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Arthur Ira Garfunkel (born November 5, 1941) is an American singer, poet and actor. He is best known for his partnership in his earlier years with Paul Simon in the folk rock duo Simon & Garfunkel.
Highlights of his solo music career include a top 10 hit, three top 20 hits, six top 40 hits, 14 Adult Contemporary top 30 singles, five Adult Contemporary number ones, two UK number ones and a People's Choice Award. Through his solo and collaborative work, Garfunkel has earned six Grammys, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1990, he and Simon were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Early life and career
Arthur Ira Garfunkel was born in Forest Hills, Queens, New York City, the son of Rose (née Pearlman) and Jacob "Jack" Garfunkel, a traveling salesman. Art is a middle child with two brothers; the older named Jules and the younger named Jerome. Jacob's parents had originally immigrated to the United States at the turn of the century, and chose to settle in Manhattan. Before his career in sales, Jacob worked as an actor in Dayton, Ohio. Garfunkel is Jewish; his paternal grandparents emigrated from Iași in Romania. His maternal cousin was Lou Pearlman, founder of 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys.
According to the Across America DVD, Garfunkel's love for singing originated in the first grade. "When we were lined up in size order, and after everyone else had left, I'd stay behind and enjoy the echo sound of the stairwell tiles and sing 'Unchained Melody' and 'You'll Never Walk Alone', learning to love this goose-bumps song from the tender age of five." Later, Garfunkel's father bought him a wire recorder and from then on, Garfunkel spent his afternoons singing, recording, and playing it back, so he could listen for flaws and learn how to improve.
At his Bar Mitzvah in 1954, Garfunkel sang as a cantor and performed over four hours of his repertoire for his family. As a young teen, Garfunkel was struck with a lung infection, leading to a love for basketball. He explained in a 1998 Interview: "In the summer of '55, I had a lung infection. I couldn't run around, but I loved basketball and there was a hoop nearby. Much of the summer I spent methodically hitting 96, 98 foul shots out of 100. Then 102! I never played on a team after Junior High School. Just 3 against 3, half court pick up games in the schoolyard." He met his future singing partner Paul Simon in the sixth grade at PS 164, when they were both cast in the elementary school graduation play, Alice in Wonderland. It has been said by Garfunkel that Simon first became interested in singing after hearing Garfunkel sing a rendition of Nat King Cole's "Too Young" in a school talent show.
Between 1956 and 1962, the two performed together as "Tom & Jerry", occasionally performing at school dances. Their idols were The Everly Brothers, whom they imitated in their use of close two-part vocal harmony. In 1957, Simon & Garfunkel recorded the song "Hey, Schoolgirl" under the name Tom & Jerry, a moniker coined by their label Big Records. The single reached forty-ninth on the pop charts. Garfunkel ("Tom Graph") chose his nickname because he liked to track, or "graph" hits, on the pop charts. He also released some singles as a solo artist under the name Artie Garr, a shortened version of his name. In interviews, Garfunkel has noted how these early singles distinguished him as a folk-styled crooner, with songs like "Beat Love" and "Dream Alone" (both released 1959).
After graduating from Forest Hills High School alongside Simon, Garfunkel initially majored in architecture at Columbia University in Manhattan in the early 1960s, where he was a brother in the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. Garfunkel was a team member in tennis, skiing, fencing, and bowling at the College and also joined the all-male a cappella group on campus, the Columbia Kingsmen. He ultimately earned a B.A. in art history in 1965, followed by an M.A. in mathematics education from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1967. Garfunkel also completed coursework toward a doctorate in the latter discipline at Teachers College during the peak of Simon & Garfunkel's commercial success.
Simon and Garfunkel
In 1963, Garfunkel and Simon (who graduated from Queens College before dropping out of Brooklyn Law School) reformed their duo under their own names as "Simon and Garfunkel". They released their first album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. on Columbia Records in October 1964. It was not a critical or commercial success, and the duo subsequently split again. The next year, producer Tom Wilson lifted the song "The Sound of Silence" from the record, dubbed an electric backing onto it, and released it as a single that went to number one on the Billboard pop charts.
