First recorded by Gordon Heath & Lee Payant (1955).
Also recorded by Audrey Coppard (1956), Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger (1957), Martin Carthy (1965), Marianne Faithfull (1966).
Hit versions by Simon & Garfunkel (US #11/MOR #5 1966), Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 (US #16/MOR #2 1968).
From the wiki: “‘Scarborough Fair’ is a traditional English ballad about the Yorkshire town of Scarborough. The earliest commercial recording of the ballad was by Gordon Heath and Lee Payant, expatriate Americans who operated a café and nightclub, L’Abbaye, on the Rive Gauche in Paris, for their album An Evening at the Abbaye in 1955, using an 1891 melody by Frank Kidson (a folk song collector from Leeds). The same arrangement was also included on A. L. Lloyd’s 1955 album The English And Scottish Popular Ballads. Lloyd
“But, the version using the melody later developed by Simon & Garfunkel in ‘Scarborough Fair/Canticle’ was first recorded on a 1956 album, English Folk Songs, by Audrey Coppard. This arrangement was also recorded by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger (‘Killing Me Softly with His Song‘) on The Singing Island (1957) (but it is likely that it was Coppard who learned the song from MacColl, who had published a book of Teesdale folk songs after hearing the song sung in the 1940s). In April 1966, Marianne Faithfull (‘As Tears Go By‘) recorded and released her own take on ‘Scarborough Fair’ for her album North Country Maid about six months prior to Simon & Garfunkel’s release of their single version of the song in October 1966.
“Paul Simon learned the song in London in 1965 from Martin Carthy, who had picked up the tune from the songbook by MacColl and Seeger and included it on his 1965 debut solo album, Martin Carthy. Simon then set it in counterpoint with ‘Canticle’ – a reworking of his 1963 anti-war song, ‘The Side of a Hill’, later recorded for the 1965 UK-only album The Paul Simon Songbook. The copyright credited only Simon and Garfunkel as the authors, causing ill-feeling on the part of Carthy, who felt the ‘traditional’ source should have been credited. This rift remained until Simon invited Carthy to perform the song with him as a duet on stage at a London concert in 2000.
“Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 notched a U.S. Top-20 hit in 1968 with a jazzy Brazilian-flavored version of ‘Scarborough Fair’.”
Audrey Coppard, “Scarborough Fair” (1956):
Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger, “Scarborough Fair” (1957):
Martin Carthy, “Scarborough Fair” (1965):
Marianne Faithfull, “Scarborough Fair” (1966):
Simon & Garfunkel, “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” (1966):
Paul Simon, “The Side of a Hill” (from The Paul Simon Songbook) (1965):
Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, “Scarborough Fair” (1968):