm Of The Saints (1990), a brilliant follow-up album that incorporated more African and Brazilian musical elements. After Paul Simon And Friends (1991) and Unplugged (1993), he would then marry Edie Brickell in 1994.
After Songs From the Capeman (1997) was released it was announced that Simon had been working on his ambitious Broadway musical The Capeman, based on the true story of Salvador Agron, a Puerto Rican gang member imprisoned for his part in the murder of two white teenagers in New York in 1959. Collaborating with poet Derek Walcott and Broadway veterans Jerry Zaks and Joey McKneely, The Capeman went to stage but was withdrawn on 28 March 1998 after 59 previews and 68 regular performances due to poor reviews and protests from the surviving relatives of Agron's victims; Simon and his investors were reported to have lost a record $11 million.
Surprise was a commercial hit, reaching #14 in the Billboard 200 and #4 in the UK. Most critics also praised the album, and many of them called it a "comeback".
On March 1, 2007, Simon made headlines again when the Library of Congress announced that he would be the first recipient of the recently created Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
On November 10, 2010, Simon released a new song called Getting Ready for Christmas Day. It premiered on National Public Radio, and was included on his new album So Beautiful or So What (2011). The song samples a 1941 sermon by the Rev. J.M. Gates, also entitled "Getting Ready for Christmas Day". Simon performed the song live on The Colbert Report on December 16, 2010.
On August 4, 2015, Simon performed Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard, Homeward Bound, and Late in the Evening alongside Billy Joel at the final concert of Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, New York.
Stranger to Stranger arrived in 2016.
Today, Paul Simon is still alive and kicking, although less prolific, Rhymin' Simon has become to be known as one of the best songwriters of our time.
Simon has appeared on Saturday Night Live (SNL), either as host or musical guest, 14 times.
Simon is one of a small number of performers who are named as the copyright owner on their recordings (most records have the recording company as the named owner of the recording). This noteworthy development was spearheaded by the Bee Gees after their successful $200 million lawsuit against 'RSO Records', which remains the largest successful lawsuit against a record company by an artist or group.