Simon had gone to England in 1965 after the initial failure of Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. to pursue a solo career. He briefly teamed with songwriter Bruce Woodley of The Seekers before returning to the United States to reunite with Garfunkel after "The Sound of Silence" had started to enjoy commercial success. Thereafter, the duo went on to become one of the most popular acts of the 1960s. Together they recorded four more influential albums, Sounds of Silence; Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme; Bookends; and the hugely successful Bridge over Troubled Water. Simon & Garfunkel also contributed extensively to the soundtrack of the 1967 Mike Nichols film The Graduate (starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft). While writing "Mrs. Robinson", Simon originally toyed with the title "Mrs. Roosevelt". When Garfunkel reported this indecision over the song's name to the director, Nichols replied, "Don't be ridiculous! We're making a movie here! It's Mrs. Robinson!" Simon & Garfunkel returned to England in the fall of 1968 and made a concert appearance at Kraft Hall which was broadcast on the BBC and also featured Garfunkel's solo performance of "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her", which received a standing ovation.
While Garfunkel was not a songwriter per se, he did write the poem "Canticle" as a re-write of Simon's "Side of A Hill" from his debut album, for "Scarborough Fair/Canticle". He also worked as the vocal arranger for the duo, working out who the songs would be sung by and how each song was produced. He is also credited as having written the arrangement on "The Boxer" and creating "Voices of Old People" (an audio montage) on "Bookends". Citing personal differences and divergence in career interests, they split following the release of their most critically acclaimed album, Bridge over Troubled Water, in 1970.
Both Simon and Garfunkel pursued solo projects after 1970. Occasionally they would reunite, as in 1975 for their Top Ten single "My Little Town", which Simon originally wrote for Garfunkel, claiming Garfunkel's solo output was lacking "bite." The song was included on their respective solo albums: Paul Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years and Garfunkel's Breakaway. Contrary to popular belief, the song is not autobiographical of Simon's early life in New York City but of Garfunkel's childhood in Queens. In 1981, they got together again for the famous concert in Central Park, followed by a world tour and an aborted reunion album Think Too Much, which was eventually released (without Garfunkel) as Hearts and Bones.
Together, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
In 2003, the two reunited again when they received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. This reunion led to a US tour: the acclaimed "Old Friends" concert series. It was followed by a 2004 international encore, which culminated in a free concert at the Colosseum in Rome. The final concert drew 600,000 people.
1970–1975: Hiatus and first album
During a three-year hiatus after Simon & Garfunkel's break-up, Garfunkel starred in two Mike Nichols films, Catch-22 (1970) and Carnal Knowledge (1971). He also spent late 1971 to early 1972 working as a mathematics teacher teaching high school sophomores geometry at a short lived Litchfield Private School Litchfield Academy in Connecticut (by request of his fiancée Linda Marie Grossman).
In late 1972, with Simon & Garfunkel having released their Greatest Hits album and briefly reuniting to perform a benefit concert for presidential candidate George McGovern, Garfunkel felt ready to return to his musical career. His first album was 1973's Angel Clare, which contained "All I Know" along with "I Shall Sing" and "Travelling Boy" as singles. The album was received with mixed reviews, reaching no. 5 in the U.S. In 1974, Garfunkel released the hit record "Second Avenue".
On his next album, 1975's Breakaway, Garfunkel briefly reunited with Paul Simon for the 1975 hit "My Little Town". The album also included the singles "Breakaway" (B-Side: "Disney Girls") and "I Only Have Eyes For You" (a 1934 song written by Harry Warren), which is noted as Garfunkel's first UK number one.
1976–1979: Diversity and disaster
In 1976, Garfunkel recorded both background and duet vocals for several artists, including Stephen Bishop's Careless album, James Taylor's In The Pocket album and J.D. Souther's Black Rose album. From December 1976 to September 1977, Garfunkel worked on his next album.
