Arthur Ira Garfunkel was singing by the age of four, and received encouragement from his dad in the shape of a tape recorder, which young Arthur was fascinated with, being able to sing and play it back.
Years later, use of tape recorders would be instrumental in helping Simon & Garfunkel hone their unique sound. During one of the duo’s many hiatuses, Art attended Columbia University, where he received a B.A. in Art History and a Masters in Math. While in college, he laid down some solo tracks, under the pseudonym Artie Garr, and performed with the a cappella group The Kingsmen.
Simon & Garfunkel went their separate ways in 1970, and Art acted in a couple of films, Carnal Knowledge and Catch-22. Art did not release a solo album until 1973’s Angel Clare, which yielded the top-ten single, “All I Know”. He followed this up with 1975’s Breakaway, which reached #7 on the Billboard Top 200 and spawned a #1 hit in the U.K. with “I Only Have Eyes For You”, a remake of the old Flamingos song, which also cracked the top twenty in the States. Art’s next album was not as successful: Watermark, originally released in 1977, eventually required the services of Paul Simon and James Taylor , who sang background vocals on a remake of “Wonderful World”, the old Sam Cooke hit. The album was re-released with the new track and “Wonderful World” managed #17 on the Billboard chart. In 1978, Art scored his biggest hit ever in the U.K. a Mike Batt-penned song called “Bright Eyes” which was the main theme of the motion picture, WATERSHIP DOWN. “Bright Eyes” became the most successful 45 in Great Britain in 1979, holding the #1 spot on the U.K. chart for six consecutive weeks. Fate For Breakfast, Art’s 1979 offering, was a massive hit in the U.K., peaking at #2, but scored a modest #67 in the States.
Things were much worse on the home front, however, when Laurie Bird, his live-in girlfriend, committed suicide. Art took a break from recording and returned to the silver screen in Bad Timing and Illusions. His 1981 release, Scissors Cut, flopped. Simon & Garfunkel’s famous concert in Central Park, followed by an international tour, was just the balm needed to soothe Art’s wounded career. That, and a long walk; a very long walk; across Japan. A real-life Forrest Gump, Art spent fourteen years walking across America, from New York to Washington. He followed this up with a trek through Europe. Obviously, he made several stops along the way, long enough to make another movie, Good To Go, and to record 1988’s Lefty and its follow-up, Up ’til Now.
In 1990, Simon & Garfunkel were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Six years later, at Ellis Island, Art performed the aptly titled Across America concert with his son James, wife Kim, and James Taylor . In 1997, Art returned to film, this time as a vocalist, covering Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” for the Jack Nicholson film, As Good As It Gets. In 2002, Art finally released an album of original material, much of it culled from his own poetry, Everything Waits To Be Noticed. Five years later, he teamed up with producer Richard Perry for an album of standards, Some Enchanted Evening. In 2008, Art went on a U.S. tour, with and he and Paul Simon toured together the following year.
His touring in the 2010s was hampered by a problem with his vocal cords but by 2014 he was cured and able to resume his touring schedule.
Simon & Garfunkel recordings
The Sounds of Silence (Paul Simon )
We’ve Got A Groovey Thing Goin’ (Paul Simon )
Here’s his cover of “I Believe When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever”…