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Old Friends break sound of silence

New York, Sept. 10 (Reuters): Folk-rock troubadours Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel have put aside their personal squabbles and announced that they will reunite for the first Simon & Garfunkel US concert tour in 20 years.

Simon and Garfunkel, boyhood friends who sold more than 40 million albums in the US alone during their collaboration, will launch the “Old Friends” 32-city tour at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Michigan, on October 18.

Simon’s desire to strike out on what became a spectacular solo career, and subsequent tussles over royalties and credit for their collaborative work, are generally seen as what drove apart the old partners, now both 61.

“It was a friendship that was estranged,” Simon told a news conference at the Greenwich Village rock club The Bottom Line.

“Whatever it was, the squabbles, it was time to say forgive and forget and move on.”

Simon said the genesis of the reunion came at last February’s Grammy Awards when they were honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award. They performed together for the first time in nearly 10 years when they opened the telecast with a performance of Sounds of Silence, and decided to bury the hatchet.

The pair played a series of shows in New York back in 1993 and a few shows in Japan that same year. But they have not undertaken a full-fledged tour since they played venues across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia in 1982 and 1983.

The duo, who recorded their first single in 1957 when they were known as “Tom and Jerry”, went on to release hit albums Wednesday Morning, 3 AM (1964), Sounds of Silence (1966), Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme (1966), Bookends (1968) and Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970), and the movie soundtrack The Graduate (1968).

“This is a very deep, old friendship,” said Garfunkel, who went to high school with Simon in the New York borough of Queens. “It’s like family for the two of us. Our moms know each other.”

Simon said he knew they would still have their sweet vocal blend, featuring Garfunkel’s soaring harmonies, that made them so distinctive. The pair went ahead and proved it with live renditions of Old Friends, Homeward Bound and The Boxer, to cheers from a media throng of about 200 people.

Simon said the duo would concentrate on performing their Simon & Garfunkel hits, which won them five Grammy awards in their heyday, in the big-arena concerts.

“We would like to stay as close to the spirit of the Simon & Garfunkel period and our work in the ’60s and early ’70s,” Simon said. “We don’t intend to re-imagine that work.”

Simon said they would work with a seven-piece band. “I’ll be the eighth,” said Simon. “And I’ll be the ninth,” chimed in Garfunkel, gesturing to his throat. “You know my voice is an instrument.”

Simon rolled his eyes at that, but a grin quickly emerged in understanding of his old friend.

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