Garfunkel's next release was the 1978 album Watermark (US #19, UK #26). It failed to make an impression on the public upon release. Its main single, "Crying in My Sleep" ("Mr. Shuck 'N' Jive") (UK #25) didn't reach the US Top 40. After a two-month hiatus, it was re-released in January 1978, with Garfunkel's cover of Sam Cooke's "(What a) Wonderful World" (B-Side: "Wooden Planes"), reaching number one on the Adult Contemporary chart and seventeen on the pop chart. Paul Simon and mutual friend James Taylor had contributed backing vocals to the song, making it a huge hit on the US A.C. charts. In 1978, Garfunkel toured the U.S. and Canada extensively with noted guitarist Arlen Roth, John Barlow Jarvis on piano, and Leah Kunkel on second vocals.
Garfunkel's last release of the 1970s was the 1979 album Fate For Breakfast (US #67, UK #2). It was his first US flop. The album's first single, "In A Little While (I'll Be on My Way)" (B-Side: "And I Know") (US AC #12) failed to break the top forty, as did his second single, "Since I Don't Have You" (B-Side: "When Someone Doesn't Want You") (US #53, US AC #5, UK #38). The album was a huge success in the UK, scoring a number one hit with "Bright Eyes" (B-Side: "Sail on a Rainbow") (US AC #29, UK #1) (a song written by Mike Batt). A version of "Bright Eyes" also appeared in the movie Watership Down.
Garfunkel's longtime girlfriend, Laurie Bird, committed suicide in June 1979 at their Manhattan apartment, three months after the album's release in March. Garfunkel later admitted that the incident left him in a deep depression for most of the 1980s, hence the lack of musical output during that time.
1980–1995: Depression and disappearance
Garfunkel's next album was a low point in his career. The 1981 album, Scissors Cut (US #113, UK #51) (dedicated to Bird), contained three singles, "A Heart in New York" (B-Side: "Is This Love") (US #66, US AC #10), "Scissors Cut," and "Hang On In." The latter two failed to chart.
Following disappointing sales of Scissors Cut, Garfunkel reunited with Simon for The Concert in Central Park and a world tour. They had significant disagreements during the tour. In 1984, Stereo Review Magazine reported that Simon mixed out Garfunkel's voice from a new album. It was initially slated to be a Simon & Garfunkel studio reunion, but was ultimately released as a Simon solo album (Hearts and Bones). In 1986, Garfunkel played the part of the butcher on the Mike Batt concept album The Hunting of the Snark.
Garfunkel released his first compilation album in 1984, The Art Garfunkel Album (UK #12), never released in the US, which contained the minor hit "Sometimes When I'm Dreaming" (UK #77, US AC #25).
Garfunkel again left the music scene when his father died, leading Garfunkel further into depression. In the fall of 1985, he met his future wife, Kathryn "Kim" Cermack. They were married in September 1988. Garfunkel's retirement lasted a full seven years, until his 1988 album, Lefty (US, #134), which produced three singles, "So Much in Love" (US #76 AC #11), "When A Man Loves A Woman", and "This Is The Moment".
Garfunkel's live 1996 concert Across America (UK #35), recorded at the registry hall on Ellis Island, featured musical guests James Taylor, Garfunkel's wife, Kim, and his son James.
Garfunkel performed the theme song for the 1991 television series, Brooklyn Bridge, and "The Ballad of Buster Baxter" for a 1998 episode of the children's educational television series Arthur, where he was depicted as a singing moose. Garfunkel's performance of Monty Python member Eric Idle's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" was used in the end credits of the 1997 film As Good as It Gets.
In 2003, Garfunkel made his debut as a songwriter on his Everything Waits to Be Noticed album. Teaming up with singer-songwriters Maia Sharp and Buddy Mondlock, the album contained several songs which were originally poems written by Garfunkel. The album is recognized as his first effort at songwriting since his teenage years with Tom & Jerry.
In 2003, Simon and Garfunkel reunited again for a successful world tour that extended into 2004. That same year, his song "Sometimes When I'm Dreaming" from The Art Garfunkel Album (1984) (written by Mike Batt) was re-recorded by ex-ABBA singer Agnetha Fältskog on her album My Colouring Book.
