Devastating Details About Paul Simon's Personal Life

Having started writing songs at 13, Paul Simon dedicated nearly all of his life to his craft. As such, his personal life often influenced his work — and vice-versa. The massively famous duo Simon & Garfunkel, which he formed with Art Garfunkel, infamously disbanded amid vicious animosity. Simon & Garfunkel technically split when Garfunkel starred in the 1970 "Catch-22" adaptation while Simon's part was dropped, creating resentment and logistic problems for them. "He said, 'Well, the way I see it is I'll do movies for six months, and you'll write songs and then I'll come back and then I'll sing, you know, for six months.' And I thought, 'Yeah, the hell with that,'" Simon recalled on CNN's The Axe Files in 2016. But the end of Simon & Garfunkel actually stems from the collapse of their friendship.

Simon went on to carve a successful solo career, but his life was still often in the press. Simon has had three marriages, all of which were marked by major ups and downs and plenty of controversy — starting with the first one. Simon's first wife, Peggy Harper, was married to his manager, Mort Lewis, when they first met, according to Peter Ames Carlin's 2016 biography "Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon." Similarly, Simon reportedly met Carrie Fisher through his then-girlfriend, the "Shining" star Shelley Duvall, with whom he had been living for two years, People reported in 1981. Simon is undoubtedly one of the big songwriters of his generation, but his life was anything but smooth.

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel's feud hails back to adolescence

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel's relationship was complicated from the start. Before they made it big as Simon & Garfunkel, the childhood friends already displayed an imbalance in their professional dynamics. As Simon was the main songwriter, he was often considered the duo's lead, so to speak. But Garfunkel's tenor quickly began to draw praise from the critics, and the battle of egos took over. "They envied the other's place in the team," their manager, Mort Lewis, told Robert Hilburn in "Paul Simon: The Life."

In Simon's mind, Garfunkel had more visibility with the audience because the singing is generally what stands out. "Meanwhile, Artie knew Paul wrote the songs and thus controlled the future of the pair," Lewis concluded. That was an insecurity Garfunkel carried with him since he and Simon were 16 when Simon recorded a solo album under the pseudonym True Taylor. "It made Artie very unhappy," Simon told Playboy in 1984. "He looked upon it as something of a betrayal. That sense of betrayal has remained with him."

Simon wasn't wrong. In his 2017 memoir "What Is It All But Luminous, Notes from an Underground Man," Garfunkel admitted as much. "The friendship was shattered for life," he wrote. Simon & Garfunkel split in 1970 but continued to reunite for concerts until the April 2010 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage, when even that arrangement became unsustainable. "I was tired of all the drama," Simon told Hilburn.

Paul Simon feels his stature hurt his career

At 5 feet 3 inches, Paul Simon is never the tallest man in the room, a feature he believes played against him. "There is a prejudice against small men and that becomes a problem at times, because I happen to be an alpha-maleish-type guy. It becomes a competitive thing," he told Robert Hilburn in "Paul Simon: The Life." Simon might have had a point, considering his height became the subject of competition even within Simon & Garfunkel. 

Amid increasing friction, Art Garfunkel used Simon's insecurities against him. "During a photo session at Big Records, something happened, and Artie said, 'No matter what happens, I'll always be taller than you,'" Simon recalled Garfunkel saying, referring to the label they were signed to when they still performed under the name Tom & Jerry. Simon never forgot the attack. "It hurt enough for me to remember sixty years later," Simon said.

All these years later, Garfunkel still uses Simon's stature as a way to get back at his former music counterpart. In a 2015 interview with The Telegraph, Garfunkel said he became close with Simon out of empathy to compensate for his complex. "That compensation gesture has created a monster." It took Simon a while, but he has learned to accept himself for who he is. "I told myself, 'Listen, man, if you're going to make a big issue out of what you don't have, you're taking your actual gifts for granted," Simon told Hilburn.

Paul Simon has struggled with mental health issues

Paul Simon has struggled with mental health issues nearly all of his life. "I've had a tendency to slip into some form of depression, but it has been mild, not chronic — part of my personality since adolescence," Simon said in Robert Hilburn's "Paul Simon: The Life." While he believes his condition wasn't severe, Simon went through periods where it hit him harder. In 1980, after struggling to produce new music, Simon starred in and wrote songs for the film "One-Trick Pony" in hopes of revitalizing his career. 

But it didn't happen. "The movie came out with mixed reviews — and the soundtrack album didn't do nearly as well as I'd hoped. It was a period of great depression for me," Simon told Playboy in 1984. "I was immobilized." Around that time, Simon sought professional help from a psychiatrist. His writer's block was a major contributing factor, and his personal life wasn't helping. At the time, he and Carrie Fischer were in a rough patch. "She and I were breaking up, which we were always doing," he said.

His psychiatrist addressed the reasons behind Simon's inability to work and helped him start writing again. "He was able to penetrate someone whose defenses were seemingly impenetrable," Simon explained. In 1987, Simon founded the Children's Health Fund, which brings medical, dental, and mental health attention to impoverished areas in New York. In 2014, Simon was recognized by the National Association of Broadcasters for his efforts.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Paul Simon was reportedly 'angry' at Carrie Fisher for miscarrying

Paul Simon's relationship with Carrie Fisher didn't produce any offspring, but it did reportedly produce a pregnancy. In 1984, a year after tying the knot, Carrie was said to have gotten pregnant. But it ended up being an ectopic pregnancy, which happens when the egg implants outside the uterus and can cause serious complications, including death. Instead of showing support, Simon brushed the "Star Wars" actor's feelings aside. "Paul was very cold to her during this time. He seemed distracted and not thinking of her," Fisher's friend Alice Spivak said in Sheila Weller's "Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge."

According to the biography, not only was Simon cold, but he also seemed to blame her. "He actually appeared to be angry with her about it," Spivak said, with another source adding: "She lost a baby and it was rough and it was weird. Paul did not deal with it very well." The aftermath of the miscarriage was said to have caused their divorce that same year. "This is when she knew the marriage was over," Spivak said. However, Fisher and Simon went on to reconcile shortly after.

Their post-breakup relationship lasted for another decade, suggesting Fisher and Simon got along better outside the confines of marriage. "No, we didn't remarry. We dated again. Which is exactly what you want to do after you've been married and divorced," Fisher wrote in her 2008 memoir, "Wishful Drinking."

Paul Simon was arrested over a domestic dispute

In April 2014, Paul Simon and his third wife, Edie Brickell, were taken into custody after a domestic dispute at their Connecticut home, The Guardian reported. "There was aggressiveness on both sides," the police chief said. "They're both victims." They were charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. A few weeks later, the charges were dropped against both musicians, according to CNN. Simon played down what had happened. "Edie and I are fine," Simon said in court. "We're going to see our son's baseball game this afternoon."

Brickell also brushed it off, even blaming herself. "I got my feelings hurt and I picked a fight with my husband," the "What I Am" singer said, according to CNN. "The police called it disorderly. Thank God it's orderly now." Simon disagreed the blame should be placed on her. "I hurt her deeply. Frankly, I got what I deserved," Simon said in a statement shared by the Connecticut Post. "Thank God we still love each other."

Simon and Brickell, who have been married since 1992, put the troubling incident behind them. Just days after their arrest, the couple released a duet. "I wouldn't trade places with anyone, none of them, because I'd like to get to know you again," the lyrics said. Nearly a decade later, they're still together. Even now, they make time for romantic getaways. In June 2022, they seemed to enjoy each other's company in sunny Italy.