Art Garfunkel biography
Art Garfunkel was born on November 5, 1941, in Forest Hills, New York. He met fellow musician Paul Simon while in school and went on to form a band called Tom and Jerry. Though the duo didn't find much success with the Tom and Jerry moniker, they began to gain a following after changing their name to Simon and Garfunkel and releasing songs that spoke to the generation of the 1960s and '70s, such as "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "The Sound of Silence." They continued to combine their talents to create a catchy folk sound for audiences.
Singer Arthur "Art" Garfunkel was born in Forest Hills, New York, on November 5, 1941, to Rose and Jack Garfunkel. Sensing his son's enthusiasm for melody, Jack, a traveling salesman, bought Garfunkel a wire recorder. Even as young as 4, Garfunkel would sit for hours with the gadget, singing, listening and fine-tuning his voice, and then recording again. "That got me into music more than anything else, singing and being able to record it," he recalls.
At Forest Hills Junior Elementary School, the young Art Garfunkel was known for belting out Righteous Brothers songs in empty hallways, and for performing in plays. He soon caught the attention of classmate Paul Simon. The two lived only blocks from each other in Queens, but wasn't until Simon heard Garfunkel sing that their fates aligned. Soon, the duo began singing in school talent shows and practicing long hours in basements. During their high school years, the future Grammy winners performed as the band Tom and Jerry, writing their own music and making professional recordings. Their Everly Brothers-influenced track "Hey Schoolgirl" was a minor hit, and secured the duo a recording contract with Big Records in 1957.
Simon & Garfunkel
After their initial success waned, Simon and Garfunkel decided to go their separate ways and attend college. Garfunkel stayed close to home and attended Columbia University, where he studied Art History and joined a fraternity. He later earned a Master's degree in mathematics, also at Columbia. Throughout college, he continued to sing, releasing a handful of solo tracks while becoming ensconced in the growing folk scene. Once again, their parallel talents and interests brought Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel together. In 1962, the former Tom and Jerry reunited as a new, more folk-oriented duo.
In late 1964, as the newly minted Simon & Garfunkel, the pair released the studio album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. Now signed to Columbia Records, Simon & Garfunkel began an ascent to folk-rock stardom that continued until 1970. Some of their most iconic songs still grace the airwaves today. Songs like "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "The Sound of Silence," "Scarborough Fair" and "America" are part of the consciousness of an entire generation. Simon & Garfunkel won five Grammy Awards between 1968 and 1970, including Record of the Year and Album of the Year. Perhaps most notable was their work on the soundtrack of the 1967 film The Graduate.
Longtime bandmates Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel parted ways in 1970, but they remained friends, and eventually reunited later in their careers.
Garfunkel remembers their years together warmly: "I'll always be happy to say a little on behalf of the duo. I'm proud of singing those great songs. Now they teach Paul Simon songs in churches and schools as part of the curricula... it seems that part of good citizenship is the knowledge of the songs we did. How can I grasp that?"
Now on his own, Garfunkel peppered his music career with forays into acting. Working again with director Mike Nichols of The Graduate, Garfunkel appeared in the movies Catch-22 (1969) and Carnal Knowledge (1971). He continued his occasional film appearances throughout his career, to significant critical acclaim.
In 1973, Art Garfunkel began his successful solo music career with the album Angel Clare. Throughout the 1970s, he continued to release hit solo albums like Second Avenue, but also expanded his reputation as a diverse talent by singing background and duet vocals with hitmakers like J.D. Souther and James Taylor.
While the 1970s proved to be full of success, the 1980s were a challenge for Garfunkel both professionally and personally. After a brief marriage to Linda Grossman in the early 1970s, Garfunkel dated actress Laurie Bird for five years. In 1979, she committed suicide, leaving Garfunkel heartbroken. Attempting to recover from his loss, Garfunkel released Scissors Cut in 1981, which was dedicated to Bird, but then disappeared from the recording studio for the next seven years. In 1985, he met model Kim Cermack on the set of a movie. The couple married three years later.
It wasn't long before Garfunkel made it back to the stage and the recording studio. In 1993, he released the album Up 'Til Now and began a major reunion tour with his old collaborator Paul Simon. Despite storied tensions between the two stars, they reunite frequently for cameo appearances, singing classics like "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "The Sound of Silence." Although they had performed together several times over the years for benefit concerts and awards ceremonies, the twenty-three concert run in 1993 cemented their legacy even further. Speaking of an artistic high he felt during a reunion concert, Garfunkel said, "I knew we did something right in the 60s, but I didn't know how right."
Today, Art Garfunkel continues to record and perform for solo projects, while also teaming up with famous artists such as James Taylor and Bruce Springsteen. He also continues to appear in movies. Long-distance walking also became one of his passions; he crossed both Japan and the United States on foot.
Although he has been fine-tuning his voice since the age of four, has recorded for most of his life, and has walked across a significant portion of the world, Art Garfunkel still considers his life experiences less about what he has achieved, and more about what he has been blessed with, saying, "I feel somewhat different from many people in the extraordinary amount of good fortune that fell into my lap and made up my life."