Simon & Garfunkel in Central Park, 35 Years Later

Art Garfunkel, left, and Paul Simon perform during their "Concert in Central Park" on September 19, 1981, in New York.
Simon & Garfunkel (Art Garfunkel, left, and Paul Simon) perform during their “Concert in Central Park” on September 19, 1981, in New York.

On this date in 1981, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel played their landmark “Concert in Central Park.”

Here are some things you may not have known about the show.

Simon & Garfunkel met as children in Queens, New York in 1952. They began performing together in 1957 under the name “Tom and Jerry.” Their initial sound was an imitation of the two-part harmonies of the Everly Brothers.

The duo broke up in the late 50s, but reunited in 1963. They released five studio albums, two of which hit No. 1 before they broke up in 1970. The main reason for Simon & Garfunkel’s  breakup was their frequent disagreements and arguments with each other.

Simon went on to a successful solo career in the 1970s, which peaked with the No. 1 album “Still Crazy After All These Years.” Garfunkel had a tougher time after the breakup, with only his first solo release reaching the top 5 in the U.S.

By the mid 1970s, New York’s Central Park was in a state of disrepair. The city estimated that it would cost $3 million to restore and maintain the park.

One of the ways the city planned to raise money for the park was through free open-air concerts. Elton John and James Taylor had success with earlier performances in the park.

The organizers, along with TV channel HBO, picked Simon & Garfunkel for the benefit show. Both artists were enthusiastic about the idea and planned to begin rehearsals.

Early concepts for the show included each man performing solo works separately before playing together to end the show; later they decided that they would perform most of the show together.

The concert wasn’t announced to the public until a week before the event.

Utilmately the duo performed 21 songs in front of a crowd estimated at 500,000 people. 10 of the songs were from their time together, eight of the songs were from Simon’s solo career, and one was from Garfunkel’s.

The duo reunited for a world tour in 1982, but a planned studio album was canceled after their old differences reemerged.

Despite being the seventh-largest concert in American history, the event raised just $51,000 for Central Park. However the spotlight on the plight of the park helped spur more donations that have since helped restore the park.

Our question: What was Paul Simon’s only No. 1 single as a solo artist?

Today is Independence Day in Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Armed Forces Day in Chile.

It’s unofficially International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and National Butterscotch Pudding Day.

It’s the birthday of “Lord of the Flies” author William Golding, who was born in 1911; actor Adam West, who is 88; and singer Cass Elliot, who was born in 1941.

This week in 1981, the top song in the U.S. was “Endless Love” by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie.

The No. 1 movie was “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” while the novel “Cujo” by Stephen King topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Weekly question

In what song does Simon allude to Garfunkel as Tom, a reference to their act’s original name, Tom and Jerry?


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