In 2006, Garfunkel signed with Rhino Records (revived Atco Records), and his first Rhino/Atco album Some Enchanted Evening was released in the United States on January 30, 2007. The album was a dedicated celebration of pop standards of Garfunkel's childhood. In late February 2007, during a German television interview to promote the new album, he expressed interest in reuniting with Paul Simon on a new Simon & Garfunkel album.
2008–present: Recent events and vocal problems
In 2009, Garfunkel appeared as himself on the HBO television show Flight of the Conchords episode entitled "Prime Minister".
He continued to tour in 2009 with four musicians and his son.
On February 13, 2009, Simon and his band re-opened New York's Beacon Theatre, which had been closed for seven months for renovation. As an encore, Simon brought out "my old friend, Art Garfunkel." They sang three songs: "Sound of Silence," "The Boxer," and "Old Friends."
On April 2, 2009, the duo announced a tour of Australia, New Zealand, and Japan for summer 2009. In late October, they participated together in the 25th anniversary of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden. Other artists on the bill included Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, U2, Metallica, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Crosby, Stills, & Nash.
In March 2010, Simon & Garfunkel announced a 13-date tour, to kick off in April with a performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Most performances were scheduled for Canada, with four shows in the upper Midwest of the US. According to a press release, the set list would focus on their classic catalog as well as songs from each of their solo careers. On June 17, 2010, Simon & Garfunkel canceled the tour, previously rescheduled for July 2010, which was postponed indefinitely while Garfunkel attempted to recover from a vocal cord paresis.
In November 2010, Garfunkel said in light of quitting smoking two and a half months before, he was recovering from paresis and would be touring in 2011.
He tried to resume touring in August 2012 just after releasing a 34-song retrospective, The Singer. Garfunkel scheduled 19 solo shows in the United States and Sweden between August and December 2012. 16 of the shows were canceled. His most recent concert appearance was in Stockholm on September 27, 2012. Garfunkel was due to perform at Night of The Proms in Gothenburg and Malmö, Sweden, on September 28 and 29, 2012, but cancelled at the last minute due to an "unforeseen vocal issue." Speaking about his voice in February 2013, Garfunkel said "It's getting mostly better; I'm pretty much there" and that he was starting to book small shows again. In 2014, he resumed touring, with Tab Laven accompanying him on acoustic guitar, his voice restored.
On the September 30, 2015, episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Garfunkel took part in the spoof "Black Simon & Garfunkel" skit with members of The Roots.
Garfunkel, an avid reader and bibliophile, has admitted that the Garfunkel household was not a literary family and that it was not until entering Columbia College in 1959 that he began to "read a million books and became a reader." Thus began his interest in poetry.
Garfunkel's poetic career began in 1981 while on the Simon & Garfunkel 1981–1982 tour in Switzerland. He was riding a motorcycle and began writing a poem describing the countryside. In 1989, Still Water, Garfunkel's collection of prose poetry, was released to acclaim. Topics included his depression over the loss of his father; Laurie Bird, his companion who committed suicide; his friendship with Paul Simon; and the joy of returning to music.
Garfunkel's website contains a year-by-year listing of every book he has read since 1968. Currently the list contains more than 1,000 books. He has also read the entire Random House Dictionary. Garfunkel has an interest in the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, having read his book Confessions at least three times (according to Garfunkel's website, the book was the 1st, 252nd, and 1000th book he read).
Garfunkel pursued an acting career in the early 70s, appearing in two Mike Nichols films: Catch-22 (1970), in which he played a supporting role as the 19-year-old naive Lieutenant Nately, and Carnal Knowledge (1971), a co-starring role in which he played the idealistic character Sandy. His role as Sandy secured him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 1972.
He later appeared in Nicolas Roeg's Bad Timing (1980) as Alex Linden, an American psychiatrist who serves as the film's main antagonist. The film received the Toronto Festival of Festivals's highest honor, the People's Choice Award, and the London Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director.
He appeared in Good to Go (1986), directed by Blain Novak, starring as a Washington, D.C., journalist who struggles to clear his name after being framed for rape and murder. Garfunkel then appeared in the medical crime drama Boxing Helena (1993), directed by Jennifer Lynch, as Dr. Lawrence Augustine.
