Carly Simon Loses Both Sisters to Cancer One Day Apart
Carly Simon lost both her sisters to cancer one day apart this week.
Opera singer Joanna Simon died of thyroid cancer on Wednesday at age 85, and Broadway composer Lucy succumbed to breast cancer at age 82 the following day. The sisters previously lost their younger brother, photographer Peter, in 2018 at age 71.
Joanna Simon’s stage career began in 1962, and she performed with the New York Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic, among others, until her semi-retirement in 1986. She became a TV arts correspondent and won an Emmy in 1991 for a report on mental health’s effect on creativity.
Lucy Simon achieved success in 1991 when she won a Tony Award for the music for The Secret Garden. She later worked on a series of musicals and scored the 1993 movie The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom. Prior to her death, she had been working on music for the upcoming production On Cedar Street.
Carly and Lucy worked together in the ‘60s as the Simon Sisters, releasing three albums together. They both went solo in the ‘70s, and Carly catapulted to fame with songs including “You’re So Vain” and “Nobody Does It Better.”
In a 2016 interview with PopMatters, Carly described herself, Joanna and Lucy as “three girls who were brought up speaking very much with the same voice, the voice of my mother, the way she pronounces words. We all pronounce words pretty much the same.”
She recalled sharing an apartment with Joanna in the late ‘60s, saying, “I couldn’t keep my shoes in the room that she was in or that was our shared living room. She’s very neat and I wasn’t. I was much more of a bohemian. I couldn’t quite get it all together. I couldn’t make my bed every day. I tried. I remember my room was in the back of the building. It looked out onto other buildings that were very close by. Joey tried to put a positive spin on it by saying, ‘Look at the birds outside. Isn’t that sweet? Let’s feed them.’”
Carly also recalled how she and Lucy landed their first gig at a gay bar on Cape Cod. “In the first place, when we hitchhiked up there, I had no idea that we’d get the job or a job,” she said. “We went up there with the idea that if we didn’t get a job as singers we would just spend our summer learning more about the guitar. Lucy would teach it to me. We would just have a musical summer walking up and down Commercial Street.”
Fate intervened for the sisters, however. “We made our way up to the [venue],” she said. “It was Vietnam time and the man who had been entertaining there had just been drafted into the army. It was like the very next day. We got the job.”