A Look Back at Simon and Garfunkel at Fordham

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Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence was preserved by the National Recording Registry in 2013.(Courtesy of Flickr)

Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence was preserved by the National Recording Registry in 2013. (Courtesy of Flickr)

By Ryan Di Corpo

As recent Fordham Spring Weekend performers have been viewed as rather lackluster or second-rate acts, The Fordham Ram is here to inform the student body that Simon and Garfunkel twice performed at the Rose Hill Gym during the 1960s.

Founded by singer-songwriters Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, Simon and Garfunkel have risen to iconic status since their disbandment in 1970. The recipients of 10 Grammys Awards and inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Simon and Garfunkel wrote songs “that spoke to a generation,” according to James Taylor.

Yet, the duo initially challenges in finding an audience. Their 1964 début album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., sold few copies relative to the high sales of more popular British Invasion bands, such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Yet, Simon and Garfunkel found sudden success with the September 1965 release of the single “The Sounds of Silence.”

In support of their 1966 sophomore album Sounds of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel embarked on an international tour which included several stops at American colleges and universities, including Fordham.

Simon and Garfunkel first performed at Rose Hill on December 3, 1966 as part of the “Junior Class’s Winter Weekend.” According to a Dec. 2, 1966 article in The Fordham Ram, Winter Weekend included a host of festivities which began with the four-hour “Hazy Shades of Winter” semi-formal dance in the Campus Center Ballroom, now known as the top floor of the McGinley Center.

The dance also provided an occasion for Fordham to relax its alcohol policy, allowing students to provide drinks “on a ‘bring your own’ basis,” according to The Fordham Ram. The next day’s concert, which was scheduled to run approximately 90 minutes in length, began at 8:30pm in the Rose Hill Gym and cost three dollars to attend. Prior to the concert, Fordham hosted an hour-long cocktail party serving “[s]cotch, rye and gin cocktails” and requiring “proof of age […] for girls.”

Simon and Garfunkel returned to Rose Hill on Oct. 13, 1967 for Homecoming Weekend. According to a Sept. 26, 1967 article in The Fordham Ram, Fordham’s “Concert Bureau made a two-thousand-dollar profit” on Simon and Garfunkel’s initial performance the year prior. Adjusted for inflation, that two-thousand-dollar profit equals approximately fifteen-thousand dollars today.

According to then Concert Bureau Chairman John Valente, many attendees of the 1966 concert “were not from Fordham,” which likely aided the Bureau financially. Simon and Garfunkel’s Homecoming performance was both an opportunity for those who missed the first concert to see “the best talent available for that date” and a way to help reduce the Bureau’s $9,700 (today $71,000) debt.

According to Valente, the Bureau had continued to incur debt because of Fordham’s need “to match [its] concerts against downtown Manhattan; a contest not easily won.” The Bureau had already booked its next concert to follow Simon and Garfunkel: a double-bill featuring Richie Havens and The Lovin’ Spoonful to be held on Dec. 9.