Lucy Simon, who sang and recorded as the Simon Sisters during the 1960s folk revival, died Thursday at her home in Piermont, N.Y., in Rockland County. 82-year-old
Metastatic breast cancer killed her, her family said.
Ms. Simon had two musical sisters. Carly, her younger sister, became a best-selling pop sensation following their folk duo days, while Joanna was a successful opera soprano. Lucy Simon’s 85-year-old sister Joanna died a day before her.
Teenagers Lucy and Carly sang together. Richard was the “Simon” of Simon & Schuster, therefore Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II visited. Andrea(Heinemann) Simon was their mother.
Lucy Simon told The New York Times in 2015, “We’d bring our guitar and sing.” It was popular.
Eventually, they said, “Let’s try singing,” she said.
In the early 1960s, Carly and Lucy, students at Sarah Lawrence College and Cornell University-New York Hospital School of Nursing, took a bus to Provincetown, Mass. Their mother stopped them from hitchhiking. They got a gig at Moors, whose act had just been drafted. In the first show, they wore similar blouses.
Carly Simon stated in her 2015 memoir, “Boys in the Trees,” “We later learned the Moors was a gay club.” “What the uncombed, ripped-jeans-and-motorcycle-jacketed crowd thought of these sisters is lost to time. Lucy and I took our Moors outfit seriously, so the audience probably thought we were milkmaids from Switzerland or carnival escapees.
Carly Simon said, “Lucy and I agreed that our stage name sounded schlocky and almost embarrassing. Neither of us wanted to be dismissed as simply another novelty sister act.”
In her memoir, Simon recalled the sisterly dynamic of her debut performance.
Carly, the younger sister, tried hard to look and act like Lucy, the older sister, she wrote. “I was taller than Lucy, but emotionally, she was still on top, the light, the beauty, the focus.
My sister was my anchor, my idol, my pilot.
Soon they got a management contract and were booked at the Bitter End, a Greenwich Village venue that launched many talents. In 1963, they appeared on the TV show “Hootenanny” alongside the Chad Mitchell Trio and the Smothers Brothers. In 1964, they returned.
Lucy Simon’s setting of Eugene Field’s children’s poetry “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” became a Simon Sisters staple. It reached No. 73 on the Billboard chart as a single in 1964.
It anchored one of their two albums.
Lucy Simon stopped performing after marrying a psychiatrist in 1967 and having two children. 1975’s “Lucy Simon” was followed by 1977’s “Stolen Time.” She lost her performance zeal.
In the 1980s, she and her husband released two compilation albums of children’s songs by James Taylor, Carly, Linda Ronstadt, Bette Midler, and others. “In Harmony: A Sesame Street Record” and “In Harmony 2” won best children’s album Grammys.
In the 1980s, Ms. Simon made a “Little House on the Prairie” musical. Joanna’s relationship leads her to a successful project.
In 1988, Joanna Simon interviewed playwright Marsha Norman for PBS’s “MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.” Ms. Norman stated she was adapting Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “The Secret Garden” and sought a composer.
Lucy Simon suited Ms. Norman’s lyrics. Broadway opened in April 1991. The Times’ Frank Rich claimed Simon’s music was “fetching when limning the complex passions imprisoned within the story’s family constellations,” but not always successful.
Despite mixed reviews, the production ran for 709 performances over almost two years. Ms. Simon was nominated for a Tony. “The Will Rogers Follies” by Cy Coleman, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green won.
Ms. Simon returned to Broadway in 2015 with “Doctor Zhivago,” but it lasted only 23 performances.
In the same interview, she stated music may be more emotionally powerful than dancing or painting.
“Music is mysterious,” she added. “You can cry more. It’s faster.
Lucy Elizabeth Simon was born in NYC on 5/5/1940.
She and her sisters “came out singing” “We sang on. We didn’t just say “Salt, please” at dinner. We did. Gershwin-style sometimes. Sometimes lied.”
Carly Simon said in her book that pass-the-salt singing helped her overcome a stutter. Their mother suggested Carly sing the phrase. Joanna and Lucy’s encouragement worked.
Lucy Simon’s biggest folk hit, “Winkin’,” was self-help. At 14, dyslexia made it difficult for her to memorize a poem. Setting the poetry to music helped her memorize it. Many artists covered her song.
Ms. Simon composed the music for “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom,” which won Emmys for Holly Hunter and Beau Bridges.
Her photographer brother Peter died in 2018. Julie Simon, James Levine, and four grandchildren survive her, along with her husband and sister Carly.
Simon had surgery in 1985. She said her two sisters came to support her.
“We sang three-part harmony on the stretcher to the OR,” she added. “It helped.”
A previous version misstated Ms. Simon’s birthplace. She died in Manhattan, not Piermont, N.Y.