Georges Chatelain

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Georges Chatelain was born at 36 rue Ballu in Paris. This address is where the world renowned musical celebrities Nadia and Lili Boulanger lived and worked. Georges became an author/ composer and musical producer and, in 1966, founded what was the most advanced recording studio of its time in France, CBE. Georges Chatelain was also the sound producer and casting director for France's most popular television show, Les Guignols de l'Information, a spoof on daily newscasts.

The beginnings[edit]

Although extremely interested in artistic endeavors, especially music (piano, guitar, clarinet) and photography and acting, Georges Chatelain chose scientific studies for his higher education. Georges studied mathematics at two of France's top schools "Math SUP and Math Spe. He obtained a degree as an electronics engineer. This formation helped him in the world of show business with his rigorous, disciplined approach. Working in parallel to his scientific schooling, Georges studied at the Jean Périmony school of dramatic arts while also making made in-depth musical studies. Georges appeared as a young lead in Jean Cocteau's The Testament of Orpheus. While on the set Georges made several photographic portraits of the celebrated poet and screen director and of the renowned photographer Lucien Clergue. He appeared in television productions with actress Odile Versois : Les Petits Demoiselles, a film by director Michel Deville appearing with Macha Meril.

Because of his outstanding physical appearance Georges also worked as a photo model which gave him the opportunity to learn technical aspects of photography with famous artists, in particular, Harry Meerson. While on a photo shoot for a magazine Georges posed with a young actress, Mireille Darc, who went on to a long successful career in film and television. An athlete, George practiced fencing, judo, karate, aikido.

Fresh out of school Georges became the guitarist for American-in-Paris singer Nancy Holloway working with another young musician who became a famous singer in France, Nino Ferrer. Georges advised Nancy to record what became the hit which made her famous, Don't Make Me Over (T'en va pas comme ca).

To learn recording techniques George went to Chicago where he worked as a student sound engineer. While there he attended The Old Town School of Folk Music and learned to play country and folk music on the guitar and five-string banjo. He also discovered folk singer Reverend Gary Davis and his very personal style. On his return to France he wrote and published the first folk guitar method (Picking). In France, in 1963 only Chatelain and singer Hugues Auffray could play country style. Georges taught country guitar to two future French music artists, Pierre Bachelet and Dan Ar Braz.

Georges also attended courses at the Actors Studio under Lee Strasberg's direction. This method was a revelation for Georges, who uses this technique when directing or coaching singers or actors.

Returning to Paris Georges cut a country/folk album and two singles for Mercury Records with several of his compositions including Allez Viens, On Danse. This song which was adapted in Dutch under the title De Clown by Pierre Kartner, alias Vader Abraham, was recorded by Ben Cramer, who became a major star thanks to the tune. The song is now a standard in the Netherlands with more than 90 covers including recordings by Frans Bauer, James Last, DJ Otzi, Rob de Nijs, Dario,[disambiguation needed] Beppie Kraft, Ronnie[disambiguation needed], etc.

After recording his first album Georges went to London to seek new songs for his follow up disk. After listening to more than 100 songs he chose one by an unknown composer, Paul Simon's "Sound of Silence." Paul Simon came to Paris and worked with Georges, teaching him guitar techniques . He also taught Georges the instrumental "Anji" composed by Davy Graham. Georges recorded the song in his now-famous studio, CBE, orchestrated by Jean-Claude Petit. The record came out on Barclay in 1975 under the name George Whiteman. It was programmed for three years by French radio stations.

Under Paul Simon's guidance Georges recorded "Sound of Silence" in French.

Georges was a regular at the "Hootenany" organized by Lionel Rocheman in Paris. Among other debutants were Joe Dassin, Long Chris, Claude Lemesle, Martine Habib, Alan Stivell.


Thanks to his experiences and the people he met, Georges decided in June 1966 to build his own recording and photo studio in an old clothing shop at the foot of a public housing building in Paris' 18th Arrondissement. The studio, named CBE, was designed by Georges after having visited all the major recording centers of London. Georges used wood lathes to give the CBE studio its outstanding acoustics.

In August of the same year Georges and his Swiss friend, Gunther Loof, recorded Nino Ferrer in a Dijon nightclub using a Revox tape recorder, a home-made mixing box with four faders and a few resistors . The hit single, "Je Voudrais Etre Noir" was recorded there. Georges also made the cover photo of the record jacket.

Thanks to Jack Robinson and his friend Lee Hallyday, Georges Chatelain recorded and mixed Johnny Hallyday 's "Amour d'éte", the French adaptation of "Love Me Tender," which became a summer hit in 1967.

At the end of 1967 a series of Georges photos were published by Louis Pauwels in his magazine, Plexus. By late 1967 CBE was becoming well known in music circles, especially since Georges had contracted Gunther Loof to build Europe's first eight-track tape recorder which was a veritable technical revolution for the recording industry. Most of the French singing stars came to record at CBE as well as Paul Simon and (thanks to Jack Robinson) Lee Hazlewood, one of America's leading composers/producers (Nancy Sinatra/Frank Sinatra etc.)

