Paul Simon vs. Art Garfunkel
The childhood friends first recorded together as teenagers in 1957, but as Garfunkel began to focus on his academic career, Simon quietly inked a solo side deal. Garfunkel took it as a serious betrayal when he learned of his musical partner's extracurricular endeavors, and the incident would be a sore point in the decades to come.
After the two scored global fame in the mid-Sixties, long-held resentments made the union a ticking time bomb. The detonation occurred in late 1968 when director Mike Nichols offered them both roles in his adaptation of the book Catch-22. Simon's character was cut before production began, so Garfunkel flew solo to shoot in Mexico. Initially Simon had been supportive of the outing, even penning "The Only Living Boy in New York" as a tender good luck for his old friend. But as the three-month film shoot stretched into nearly a year, Simon grew frustrated by the delay.
Garfunkel's eventual return failed to repair relations, and the two clashed over differing musical ideas. Simon had written a song called "Cuba Si, Nixon No," which he presented as a potential 12th track on what would become Bridge Over Troubled Water. Garfunkel, turned off by its overt political commentary, suggested doing a Haitian Creole chorale called "Feuilles-O." Neither side would budge. The album was released with only 11 songs, and the pair decided to go their separate ways.
It was during a professional nadir in 1981 that they agreed to reunite at a free concert in New York's Central Park. The performance became of one of the biggest musical events in history, drawing an unparalleled 500,000 people to the Great Lawn. A world tour was planned for May 1982, but it wasn't long before they fell into the same destructive patterns. Things weren't any better in the studio as they worked on an all-new Simon & Garfunkel album to be called Think Too Much. In the end, Simon wiped Garfunkel's vocal tracks and set about finishing the songs as a solo effort.
Eyebrows were raised during their somewhat frosty Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech in 1990. Garfunkel started off sincere, saying, "I want to thank most of all the person who has most enriched my life by putting these great songs through me: My friend Paul here." It should have been a touching moment of reconciliation, save for Simon's parting joke. "Arthur and I agree about almost nothing," he said. "But it's true, I have enriched his life quite a bit, now that I think about it."
The men hit the road for high-profile reunion tours in 1993, 2003 and 2010, but it never stuck. The same unexplainable force that blends their voices together in celestial harmony also compels them to spend the majority of their time apart.