Garfunkel's most recent film is The Rebound (2010), directed by Bart Freundlich. He played Harry Finklestein, the slightly senile and comic-relief father of the film's main character.
Garfunkel is a tenor who usually sang the higher parts in Simon & Garfunkel's harmonies. Garfunkel's voice changed almost imperceptibly until his late fifties, when it began to lower after years of smoking. He quit smoking around 2010 to aid his recovery from vocal cord paresis.
Garfunkel married Linda Marie Grossman (b. 1944), an architect, in Nashville on October 1, 1972, and they divorced in 1975. He has claimed that the marriage was turbulent and ended bitterly. Garfunkel has not spoken to her since and once said, not only that he never loved her, but that he didn't even like her much during their short marriage.
He was also romantically involved with actress and photographer Laurie Bird from March 1974 until her suicide in 1979. In a 1986 interview, Garfunkel said "I asked myself constantly why I didn't marry her, because surely she was the apple of my eye. She was everything I was looking for in a woman. But I was very hurt by my first marriage, so as far as marriage to Laurie was concerned, I was extra scared. I was heartbroken. It laid me low. I used to get very sad when the sun went down. The nights were very lonely for me."
Garfunkel had a brief relationship with actress Penny Marshall in the mid-1980s and credits her with helping him through his depression. Their friendship stayed strong even after their romantic relationship ended. Garfunkel would later say of Marshall, "Everything changed. Penny is a sweet human being who can bring anybody down to earth. We had a lot of laughs, great sex, and a ton of party nights."
In late 1985, Garfunkel met former model Kathryn (Kim) Cermak (b. 1958) while shooting Good To Go. They married on September 18, 1988, and have two children, James, born December 15, 1990, and Beau Daniel, born October 5, 2005, via a surrogate mother.
Garfunkel has undertaken several long walks in his lifetime, writing poetry along the way. In the early 1980s, he walked across Japan in a matter of weeks. From 1983 to 1997, Garfunkel walked across the United States, taking 40 excursions to complete the route from New York City to the Pacific coast of Washington. In May 1998, Garfunkel began an incremented walk across Europe, the last stop of which was Istanbul, in 2015.
Despite being a native New Yorker, Garfunkel is a lifelong Philadelphia Phillies fan, having written on his website: "I never followed the crowd. So as a Queens kid, I didn't want to be a Dodger, Yankee, or Giant fan. One day when I was 8 I went to Ebbets Field and saw the Phillies with their red pin-stripes, Robin Roberts, Pudinhead Jones. Somehow this was for me. The rest is loyalty. Decades of pain."
His all-time favorite pop song is The Beatles' "Here, There and Everywhere" and his all-time favorite album is Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. When asked about his musical preferences, he answered, "I have a very sure-footed sense of what I like, and exactly how much I like it. Give me two listenings of a song, and I can tell you exactly how it sits with me... I know my musical taste. I know my ears, I know what I respond to."
Garfunkel has been arrested twice for the possession of cannabis: once in early 2004 and again in August 2005.
1972 Golden Globe, Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture, for Carnal Knowledge
1969 Grammy Award, Record of the Year, for "Mrs. Robinson" as part of (Simon and Garfunkel)
1969 Grammy Award, Best Contemporary Pop Performance, for "Mrs. Robinson" as part of (Simon and Garfunkel)
1970 Grammy Award, Album of the Year, for Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon and Garfunkel)
1970 Grammy Award, Record of the Year, for "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
1970 Grammy Award, Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s), for Bridge Over Troubled Water
1977 Britannia Award, Best International Pop LP and Single, 1952–77, for "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
1998 Grammy Award, Best Children's Album, for Songs from a Parent to a Child
2015 The German Sustainability Award
Work on Broadway
Rock 'N Roll! The First 5,000 Years (1982) – revue – featured singer for Mrs. Robinson
Mike Nichols and Elaine May: Together Again on Broadway (1992) – concert – performer
The Graduate (2002) – play – featured songwriter