|Tom & Jerry meet Tico & The Triumphs
Early Simon & Garfunkel (Dee Jay Jamboree)
From all today's rock stars, Paul Simon a one of the most sympathetic and handsome guys. He's no eccentric or scandalous person and the milestones of his career are always consequences of his own thinking and strong will. Even in the fall of 1992 Paul Simon raised money and accompanied a mobile paediatric unit to the hurricane-ravaged south of Florida. Almost the same applies to Arthur Garfunkel, who seems to be the more silent, introverted partner. Although never considered oldie performers, both had been in the music business since the fifties.
Both were born 1941 and raised in the Jewish section of Forest Hills, New York, where they met the first time in public school. Their teenage years were influenced by the airwaves of Alan Freed's radio shows and Elvis Presley appearing on the Dorsey TV Shows in January 1956 - not to forget the sound of New York's own doo-wop vocal groups.
A lot of explanations towards the impact of rock & roll music on white teenagers can be found elsewhere. but you could be sure that Paul and Art were amongst these fanatics. Paul was encouraged by his father, who, as a bass player in a local jazz group, posessed a professional musical background. Together with Art they had their first public appearance at Parsons's Junior Highschool singing the title "They Tried To Tell Us We're Young", a-cappella. Their greatest musical influence were the Everly Brothers and Robert & Johnny, so they tried to write their own songs, hoping to sell them to one of the small record companies situated in N.Y.'s Brill Building. Paul in particular liked Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.
After being turned down by every company, they decided to quit the publishing business and record a demo of a title that was well received during all their school hall and Bar Mitzvah concerts. They booked time at Sanders studio on 7th Ave. and spent 2 $ 2 for an acetate of "Hey, Schoolgirl". They had luck, because Sid Prosen, owner of Big records, was also in the studio. He signed them to his label and re-recorded "Hey, Schoolgirl" for release as Big 613 in November 1957. The flipside "Dancin' Wild" was also self-penned and released as by "Tom & Jerry" (who would have bought a record by "Simon & Garfunkel" in 1957?). When adding surnames to their new accepted pseudonyms, Art became Tom Graph (because he just wrote on Graph paper) and Paul Jerry Landis (his current girlfriend was Sue Landis).
The teenagers liked their tribute single and so it reached the number ten in the New York Billboard charts, nationally climbing to position 54. Some rumors were heard telling about a $200 donation toward Alan Freed for playing time. Nevertheless, their first record sold 100.000 copies, and that led to an appearance in Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" on Thanksgiving Day in November 1957. A little later in 1958 Paul's first solo recording appeared on Big 614 as by Jerry Landis. The top side "True Or False", was a light rocker, while "Teenage Fool" was an imitation of Elvis' ballad style.
Although Paul and Art took all their musical adventures seriously, no more hits were in sight. Their follow-up as Tom & Jerry in April was in the same mood as "Hey, Schoolgirl", entitled "Our Song" b/w "Two Teenagers" on Big 616. Big 618 soon followed with "(Pretty Baby) Don't Say Goodbye", a rocking update of their first hit. A nice soft ballad, almost a doo-wop song, appeared on the flipside entitled "That's My Story".
Meanwhile they had time to change from highschool to university, Paul later majoring in English literature at Queen's, while Art was studying mathematics at Columbia University in New York. Their last record as Tom & Jerry in 1959 was a try to make a few bucks with a cover of "Baby Talk", a current hit by Jan & Dean in September. First released on Big (before the company went bankrupt), it was later leased to Bell Records and put out with a different hit & artist on the other side.
Before that, Paul had a solo record out with "Anna Belle" on MGM, a light rocker with a forgettable flipside. While still studying, he was also busy recording demos for other artists. He teamed with Carole Klein (later Carole King) to form a group called Cosines and worked with Gerry Goffin on overdubbing himself to earn $ 25 per demo (using all available overdub technics to sound like a complete group). One of these demo recordings "Just To Be With You" was later recorded by The Passions. Paul also sang lead in 1960 with The Mystics on "All Through The Night" b/w "I Begin To Think Again Of You" and "Let Me Steal Your Heart Away".
