Paul Simon to retire: A look back at the musician’s legendary career

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Another legendary recording artist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Paul Simon, announced Monday he will retire from touring at the end of his upcoming “Homeward Bound—The Farewell Tour.”

“I love making music, my voice is still strong, and my band is a tight, extraordinary group of gifted musicians,” Simon said in a statement. “I think about music constantly. Sadly, we lost our lead guitarist and my friend of 30 years, Vincent N’guini, who died last December. His loss is not the only reason I’ve decided to stop touring, but it is a contributing factor. Mostly, though, I feel the travel and time away from my wife and family takes a toll that detracts from the joy of playing.”

The singer/songwriter joins Neil Diamond, Elton John, Ozzy Osbourne, Slayer and Lynyrd Skynyrd—all of whom recently announced their retirement plans and farewell tours.

Simon, who formed a musical partnership with Art Garfunkel in the sixth grade, first made waves in the music business in 1957 at the age of 16. At that time the duo recorded a self-penned song called “Hey, Schoolgirl,” under the name Tom and Jerry. The song made it into the Top 50, selling 150,000 copies, though the two broke up after lackluster record sales.

After reuniting in 1964 and playing at coffeehouses in New York City, Simon and Garfunkel recorded their first album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., released on Columbia Records. A Boston radio station started playing a track off the album, “The Sounds of Silence,” in 1965, which eventually led to the record becoming a No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in the middle of the British Invasion the following January.

The duo continued their success in 1966, seeing four singles reach the Top 30 including the songs “I Am a Rock” and “Homeward Bound,” which reached No. 3 and No. 5, respectively. Two years later, their album “Bookends” was released, featuring the song “Mrs. Robinson.” The single, featured in the film “The Graduate,” was another chart-topper for the duo that year.

Their next and final studio album, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” topped the charts for 10 weeks in 1970, going on to sell 13 million copies worldwide. The album won five Grammy Awards, with the title track being covered by the likes of Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin. Later that year the two played their final concert together as a duo at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, New York.

After the split, Simon went on to write, record and perform as a solo act, producing hits such as “Kodachrome,” “Loves Me Like a Rock” and the 1975 chart-topping single “50 Ways to Lose Your Lover.” The duo would reunite multiple times in the 70s, though the two most notably returned to the stage together in 1981 for a free outdoor concert in New York’s Central Park. Performing before a crowd of 400,000 people, the concert spurred a live double album, “The Concert in Central Park,” which reached No. 6 on the charts in 1982 and eventually went platinum (selling more than 1 million copies).

Simon produced the critically acclaimed, yet highly controversial album “Graceland” in 1986. Parts of the album were recorded in South Africa, which then held a policy of apartheid. Despite backlash for ignoring the international boycott instituted by United Nations Anti-Apartheid Committee at the time, the album won the Grammy Award in 1987 for Album of the Year.

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He continued his solo career into the 1990s, and in 2003 he and Garfunkel received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Simon’s latest album, “Stranger to Stranger,” was released in 2016 and peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 200 chart.

The singer/songwriter and two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee said he will likely perform occasionally and donate the earnings to organizations whose goal is to “save the planet, ecologically.”

“I am very grateful for a fulfilling career and, of course, most of all to the audiences who heard something in my music that touched their hearts,” he said.