Georges imported the Mellotron and the Chamberlin, precursors of today's sound sample players, further revolutionizing recording techniques in France.

Went to London to produce his French language version of a song recorded by the Beatles' Apple artist Mary Hopkins.

With American publisher/record producer, Jack Robinson, Georges produced a young French singer, Gilles Marchal. Together they recorded seven hit singles in a row on AZ records, the company which belonged to Europe 1 radio directed by Lucien Morisse. Gilles went on to appear at the Olympia Music Hall, once as the opening act for Liza Minnelli.

While on his frequent visits to London Georges befriended singers such as Ralph McTell, Bert Jansch, the group Pentangle and bassist Danny Thompson. They often came to visit and to record in Georges ' studio. They worked on a demo album for French singer Martine Habib which lead to her signing by Clive Davis on CBS Records. Martine's album was produced in Nashville by Norbert Putnam with some of the top players including Elvis Presley's background singers, the Jordanaires. Jack Robinson and Georges worked with Putnam on the production.

Back in London Georges was introduced to the famous guitar-maker Tony Zamaitis by Ralph McTell. Georges ordered a 12 string and a 6 string.

Georges attended a concert in London of the Rev. Gary Davis and photographed the show. His pictures were used to illustrate the Stefan Grossman guitar method: « Rev. Gary Davis Blues Guitar».

After CBE[edit]

The CBE adventure ended in 1974 for Georges Chatelain. Georges took advantage of his free time to delve into other fields that impassioned or intrigued him. Among them:

  • Parallel medicine. This led him to study Philippine faith healers accompanied by television producer Claudine Kirgener who worked for French television personality Denise Glaser.
  • The Theory of Colors by Goethe
  • The art of speech and theater by Rudolf Steiner who replied to many of the questions posed by Lee Strasberg in his autobiography.
  • The book, "Talking with Angels", retranscribed by Gitta Mallasz, whom he met at her latest conference in Paris where she signed her own book, "Little Dialogues of Yesterday and Today" who dedicated the book writing "Joy is air of new world."

Back to the world of music in 1982: He started a new company and built a "home studio" with a 24 tracks recorder and once again was the first to introduce new technology: this time the first Linn Drum (electronic drum machine) to France. He launched into audio productions doing advertising jingles. At the same time he produced singer Fabienne Guyon whom he signed to Trema Records. She played featured roles in Les Misérables and the Jacques Demy film "Une Chambre en Ville" and recorded two songs by Miserables composer Claude Michel Schoenberg, arranged by Jean Musy. In 1984 she was chosen to represent Luxemburg for the Eurovision with a song by Georges Chatelain, "A Song of Life," but had other engagements which prevented her to participate.

Georges created the first jingles for what was to become "Skyrock" one of France's leading fm radio stations. One of George's best-known compositions is a theme which became French telecoms "hold the line" music over the past 10 years. Although millions have heard this theme and thousands have called to know where to buy the record, no record label has as yet commercialized it.

In the spring of 1988 the television production company VCF asked Georges to work on audio sector of a new program which was a daily satire of the day's news then called "Les Arenes de l'Info" (The News Arenas) which later became known as Les Guignols de l'Info (The News Puppets). Georges became the show's sound designer and casting director to hire the imitaters for the show. One of whom, Yves Lecoq was propelled to stardom by the show to whom he still lends his voice.

After several years Georges dropped the television activity to undertake a new series of studies: the Marie Jael piano method (a contemporary and friend of Liszt), the Werbeck singing method of Valborg Werbeck-Svärdström, biodynamic agriculture with wine-grower Nicolas Joly in Angers who produces one of the world's greatest wines, the "Coulée de Serrant."

In 1998 Georges was called on by Bertrand Burgalat (thanks to Jean-Max Riviere) to direct singers and actors for a musical comedy written by humorist, Professor Choron: "Dead Drunk for the Country," produced by Canal Plus. Georges give singing and performance directions to such known French artists as Arielle Dombasle, Dick Rivers, Moustique and Benoit Delepine for the Guignols team, Yvan Le Bolloc'h, Bruno Solo, Alain Chabat and television announcer Evelyn Leclerc. Georges was also called on to coach Japanese singing start Cano Caoli with whom he sang and was featured in her clip. Georges also worked with celebrated novelists Michel Houellebecq.

Georges continues his research on learning techniques and the perfecting of his vocal coaching using the Werbeck singing method and the Marie Jael piano method which he taught for two years in a popular music school in Nyon, Switzerland, created by Eliane Dambre and sponsored by singer Michel Fugain and lyricist Claude Lemesle. Considering that the best way for artists to perfect their art is to perform in public every quarter, Georges organizes a show which he has created and directs with his young students.

He just finished a CD album of instrumental music called "Elves stories" which has recently been put on sale on line by CD Baby. Currently he is writing a show, a musical, for which he actively seeking young performers from the four corners of the world.

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