Art Garfunkel contributed high harmonies, some lead vocals, coproduction, and arranging ideas to Simon and Garfunkel's string of folk-pop hits in the late '60s. The duo disbanded in 1970, partially due to Garfunkel's growing interest in film. He has released occasional solo albums since. The two reunited to sing for half a million fans at a September 1981 concert in New York's Central Park and have toured together several times since.
Garfunkel met Paul Simon in grade school in Queens. The two had a teenybopper hit record, "Hey Schoolgirl" (Number 49, 1958), as Tom and Jerry. Garfunkel also recorded a few unsuccessful sides on his own as "Arty Garr" for the Octavia and Warwick labels in the early '60s. But he had been seriously studying architecture and mathematics at Columbia University before deciding to join Simon in a professional music career.
Garfunkel's first film, Catch-22, was shot in 1969 as he and Simon drifted apart, and Garfunkel appeared in Carnal Knowledge (1971) and in Nicolas Roeg's Bad Timing/A Sensual Obsession (1980). He didn't revive his recording career until 1973, with the lavishly orchestrated Angel Clare (Number Five), which included the first of his solo hit singles, Jimmy Webb's "All I Know" (Number 9, 1973). His other appearances in the Top 40 in the '70s included "I Only Have Eyes for You" (Number 18, 1975) and "Breakaway" (Number 39, 1976). Garfunkel is particularly fond of moody, romantic ballads. His 1975 LP, Breakaway, included a studio reunion with Simon for "My Little Town," which became a Top 10 hit. In 1978 Garfunkel teamed up with Simon and James Taylor for a Top 20 version of Sam Cooke's "(What a) Wonderful World"; he also undertook his first U.S. solo tour.
Garfunkel seemed to fade from view in the 1980s, but 1993 saw the release of Up 'Til Now, which hit the stores around the same time as Garfunkel's acclaimed onstage reunion with his former partner at the Paramount Theater at Madison Square Garden for a 23-concert run. Garfunkel also returned to the big screen that year, costarring in director Jennifer Lynch's controversial film Boxing Helena. He has also embarked on several walking campaigns: He crossed Japan by foot in the early '80s and traversed America in 40 intervals between 1984 to 1996. As of 2000 he was making his way across Europe.
This biography originally appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001).
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