Died thirty years ago, at the age of 62, the author of “La Javanaise” remains one of the most iconic figures of French song. Author of considerable success for himself as for many other performers, especially women, the artist Serge Gainsbourg was a complex man, with a bumpy course and a paradoxical personality, as shy as provocative, as complex as he was falsely arrogant at times.
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Born Lucien Ginsburg in a Jewish family emigrated from Russia and Ukraine, he had to wear the yellow star and hide during the Occupation in order to escape the Nazis and their French henchmen. Painter at first, before destroying his canvases one day of discouragement, Serge Gainsbourg, pseudonym adopted in 1957, entered the music by the song “left bank”, in the Parisian cabarets, in the middle of the 50s. Michèle Arnaud and Juliette Gréco, he recorded his first album in 1958, “Du chant à la une! », From which emerges his first success (esteem),« Le poinçonneur des Lilas ».
France Gall, François Hardy, Brigitte Bardot
During the 60s, several of his songs were regularly broadcast on the airwaves (“Water in the mouth”, “La chanson de Prévert”, “Couleur café” …), but he did not know the real big popular success until through her collaborations with young singers such as France Gall (“Wax doll, sound doll”, “Annie likes lollipops” …) or, later, Françoise Hardy (“Comment te dire adieu”), or with the French film star Brigitte Bardot (“Harley Davidson”, “Bonnie and Clyde”…) who briefly shares her life. His albums, often recorded in England, although appreciated by a fringe of connoisseurs, sell very little.
Famous and sulphurous
Everything changes from his meeting with Jane Birkin and the duo “Je t’aime, moi non plus” with shattering international success, mixed with scandal. Daddy of young Charlotte, Serge Gainsbourg then becomes a famous and sulphurous character, even if, after the relative success of “Je suis come vous dire que je ma Départ”, he had to wait for the disco single “Sea sex and sun », In 1978, and especially his foray into reggae, in 1979, with the album« Auxarmes et cætera »(and another famous scandal when he drew the anger of certain veterans), so that the public finally begins to buy his records en masse.
Gainsbourg becomes Gainsbarre
In the 80s, Gainsbourg, also director of four more than unforgettable films and of a novel without great interest (“Evguéni Sokolov”), disappears more and more behind the character of Gainsbarre, unshaven night owl, dressed in jeans, often drunk and seeming to burn the candle at both ends. Tired of his excesses, Jane Birkin leaves him. Gainsbourg then meets Bambou, who will be his last companion and who gives him one last son, Lucien, in 1986. The decade is triumphant, whether on record, in funky mode (“Love on the beat”, “Lemon incest”, “You’re under arrest”, “Aux enfants de la chance” …), or on stage, and marked by new collaborations (Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Adjani, Vanessa Paradis, and always Jane Birkin, of course, to whom he continues to reserve his most beautiful nuggets …) and new provocations on television, where he is frequently invited, multiplying scandals.
A last album never recorded
Celebrated by all the French song, especially the young generation, recognized by many international musicians and covered with awards, Serge Gainsbourg passed away on March 2, 1991, at his home at 5 bis rue de Verneuil, in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, following her fifth heart attack. He had composed a new blues album which he planned to record from the following week, in New Orleans, United States. The record will remain in the notebooks forever.
The thirty years since his death have seen neither his aura nor the impact of his music fade. On the contrary, the list of artists who claim to be the creator of “The Story of Melody Nelson” and his work continues to grow, year after year, and his songs continue to be broadcast abundantly on all radio and radio stations. now also fill the playlists of streaming platforms. Once so controversial, “The man with the head of cabbage” has definitely entered French heritage.
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