Late 1959 marked Artie Garr's (aka Art Garfunkel's) first release for Warwick Records, a doo-wopish ballad with the mysterious title "Beat Love". Jerry Landis also had records out on Warwick in 1960 and 1961 which were more or less boring ballads. In the summer of 1961 Paul got to know a few local singers named Crew-Cuts (not the Canadian pop group), which were just founded by a guy named Mickey Borack to win a local talent contest at Parson's Junior Highschool. Together with Marty Cooper and Gail Lynn they performed the first time at the Forest Hill Jewish Center. By accident Paul Simon was in the audience and they asked him to sing lead with them on "I've Told Every Little Star". This led to a partnership which resulted in a record for Canadian American in October. Both tracks were strong doo-wop ballads. "I Wish I Weren't In Love" featured the whole group, who later became known as Tico & The Triumphs". The long was originally intended as the flipside of their first Madison release.
Together with Howie Beck the group recorded two songs for Madison Records where Paul was also responsible for production, arrangement and writing. They named themselves Tico & The Triumphs", but after their release of "Motorcycle" Madison went bankrupt. Amy Records picked up the masters and in November 1961 their record got a little push towards the charts with the help of WINS radio, N.Y. and Murray The K's show, where the record just lost the weekly contest against Boris Pickett's "Monster Mash". In January 1962 "Motorcycle" entered the Billboard Top 100 at position 99 for just one week, but the song became the number one in Puerto Rico and Baltimore. About 100.000 copies should have been sold of the Amy release. The group performed live with DJ Buddy Dean's show in Maryland on a Chistmas concert with The Drifters in Camden, New Jersey, a TV-show in Rhode Island with Brian Hyland plus The Marcels and a concert in Detroit with Del Shannon.
Their next two releases on Amy flopped, but that was no surprise, because both missed the originality of "Motorcycle". Only "Cry, Little Boy, Cry", again a doo-wop effort, won Murray the K's weekly contest. This forced Paul Simon to release another record under the pseudonym Jerry Landis, now with more luck. "The Lone Teen Ranger", put out at the end of 1962, was again a novelty title with references towards the TV series "The Lone Ranger". The flipside "Lisa", used the same instrumental track as "I Don't Believe Them" (on the backside of "Motorcycle"). "The Lone Teen Ranger" reached number 97 on the Billboard charts in January and stayed there for three weeks.
A little earlier in December Tico (aka Marty Cooper) had a record out on Amy where the group went uncredited. But nevertheless, both "Noise" and "Cards Of Love" were among the best white doo-wop songs ever recorded in New York, although this wasn't enough to scratch the national charts.
During his stay with Amy Records Paul Simon was also busy producing records with other artists and publishing songs for his own music company, Landis Music. He produced The Vels on Amy 881, Ritchie Cordell on Amy 882, The Montgomerys on Amy 883, The Fashions on Amy 884, Dotty Daniels on Amy 885 in 1963 and David Winters on Rori 703. He also sang background together with Les Levine (bass vocals, from the Accents on Sultan Rec.) on "Tick Tock" by Ritchie Cordell (Rori 707) in 1962.
Artie Garr had one last release on Octavia 8002 in 1961, but the two ballads were nothing special to attract the record-buying public. Two releases by Tom & Jerry appeared in late 1962 and early 1963, the later on Ember 1094, but it is unknown whether these recordings were still by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.
1964 was the year Paul Simon changed his style to folkrock music, and today Paul and Art will always be remembered as the folk duo "Simon & Garfunkel", although both were later successful as solo artists. For us rock 'n' roll fans their efforts from before 1964 will always be their best.
Adapted from Dee Jay Jamboree liner notes, 1992
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