Art Garfunkel is an American singer-songwriter famous for writing and singing famous songs together with his friend Paul Simon, with whom he formed a folk music duo for many years. The following is a biography of the couple, which also recounts the life and solo career of each of them.
The meeting between Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel
Art Garfunkel was born in Forest Hills, New York, less than a month later, on November 5, 1941. Paul Simon was born in Newark, New Jersey, on October 13 of the same year. Both of them are of Jewish origin, and both live in a residential area of New York City. outskirts of New York, Forest Hills, just a few blocks away. They attend the same elementary school, and it’s right in the elementary school period that their first public performance can be traced back. It is a school play that takes up Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” in which Paul Simon plays the role of the White Rabbit, while Art Garfunkel plays the Cheshire Cat. Later the two of them enrolled at Forest Hills High School and started playing together, calling themselves Tom and Jerry, filming the famous cartoon of Hanna and Barbera. Paul chooses the pseudonym of Jerry Landis, while Art chooses the one of Tom Graph. The couple takes a clear cue from the style of the Everly Brothers and starts writing original songs starting from 1957. They manage to record the first song, entitled “Hey, Schoolgirl”, for the Big Records label. The single proves to be a good success, being released both as 45 rpm and 78 rpm (proposing “Dancin’ Wild” on the B side). It enters the top 50 of Billboard’s charts, selling more or less 100 thousand copies. With the same song, on the other hand, Simon and Garfunkel take part in “American Bandstand”, a festival where they also play the famous Jerry Lee Lewis song “Great Balls of Fire”. Still, under the stage name of Tom and Jerry, Simon and Garfunkel record between 1958 and the first half of the sixties several other songs, but they don’t manage to get the success recorded with the first record. Meanwhile, Art Garfunkel attended Columbia University, while Paul Simon took courses at Queens College in New York. In 1963 Simon himself had the opportunity to play first with Bob Dylan and then with Carole King, returning to the limelight in the folk world and making his friend Art listen to some of his songs. Among them are “He Was My Brother” and “Bleecker Street”.The following year Simon &Garfunkel released their first album, “Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.”, with Columbia Records. The album includes an acoustic version of one of their most famous songs, “The Sound of Silence”. There are also four other original songs. There is also “He Was My Brother”, which is dedicated to Andrew Goodman, a friend of a couple of singers, former Simon’s schoolmate and civil rights activist, killed that year in Neshoba County. The record, however, turns out – at least at first – to be a failure from a sales point of view. Paul Simon went to England and recorded “The Paul Simon Songbook”, a solo album, in the spring of 1965. That summer, meanwhile, radio stations in Gainesville and Cocoa Beach, Florida, received more and more requests to broadcast the song “The Sound of Silence”, which became more and more popular, all the way to Boston. With Simon on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, record producer Tom Wilson decides to add drums and electric guitar to the recording of the original track and then release it again as a single. The song reaches the top 40 in the US sales charts, reaching the top of the charts until it reaches the first place. Knowing of the unexpected success of his song, Paul Simon decides to return to America and rebuild the duo with Art Garfunkel. From this moment on, the duo will make several records destined to enter the history of American and world music. It begins on January 17, 1966, with the release of “Sounds of Silence”, an album that takes the name of the song. The LP includes several pieces from “The Paul Simon Songbook”. Among them, “Leaves That Are Green” and “I Am A Rock”, this time reworked with electric instruments. The following year, the duo composes the soundtrack for a Mike Nichols film, “The Graduate”. Thanks to this work Paul Simon wins a Grammy Award. The song “Mrs. Robinson”, helps to make the film famous, starring a young Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft.
In March 1968 the album “Bookends”, which includes “Mrs. Robinson” and “America”, was released. Shortly afterward Art Garfunkel started working as an actor. The films in which he appears are “Comma 22” (1970) and “Carnal Knowledge” (1971), both directed by Mike Nichols (the director of The Graduate). His commitments in this field ended up annoying Paul Simon. The bond in the couple begins to deteriorate. Simon & Garfunkel’s last performances together date back to the late 1960s, with concerts in Oxford, Ohio, and Carbondale, Illinois. Footage from those shows is shown in Songs of America. It’s a television special thwarted by sponsors. The reason for the contrast lies in the positions hired by the singing duo, as opposed to the U.S. war in Vietnam. On January 26, 1970, the duo’s last album was released, titled “Bridge over Troubled War”, with the single of the same name becoming one of the most commercially successful 45 rpm of the entire decade. The album also includes “El Còndor Pasa” and “The Boxer”, so Simon and Garfunkel split up, even if in 1972 the compilation “Greatest Hits” released by the record company achieved remarkable success. The duo Simon & Garfunkel will never officially reconstitute themselves, even if there will be occasions when the two singers will be back on stage together again. It happens, for example, in 1972, with a concert held at Madison Square Garden to support George McGovern, candidate for the American presidency, or in 1975, with the participation in “Saturday Night Live”, a comedy show of the NBC where “Scarborough Fair” and “The Boxer” will be played. In the same period, the two also released together “My Little Town”, a single that immediately climbed to the top ten. While Art Garfunkel is dedicated to both acting and music, Paul Simon focuses only on the second camp. His solo career, however, gives him more than just satisfaction. In 1973 he recorded the record “There Goes, Rhymin’ Simon”. This was followed a couple of years later by “Still Crazy After All These Years”. September 19, 1981, is a historic date for the duo’s career. Simon and Garfunkel get together for a free concert in Central Park, New York. Over 500,000 people attended the event. A few months later, on February 16, 1982, a live album of the event was released. It is probably one of the most famous live records of the 20th century: The Concert in Central Park. In 1983 Paul Simon recorded the album “Hearts and Bones”. In 1986 it was the turn of “Graceland”. In these years Art Garfunkel starred in the films “The Purple Sheet” (1980), “Good to Go” (Short Fuse, 1986), “Boxing Helena” (1993) and “The Rebound – Starting Again from Love” (2009).In 1990 Simon and Garfunkel played together at the ceremony for the inclusion of their names in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Three years later, the two held about twenty concerts in New York, as well as a number of charity shows including one at Bridge School Concerts. In 2003 the couple reunited again performing at the opening of the Grammy Awards ceremony with “The Sound of Silence”. On the occasion the couple receives the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Over the years, Garfunkel has also recorded a number of solo albums, with alternating fortunes. Art Garfunkel is married to Kim Cermack (real name Kathryn Cermack). Known in 1985, they were married in September 1988. They have a son, James Arthur, also a singer. Due to a problem with her vocal cords in 2010, she could not sing for over a year.
1973 – Angel Clare
1975 – Breakaway
1977 – Watermark
1979 – Fate for Breakfast
1981 – Scissors Cut
1986 – The Animals’ Christmas
1988 – Lefty
1993 – Up ’til Now
1997 – Songs from a Parent to a Child
2002 – Everything Waits to Be Noticed
2007 – Some Enchanted Evening