Gilbert Bécaud

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Gilbert Bécaud
Gilbert Bécaud.jpg
Background information
Birth name François Silly
Also known as Monsieur 100.000 Volts
Born (1927-10-24)24 October 1927
Toulon, France
Died 18 December 2001(2001-12-18) (aged 74)
Paris, France
Genres Contemporary music, Jazz
Occupations Musician
Composer
Actor
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano
Years active 1948–2001

Gilbert Bécaud (French pronunciation: ​[ʒil.bɛːʁ be.ko], 24 October 1927 – 18 December 2001[1]) was a French singer, composer, pianist and actor, known as "Monsieur 100.000 Volts"[2] for his energetic performances. His best-known hits are "Nathalie" and "Et Maintenant", a 1961 release that became an English language hit as "What Now My Love". He remained a popular artist for nearly fifty years, identifiable in his dark blue suits, with a white shirt and "lucky tie"; blue with white polka dots. When asked to explain his gift he said, "A flower doesn't understand botany."[3] His favourite venue was the Paris Olympia under the management of Bruno Coquatrix. He debuted there in 1954 and headlined in 1955, attracting 6,000 on his first night, three times the capacity. On 13 November 1997, Bécaud was present for the re-opening of the venue after its reconstruction.

Biography[edit]

Born François Gilbert Léopold Silly[1] in Toulon, Bécaud learned to play the piano at a young age, and then went to the Conservatoire de Nice. In 1942, he left school to join the French Resistance during World War II. He began songwriting in 1948, after meeting Maurice Vidalin, who inspired him to write his early compositions. He began writing for Marie Bizet; Bizet, Bécaud and Vidalin became a successful trio, and their partnership lasted until 1950.

While touring with Jacques Pills as a pianist, Bécaud met Édith Piaf, the wife of Jacques Pills at the time. He began singing at her suggestion in 1953, with "Mes Mains" and "Les Croix". His first performance came the year after. His hits in the later part of the decade included La Corrida (1956), Le Jour où la Pluie Viendra (1957) and C'est Merveilleux L'amour (1958).

His first hit in the English-speaking world was Jane Morgan's cover version of Le Jour où la Pluie Viendra (as The Days The Rains Came, with English lyrics by Carl Sigman) in 1958. He began acting in the same period, starting with 1956's Le Pays D'où Je Viens. In 1960, he won a Grand Prix du Disque and composed L'enfant à L'étoile, a Christmas cantata. That same year, Let It Be Me, an English version of his Je t'appartiens, became a hit for the Everly Brothers,[2] followed, over the years, by Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, Jerry Butler, Sam & Dave, and James Brown.

Career from 1960[edit]

In 1961, Bécaud wrote and recorded Et Maintenant, one of the biggest selling singles in French history. Translated as What Now My Love, the song became a hit by Shirley Bassey,[2] Sonny & Cher, Elvis Presley, Judy Garland, Andy Williams, Herb Alpert, and Frank Sinatra. After writing the opera L'opéra d'Aran, Bécaud toured Europe and continued recording a string of pop music hits, including Crois-moi ça durera and Tu le Regretteras. He also co-wrote Love on the Rocks with Neil Diamond,[2] which was featured on the soundtrack of The Jazz Singer and was an international hit. In addition, he co-wrote "September Morn" with Neil Diamond.

Marlene Dietrich recorded his "Marie, Marie" and performed it in her stage shows.

His song "Seul sur son Etoile" became "It Must Be Him" (with English lyrics by Mack David), a hit in 1967 for the US singer, Vikki Carr, and the following year another Bécaud song, L'important c'est la rose was given an English lyric (by Norman Newell) and became a hit for the UK singer, Vince Hill under the title "Importance of Your Love".

On 19 June 1968 the American Broadcasting Company aired a half-hour color special starring Bécaud that had been taped in Saarbrücken. Bécaud performed "Nathalie", "Mademoiselle Lise" and "The Day The Rains Came" and sang a duet with Inge Brück, "Sand and Sea". The program also featured performances by João Gilberto, Lill Lindfors and Hans Koller.[4]

Bécaud turned his focus more toward touring than recording into the 1970s. An example was his live performance at the festival The Golden Orpheus on June 1971 in Communist Bulgaria. He followed this with some acting work and at last finally took time off in 1973, citing exhaustion. In 1974, he was named Chevalier in the Légion d'honneur. The following year he scored his one and only entry on the UK Singles Chart with A Little Love And Understanding which reached number 10 in the Spring.[1] Later in the century, he began writing with Pierre Grosz and then Neil Diamond, also penning the Broadway musical Roza with Julian More.

In 1982, he recorded the duet "L'amour est Mort" with Québécoise singer Martine St. Clair at the start of her career.

The 1980s and 1990s saw a slowdown of Bécaud's activity, releasing various compilations and touring occasionally. In December 2001 he died from cancer, aged 74,[2] on his houseboat on the Seine and was interred in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Bécaud's song catalogue, running to around 450 songs,[2] is published by BMG Music Publishing.

