Paul Simon‘s tour in support of new LP Stranger to Stranger rolled into Berkeley, California Friday, the same night Muhammad Ali died at the age of 74. As the boxer’s death happened while the singer was onstage, it was Simon who informed the audience of Ali’s passing while performing, fittingly, the Simon & Garfunkel classic “The Boxer.”
Midway through the song, Simon told the Greek Theatre crowd, “I’m sorry to tell you this way, but Muhammad Ali has passed away.” The stunned crowd then audibly let out their grief before Simon gracefully stepped back into the 1969 song, “In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade.” The San Jose Mercury News wrote that the news of Ali’s passing added a layer of poignancy to the evening’s final song, “The Sound of Silence.”
Following the death of Ali, many in the music world have paid tribute to “The Greatest,” including Paul McCartney, who wrote of the three-time heavyweight champion and cultural icon, “Besides being the greatest boxer, he was a beautiful, gentle man with a great sense of humour who would often pull a pack of cards out of his pocket, no matter how posh the occasion, and do a card trick for you.”
Muhammad Ali, legendary boxing champion and social activist, has died at the age of 74.