Art Garfunkel
Garfunkel performing in 2017 at the London Palladium
Garfunkel performing in 2017 at the London Palladium
Background information
Birth nameArthur Ira Garfunkel
Born (1941-11-05) November 5, 1941 (age 82)
New York City, U.S.
  • Singer
  • actor
  • poet
Years active1956–present
Formerly ofSimon & Garfunkel

Arthur Ira Garfunkel (born November 5, 1941) is an American singer, actor and poet who is best known for his partnership with Paul Simon in the folk rock duo Simon & Garfunkel. Born in Forest Hills, Queens, New York, Garfunkel became acquainted with Simon through an elementary school play of Alice in Wonderland and sought a partnership. Their combined presence in music began in the 1950s, and throughout the 1960s, the duo of Simon & Garfunkel achieved great chart success with tracks such as "The Sound of Silence", "Mrs. Robinson" (written for the 1967 film The Graduate), "Scarborough Fair", "The Boxer" and "Bridge over Troubled Water", whose title also served as the name of Simon & Garfunkel's final album in 1970. Simon & Garfunkel split for personal reasons, but the pair have occasionally reunited in the years since. Both men experienced success in solo careers in the years following the duo's breakup.

Highlights of Garfunkel's solo music career include one 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 eight Grammy Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award.[1] In 1990, he and Simon were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2008, Garfunkel was ranked 86th in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.[2]

Early life

Garfunkel was born in Forest Hills, Queens, New York City, to Rose (née Pearlman) and Jacob "Jack" Garfunkel, a traveling salesman. Art was a middle child with two brothers, the older Jules and the younger Jerome. Jacob's parents had immigrated to the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century and settled in Manhattan. Before his career in sales, Jacob worked as an actor in Dayton, Ohio.[3][4][5][6] Garfunkel is of Romanian-Jewish descent,[7] his paternal grandparents having emigrated from the city of Iași. When he was young, he often sang in synagogue.[8] His maternal cousin was Lou Pearlman,[9][10] founder of the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC.

According to the Across America DVD, Garfunkel's love of 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 goosebumps 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 performed as a cantor, singing over four hours of his repertoire for his family.[4] As a young teen, Garfunkel became ill 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."[11] He met 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.[12][13] 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.[14]

Between 1956 and 1962, the two performed together as "Tom & Jerry", a moniker coined by their label Big Records, occasionally performing at school dances.[15] 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.[15] The single reached number 49 on the pop charts.[16][17] After Tom & Jerry came to a close, Garfunkel released two singles under the name Artie Garr: "Dream Alone"/"Beat Love" and "Forgive Me"/"Private World" with Warwick and Octavia Records respectively.[3] Both singles would fail to chart.[3]

After graduating from Forest Hills High School alongside Simon, Garfunkel initially majored in architecture at Columbia University, where he was a brother in the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and lived in Carman Hall.[18][19] 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.[11][20] While at Columbia his roommate, Sanford Greenberg, developed glaucoma and went blind. Garfunkel assisted him in his homework by reading his textbooks to Greenberg, who went on to graduate with honors.[21] Another roommate of his was Tishman Speyer founder Jerry Speyer.[22] Greenberg later gave Garfunkel $500 to go and record a demo of "The Sound of Silence".[23] Garfunkel ultimately earned a BA in art history in 1965,[24][25] followed by an MA in mathematics education from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1967. He also completed coursework toward a doctorate in the latter discipline at Teachers College, Columbia University during the peak of Simon & Garfunkel's commercial success; however, he later dropped out.[26][27]


Simon and Garfunkel

Main article: Simon & Garfunkel

Garfunkel with Paul Simon in the Netherlands, 1982

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.[28] It was not a critical or commercial success, and the duo split. The next year, producer Tom Wilson lifted the song "The Sound of Silence" from the record, dubbed an electric backing onto it,[29] and released it as a single that went to number one on the Billboard pop charts.

Simon had gone to the United Kingdom 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. After "The Sound of Silence" had started to enjoy commercial success, he returned to the US to reunite with Garfunkel. The duo recorded four more influential albums: Sounds of Silence; Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme; Bookends; and the hugely successful Bridge over Troubled Water.

They contributed to the soundtrack of the 1967 Mike Nichols film The Graduate (starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft). While writing "Mrs. Robinson", Simon originally considered the title "Mrs. Roosevelt".[30] 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!"[31] Simon & Garfunkel traveled together to England in the fall of 1968. They made a concert appearance at Kraft Hall, which was broadcast on the BBC and featured Garfunkel's solo performance of "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her". He received a standing ovation.

