GARFUNKEL Arthur
Person
GARFUNKEL Arthur

GARFUNKEL
Arthur

American singer, poet, and actor

Date of Birth: 5 November 1941

Age: 82 years old

Zodiac sign: Scorpio

Profession: Singer

Content

Biography

Arthur Ira Garfunkel is an American singer, poet, and actor. He is best known for his partnership with Paul Simon in the folk rock duo Simon & Garfunkel.

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 Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award. 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.

Early life

Garfunkel was born in Forest Hills, Queens, New York City, the son of Rose (born 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 emigrated 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. Garfunkel is of Romanian-Jewish descent, his paternal grandparents having emigrated from the city of Iași. When he was young, he would often sing in synagogue. His maternal cousin was Lou Pearlman, 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. 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." 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. 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", a moniker coined by their label Big Records, 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. The single reached number 49 on the pop charts.

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. 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. 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. Greenberg later gave Garfunkel $500 to go and record a demo of "The Sound of Silence". Garfunkel ultimately earned a BA in art history in 1965, 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.

Career

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 split. 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 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". 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 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". 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. 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.

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.

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".

Garfunkel 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 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. 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. The first date in the tour was on April 24, a headlining set at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz and 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. Several months later on June 10, they performed "Mrs. Robinson" at an American Film Institute Life Achievement Award tribute to director Mike Nichols, in what proved to be their last performance together to date. 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.

In November 2010, Garfunkel said that because of quitting smoking 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. 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." 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.

The Simon and Garfunkel song "America" was used by Bernie Sanders during his 2016 presidential campaign.

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.

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