The early 80’s were Paul Simon’s least successful years, but the release in 1986 of the Grammy winning Graceland marked a strong return for the artist. Simon had lost his inspiration when he heard the instrumental Gumboots from South Africa’s Boyoyo Boys. Simon was intrigued, and wrote lyrics for the song. Soon he was in South Africa, navigating around boycotts due to the country’s aparthied policies to record the album. Completing the album in New York, Graceland was a huge success becoming the biggest selling album since Michael Jackson’s Thriller released four years earlier.
Paul Simon announced his retirement from touring in 2018 and has only performed in public one time since then. Simon and Garfunkel were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and Simon again in 2001 as a solo artist. He has won 12 Grammy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award.
As a performer or host, Paul Simon has appeared on Saturday Night Live 14 times, including the first episode to air after the 911 attacks. Simon’s long relationship with SNL producer Lorne Michaels goes back to 1977 when he produced The Paul Simon Special.
Photo by Frank Beacham