Hungarian Roots: Paul Simon, American Songwriter, Singer And Guitarist
Tamás Székely 2016.04.14.
In our weekly series we write about celebrities – artists, actors, musicians, sport stars and scientists – who have some Hungarian origin, yet only few would consider them as “par excellence Hungarians”. In many cases even the person concerned knows/knew only very little about his or her Hungarian roots, while others are/were proud of their “Magyar” background despite lacking the ability to speak the language of their parents or grandparents. Our twelfth target is:
Paul Simon, American Songwriter, Singer And Guitarist
Musician Paul Simon was born on October 13, 1941, to Hungarian-Jewish parents, who emigrated to the United States from Hungary at the beginning of the Second World War. Paul’s father Louis, a former member of the Hungarian Radio Orchestra, became a college professor in America, but he was also known as an upright bass player, and dance bandleader who performed under the name “Lee Sims”. Paul’s mother, Belle was an English elementary school teacher. Paul spent his early childhood in Newark, New Jersey, however, later the family moved to Queens, New York, where Paul first met Art Garfunkel, the friend who inspired Paul to start singing and performing when they were both 11.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Paul Simon wrote, recorded, and released dozens of songs, occasionally with Art Garfunkel. However, the two released their first album, Wednesday Morning 3AM, as “Simon & Garfunkel” only in 1964. In the meantime Paul released a solo album as well, The Paul Simon Songbook, in 1965 with legendary tracks like “I Am a Rock” and “Kathy’s Song” that would later go on to become fan favorites. In 1968 the two friends produced a smash hit soundtrack to Mike Nichols’s iconic film The Graduate with songs like “Scarborough Fair” and “Mrs. Robinson,” while the title song of their next and final album, Bridge Over Troubled Water in 1969, became a cultural anthem for the 1960s generation.