Simon and Garfunkel perform in their early days.
(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, October 8, 2016, 3:00 PM
A new biography of revered rock star Paul Simon is respectful, insightful — and so very damning.
The rap against Paul?
The diminutive Queens-born rocker is a thief and a bully.
In “Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon,” author Peter Ames Carlin offer several instances of musicians with credible claims of getting ripped off by Rhymin’ Simon.
At 74, Simon remains one of the most highly regarded musical artists in the world. His latest album, “Stranger to Stranger,” hit the top spot on the Billboard list this past spring.
But his musical peers don’t necessarily share the love.
“Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon,” by Peter Ames Carlin.
Carlin notes how weak the applause was when Simon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Playing it humble, he set a record with 50 thank-yous — all to no avail.
“The applause was polite, the cheers faint, the sound of respect as opposed to a rush of affection,” writes Carlin.
According to Carlin, the genesis of the lifelong feud between Simon and childhood pal Art Garfunkel dates to their senior year at Forest Hills High School.
It was 1957 and the duo had scored their first hit, “Hey Schoolgirl,” singing as Tom Graph and Jerry Landis.
Simon had already gone behind Garfunkel’s back to engineer a side deal with their record producer, Sid Prosen, as a solo artist.
The rupture was smoothed over, but it never really healed.
In 1964, the duo shot to stardom with the Simon-penned masterpiece “The Sound of Silence.” The songwriter followed the hit with a run of incredible singles, but it seems even then Simon had trouble sharing the credit.
Pre-stardom, Simon had scuffled around the British folk scene. Two Brit folkies felt the burn when Simon & Garfunkel’s third album, “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme,” included two tracks where no mention was made of their contribution, according to Carlin’s book.
It wasn’t as if Simon didn’t know the bitter taste that comes from seeing someone else soak up adulation for your work. After all, he stood next to Garfunkel on stage every night.
Twenty years later, Simon still seethed that fans ignored the fact that the blond-haired, blue-eyed Garfunkel only gave voice to his words and music.
Forest Hills High School in Queens, New York.
(ROBERTS, FRANCES/FREELANCE NYDN)
In their minds, “He should have been the one who wrote the songs,” Simon bitterly told a reporter. “That body should have contained the talent.”
In time, Garfunkel found a way to pay Simon back for that first shady deal.
Mike Nichols, who’d commissioned Simon’s “Mrs. Robinson” for the landmark movie “The Graduate,” wanted Garfunkel for his 1970 movie, “Catch 22.”
When Garfunkel finally made it back to Simon’s side to work on their next album, “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” he was giddy from the experience. Nichols had told him he had “movie star looks.”
As Carlin writes, “It never hurts to have a sweet-singing heartthrob in your group — right until it hurt you more than you even know how to express.”
Art Garfunkel (l.) and Paul Simon pose in this 1966 file photo.
Garfunkel waited for the start of their tour to tell Simon that he’d signed on to star in Nichol’s next movie, “Carnal Knowledge.” Simon was furious that Garfunkel went behind his back to take a job.
“Part of him saw those movies as an opportunity to f— me over … I mean, he really made me feel bad,” Simon would say later.
His first solo album, “Paul Simon,” sold a respectable 1.5 million copies. But it was with the “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon” LP that Simon discovered a new form of chart-topping collaboration.
The Swampers were a renowned backup band with the musical sound that Simon wanted. He set up sessions at the funky Muscle Shoals recording studios in Alabama, where he vaguely described the sound he sought.
The musicians would riff and improvise until Simon heard what he wanted. And so it went through the track list of “Rhymin’ Simon.” Simon paid them well, but took sole credit for the compositions, Carlin writes.
Simon and Garfunkel’s Central Park concert had a turnout of 500,000 and led to the duo’s world tour.
When the album hit big, Simon was young, rich and famous in New York City. Now amicably divorced from his first wife and living a short walk from son Harper, he was also single.
Simon dated movie star Shelley Duvall, rode around town in chauffeured limos, and occasionally hit the dance floor at Studio 54.
He fell in with the cool kids of show biz, guys like Nichols and “Saturday Night Live” honcho Lorne Michaels, and felt right at home. His parties were heady affairs.
“Still Crazy After All These Years” became a blockbuster success. By then, Simon’s closest companion was Carrie Fisher — Princess Leia of “Star Wars,” the brilliant child of Hollywood who ran with the A-plus listers.
In 1991, he was approached to stage a concert in Central Park to benefit the Conservancy. He was also asked to share the stage with Garfunkel.
It was a magnificent evening with a turnout of 500,000 — and it led to a world tour with Garfunkel. But it ended bitterly, as it had to. Garfunkel was still stuck on that first betrayal, the solo contract.
“I was 15 years old!” Simon shouted.
“You’re still the same guy,” Garfunkel bitterly shot back.
Simon’s career slumped afterward, with the next two albums selling poorly.
It was then that a struggling young musician named Heidi Berg began working with Simon, the Carlin book recounts.
Simon and Garfunkel reunite to perform “The Sound of Silence.”
(© Reuters Photographer / Reuter/REUTERS)
She regarded him as a would-be producer who could help her translate the sounds of the South African pop music that she so loved into her first record, according to Carlin.
Berg played her tapes for him during sessions at his apartment. There was one song with a particular hook that enthralled her.
According to Berg, Simon suggested she should go to South Africa and record with the original artists. Berg laughed the suggestion off — she didn’t have that kind of cash.
Simon then borrowed the tape, “Accordion Jive.” By the time the two met again, he’d bought the rights to the song with the hook, “Gumboots” — and intended to blend it with his own sensibilities on his next album.
Berg was stunned and thrust out her hand.
Paul Simon allegedly didn’t credit Alabama musicians in the recording studio for tracks on “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon.”
“Where’s my end?” she demanded.
Their relationship ended at that moment, the book reports.
Simon made a series of even more questionable moves in order to record in South Africa.
Harry Belafonte, whose counsel he sought and whose name he invoked against critics, told him to get in touch with the African National Congress, the insurrectionist anti-apartheid party, and simply inform them of his plans.
Simon refused. Opposition to apartheid had become a burning international movement, one heavily supported by music’s superstars as well as its rank and file, but Simon just would not do it.
Simon came up with the idea to go to South Africa to work with musicians there on “Graceland” after he met an artist struggling to produce her own songs with South African influence.
Still, he was generous with both money and credit to the African musicians who contributed to “Graceland.” The American bands he used on two tracks did not receive the same treatment.
Steve Berlin, the saxophonist with the band Los Lobos, says they agreed to accommodate Simon only as a favor to their record producer.
It was the Swampers’ story all over again.
Simon issued his disembodied demands from the control booth to the musicians in the studio. He wasn’t specific, he just leaned on the musicians to root around for hooks and sounds he wanted to hear.
The band went public with their fury when “The Myth of the Fingerprints” gave solo credit to Paul Simon. A New Orleans band, Rockin’ Dopsie and the Twisters, told a similar story but didn’t press their case.
Garfunkel (l.) hugs Simon on the red carpet at the 2003 Grammy Awards.
(KATHY WILLENS/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Carlin recounts Simon’s most shameful moment: When Little Steven Van Zandt asked him to join a roster of superstars recording his anti-apartheid anthem, “Sun City.”
Simon’s reason for saying no shocked and disgusted many as word spread. He dismissed the ANC as a communist front.
And as for that Nelson Mandela guy?
“He’s obviously a Communist,” Simon said scathingly.
His good friend Henry Kissinger had told him so, the book alleges.
“Graceland” sold 6 million copies and Simon emerged unscathed.