While Garfunkel was not a songwriter, 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".[32] He worked as the vocal arranger for the duo, working out by whom the songs would be sung 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. Each pursued solo projects after 1970. They occasionally reunited, 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: 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 but of Garfunkel's childhood in Queens.[33] In 1981, they got together again for a concert in Central Park, followed by a world tour and an aborted reunion album Think Too Much, which was eventually released, by Simon without Garfunkel, as Hearts and Bones. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.[34]

In 2003, they reunited when they received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, leading to a US tour: the acclaimed "Old Friends" concert series. It was followed by another in 2004, which culminated in a free concert at the Colosseum in Rome. The concert drew 600,000 people.[35]

1970–1975: Hiatus and first album

During a three-year hiatus after Simon & Garfunkel's breakup, 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 geometry to high school sophomores at the short-lived Litchfield Academy in Connecticut.[11][36]

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", "I Shall Sing" and "Travelling Boy" as singles. The album was received with mixed reviews, reaching number 5 in the U.S. In 1974, Garfunkel released the hit single "Second Avenue".

On his next album, 1975's Breakaway, Garfunkel briefly reunited with Simon for the 1975 hit "My Little Town". The album also included the singles "Break Away" (B-Side: "Disney Girls") and "I Only Have Eyes for You" (a 1934 song written by Harry Warren),[37] which is noted as Garfunkel's first UK number one.

1976–1979: Solo efforts

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 1977 album Watermark (US No. 19, UK No. 26). It failed to make an impression on the public upon release. Its main single, "Crying in My Sleep" ("Mr. Shuck 'N' Jive") (UK No. 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, which was 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 No. 67, UK No. 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 No. 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 No. 53, US AC No. 5, UK No. 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 No. 29, UK No. 1) (a song written by Mike Batt). A version of "Bright Eyes" also appeared in the movie Watership Down.

Garfunkel's girlfriend since 1974, Laurie Bird, died by 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.[38]

1980–1995: Depression and withdrawal

Garfunkel in a concert in Dublin, c. 1982

In 1980, he sang on the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song "Daylight Again", featured on the album of the same name.

Garfunkel's next album was a low point in his career. The 1981 album, Scissors Cut (US No. 113, UK No. 51) (dedicated to Bird), contained three singles, "A Heart in New York" (B-Side: "Is This Love") (US No. 66, US AC No. 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 No. 12), never released in the US,[39] which contained the minor hit "Sometimes When I'm Dreaming" (UK No. 77, US AC No. 25).

Garfunkel again left the music scene when his father died. In the fall of 1985, he met his future wife, Kathryn "Kim" Cermak; they were married in September 1988.[40] Garfunkel's retirement lasted until his 1988 album, Lefty (US, No. 134), which produced three singles, "So Much in Love" (US No. 76, US AC No. 11), "When a Man Loves a Woman", and "This Is the Moment".

1996–2006: Resurgence

Garfunkel's live 1996 concert Across America (UK No. 35), recorded at the registry hall on Ellis Island, featured musical guests James Taylor, Garfunkel's wife, Kim, and his son James.[41]

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.[42] 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.

In 2003, Simon and Garfunkel reunited again for a successful world tour that extended into 2004.[43] 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), releasing his first Rhino/Atco album Some Enchanted Evening in the United States on January 30, 2007.[44] The album was a dedicated celebration of pop standards of Garfunkel's childhood.

2008–present: Recent events and vocal problems

Art Garfunkel in New York City, 2013

In 2009, Garfunkel appeared as himself on the HBO television show Flight of the Conchords episode entitled "Prime Minister".

Garfunkel continued to tour in 2009 with four musicians and his son.[45]

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.[46] 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.[47]

In January 2010, Garfunkel developed vocal problems following damage to his vocal cords as the result of an incident in which he had briefly choked on a piece of lobster.[48] In March 2010, Simon & Garfunkel announced a 13-date tour. According to a press release, the set list would focus on their classic catalog as well as songs from each of their solo careers.[49] The first date in the tour was on April 24, a headlining set at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Due to his vocal cord injury, singing proved difficult for Garfunkel. "I was terrible, and crazy nervous. I leaned on Paul Simon and the affection of the crowd," he told Rolling Stone several years later.[50] Several months later on June 10, they performed "Mrs. Robinson" at an AFI Life Achievement Award tribute to director Mike Nichols, in what proved to be their last performance together to date.[48] On June 17, Simon & Garfunkel canceled the tour, previously rescheduled for July 2010, which was postponed indefinitely while Garfunkel attempted to recover from a vocal cord paresis.[51]

In November 2010, Garfunkel said that because of quitting smoking he was recovering from paresis and would be touring in 2011.[52]

He tried to resume touring in August 2012 just after releasing a 34-song retrospective, The Singer.[53] Garfunkel scheduled 19 solo shows in the United States and Sweden between August and December 2012. 16 of the shows were canceled. Garfunkel was due to perform at Night of The Proms in Gothenburg and Malmö, Sweden, on September 28 and 29, 2012, but canceled at the last minute due to an "unforeseen vocal issue".[54][55] 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.[56] 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.

The Simon and Garfunkel song "America" was used by Bernie Sanders during his 2016 presidential campaign;[57][58] Garfunkel appreciated Sanders' fight against wealth inequality.[59]

On September 26, 2017, Knopf Doubleday published in hardcover Garfunkel's memoir What Is It All but Luminous: Notes from an Underground Man. Penguin Random House has published it in softcover and audiobook.[60] On April 10, 2023, Garfunkel canceled his remaining concert dates and his management announced that he "that he has decided not to return to touring for the foreseeable future."


