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Paul Simon's Determination

I grew up listening to Paul Simon, courtesy of my Dad. He would play Graceland and Rhythm Of The Saints in the car on long summer journeys to Cornwall for our summer holiday. But it wasn’t until I was around 13 that I made a kind of second discovery of Paul Simon’s music and of course Simon & Garfunkel. During those early days of discovery I knew very little about Simon and Garfunkel, it was all about the music not the men. The internet was in its early days at the time (1998) so the only information I had was on the album sleeves of my Dad’s old vinyls.

Of course all this changed when in 2010 Dan and myself decided to create a tribute show that would not only replicate the live performances of Simon and Garfunkel but also tell audiences about the duo’s rise to fame. We’ve learnt a lot about them over the years, we’ve read biographies and trawled the internet for any information we could find. We’ve spoken to audience members, some of whom remember seeing Paul Simon singing in the early 60’s at local folk clubs in England. Most people know the the story of their “overnight” success after their producer Tom Wilson of Columbia Records overdubbed electric guitar and drums to their already released song The Sound Of Silence, re-released it and it quickly shot up the charts to number one.

But in truth this isn’t the full story. Their success didn’t come overnight, but was down to years of sheer determination by the relentless young Paul Simon. As a young teenager Paul learnt to play the guitar and began learning as many songs as he could by artists of the time like of Elvis Presley and The Everly Brothers, which gave him enough knowledge to write his own songs. Between 1957 and 1964 Paul wrote and recorded over 30 songs, sometimes with schoolfriend Art Garfunkel as Tom and Jerry, or under the pseudonyms Jerry Landis and Paul Kane. His song Hey Schoolgirl In The Second Row recorded by Simon & Garfunkel as Tom and Jerry, sold over 100,000 copies and reached number 49 on Billboards charts. But this success was fleeting, and many failed pop songs would follow.