Garfunkel, an avid reader and bibliophile,[61] has admitted that while growing up the Garfunkel household was not a literary family and that it was not until entering Columbia University in 1959 that he began to "read a million books and became a reader." Thus began his interest in poetry.[62]

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.[62]

Garfunkel's website contains a year-by-year listing of every book he has read since 1968.[63] 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 1,000th book he read).


Garfunkel pursued an acting career in the early 1970s, 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 nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 1972 Golden Globe Awards.

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 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.

Voice classification

Garfunkel is a tenor who usually sang the higher parts in Simon & Garfunkel's harmonies.[64] Garfunkel's voice changed almost imperceptibly until his late fifties, when it began to lower after years of smoking.[65] He quit smoking around 2010 to aid his recovery from vocal cord paresis.[52]

Personal life

Garfunkel married Linda Marie Grossman (b. 1944), an architect,[66] in Nashville on October 1, 1972, and they divorced in 1975. He has claimed that not only did he not love her, he did not even like her much.[67]

He was romantically involved with actress and photographer Laurie Bird from March 1974 until her suicide in 1979.[68]

In late 1985, Garfunkel met former model Kathryn (Kim) Cermak (b. 1958; Czech spelling Čermák) while shooting Good to Go. They married on September 18, 1988, and have two sons: James, born December 15, 1990, and Beau, born October 5, 2005, via a surrogate mother.[69] As of 2021, James Garfunkel is also a singer. He adopted the stage name Art Garfunkel Jr and released two German-language tribute albums with Simon & Garfunkel's greatest hits.[70]

Garfunkel senior has undertaken several long walks in his lifetime, writing poetry along the way. In the early 1980s, he walked across Japan in a number of weeks.[71] From 1983 to 1997, Garfunkel walked across the United States,[72] taking 40 excursions to complete the route from New York City to the Pacific coast of Oregon. In May 1998, Garfunkel launched an installment walk across Europe,[73] from a start in Ireland to his final stop in Istanbul in 2015.[74]

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, a Yankee, or Giant fan. One day when I was 8 I went to Ebbets Field and saw the Phillies with their red pinstripes, Robin Roberts, Pudinhead Jones. Somehow this was for me. The rest is loyalty. Decades of pain."[75]

Garfunkel has been arrested twice for the possession of marijuana: once in early 2004 and again in August 2005.[76]



Work on Broadway


Main article: Art Garfunkel discography

See also: Simon & Garfunkel discography


Art Garfunkel filmography
Year Film or Television Series Role Notes
1970 Catch-22 Lieutenant Edward J. Nately III Debut Screen Role
1971 Carnal Knowledge Dr. Sandy Kaufman Nomination for Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
1973 Acts of Love and Other Comedies Nick Television film
1975 Saturday Night Live Himself Episode: "Season 1 Episode 2"
1980 Bad Timing Dr. Alex Linden
1980 Laverne & Shirley The Mighty Oak Episode: "The Beatnik Show"
1986 Good to Go S.D. Blass
1990 Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme Georgie Porgie Television film
1993 Boxing Helena Dr. Lawrence Augustine
1994 Frasier Chester (voice) Episode: "Adventures in Paradise: Part 1"
1998 54 Himself Cameo
1998 Arthur Singing Moose (voice) Episode: "The Ballad of Buster Baxter"
2001 Longshot Himself Cameo
2003 American Dreams Mr. Greenwood Episode: "False Start"
2009 Flight of the Conchords Himself Episode: "Prime Minister"
2009 The Rebound Harry Finklestein
2011 Beatles Stories Himself Documentary
2017 Cecile on the Phone Dr. Saltzman Short film

See also


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  • Garfunkel, Art (August 1989). Still Water: Prose Poems. Dutton and Dial. ISBN 978-0-525-24795-1.
  • Cohen, Mitchell S. (1977). Simon & Garfunkel: A Biography in Words & Pictures. Sire Books.
  • Humphries, Patrick (August 1983). Bookends: The Simon and Garfunkel Story. Proteus. ISBN 978-0-86276-063-2.
  • Svenson, John (November 15, 1984). Simon and Garfunkel: A Musical Autobiography. W.H.Allen. ISBN 978-0-491-03490-6.
  • Matthew-Walker, Robert (1984). Simon and Garfunkel. Hippocrene Books. ISBN 978-0-88254-729-9.
  • Morella, Joseph; Patricia Barey (October 1991). Simon and Garfunkel: Old Friends: A Dual Biography (1st ed.). Carol Publishing Corporation. ISBN 978-1-55972-089-2.
  • Kingston, Victoria (May 1997). Simon & Garfunkel: The Definitive Biography. Trans-Atlantic Publications. ISBN 978-0-330-34970-3.
  • Fornatale, Pete (October 30, 2007). Simon & Garfunkel's Bookends (1st ed.). Rodale Books. ISBN 978-1-59486-427-8.