Bécaud's song "L'orange" was also the featured track in one of the trailer of the movie Léon (aka The Professional) by Luc Besson.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Studio albums
  • 1953 : Gilbert Bécaud et ses chansons
  • 1954 : Young man of Paris in Moods of Love (recorded in New York)
  • 1955 : Récital N° 1 - Mes grands succès
  • 1956 : Alors raconte
  • 1958 : Salut les copains
  • 1959 : Pilou... Pilou... hé
  • 1961 : Tête de bois
  • 1962 : Le Bateau blanc
  • 1969 : L'un d'entre eux inventa la mort
  • 1972 : Gilbert raconte et Bécaud chante
  • 1974 : Hier et aujourd'hui
  • 1975 : Je t'aime mon frère
  • 1976 : L'amour c'est l'affaire des gens
  • 1978 : C'est en septembre
  • 1980 : Moi, je veux chanter
  • 1981 : Bonjour la vie
  • 1984 : On attend, on attend
  • 1987 : Le Retour
  • 1989 : Fais-moi signe
  • 1993 : Une vie comme un roman
  • 1996 : Ensemble
  • 1999 : Faut faire avec
  • 2002 : Je partirai
  • 2005 : Suite (with DVD)
Live albums
  • 1955-2002: 15 different albums all live at Olympia

Plus rarities:

  • 1957 : À l'Olympia - no 2
  • 1971 : Récital du festival de l'Orphée d'or 71 (Bulgarian release, with 4 more tracks by Jennifer)
  • 1978 : Au Québec - Récital en direct du Grand Théâtre de Québec
  • 2013 : Concerts inédits 1956-1958
Operas, musical comedies, compositions
  • 1960 : L’Enfant à l’Étoile (cantate de Noël) (with Orchestre Philharmonique, and choir of ORTF)
  • 1962 : L'Opéra d'Aran - (2 act opera, music by Bécaud. But he didn't sing on the tracks)
  • 1965 : Concerto pour piano
  • 1972 : La répétition
  • 1976 : Heureux comme un poisson dans l'eau (publicité)
  • 1986 : Roza (musical comedy)
  • 1992 : Aran Opéra (double CD on RCA/BMG, recorded live in 1966, sung by Bécaud)
Soundtracks
  • 1971 : La maison sous les arbres (instrumental)
  • 2007 : Roman de gare
Compilations
  • 1959 : Croquemitoufle (compilation 1953-1958)
  • 1988 : Bécaulogie (9 CD collection)
  • 1997 : Bécolympia (2 CDs, 38 tracks live, 1955-1983)
    • 2003: Bécolympia (rereleased with different order of tracklist and 1 more bonus)
  • 2002 : 50 Ans en Chansons (Long box 3 CDs, many unreleased materials)
  • 2004 : 100 chansons d'or (4 CDs, with 6 unreleased tracks)
  • 2009 : Best of (3 CDs, 49 tracks)
  • 2011 : Best of Eternel (2 CDs, 46 tracks remastered)
  • 2011 : Anthologie Gilbert Becaud 1953-1959 (edited by Frémeaux & Associés - 2 CDs, 36 tracks chosen by André Bernard)
  • 2011 : Essentiel (12 CD box, 9 studio albums remastered, plus best singles + 2 CDs live (Best Of Olympia 1955-1983) + 1 CD of bonus tracks + 64-page booklet of text and rare photos)
  • 2012 : Best of 3 CD (live at l'Olympia + the album Une vie comme un roman + parts from album Ensemble and Fais-moi signe + 3 bonus tracks in German, Sony Music release)
  • 2012 : 100 Chansons (4 CDs, with 8 unreleased tracks from a concert at L’Olympia in 1960)

Singles[edit]

Emblematic songs and compositions:

1950s
  • Mes mains
  • Les croix
  • Mé qué mé qué
  • Je t'appartiens
  • Les marchés de Provence
  • Le jour où la pluie viendra
  • La ballade des baladins
  • Salut les copains
1960s
  • Et maintenant
  • (Âge tendre et) Tête de bois
  • Dimanche à Orly
  • Quand Jules est au violon
  • Nathalie
  • L'Orange
  • Quand il est mort le poète
  • L'important c'est la rose
  • Je reviens te chercher
1970s
  • C'est en septembre
  • La solitude ça n'existe pas
  • L'Indifférence
  • Un peu d'amour et d'amitié
1980s
  • Désirée
  • L'amour est mort
  • Faut faire avec

International / local versions[edit]

  • 1955: "Je t'appartiens" / "Let It Be Me" (Pierre Delanoë - Gilbert Bécaud)
  • 1957: "Le jour où la pluie viendra" / "The Day the Rains Came" (Pierre Delanoë - Gilbert Bécaud)
  • 1961: "Et maintenant" / "What Now My Love" (Pierre Delanoë - Gilbert Bécaud - Elvis Presley)
  • 1966: "Seul sur son étoile" / "It Must Be Him" (Maurice Vidalin - Gilbert Bécaud)
  • 1966: "Plein soleil" / "Sand and Sea" (Maurice Vidalin - Gibert Bécaud)
  • 1972: "Un peu d'amour et d'amitié" / "A Little Love and Understanding" (Louis Amade - Gilbert Bécaud)
  • 1079: "C'est en septembre" / "September Morn" (Neil Diamond - Gilbert Bécaud)

His song "Je t'appartiens" became a signature tune sung worldwide as "Let It Be Me" (in United States). He was also famous for "Am Tag als der Regen kam" in Germany, for "A little love and understanding" in the United Kingdom

Bécaud has collaborated with Neil Diamond cowriting "Love on the Rocks" and "September Morn".

His songs have been adapted and sung by Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, George Harrison, Marlene Dietrich, Julio Iglesias, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, James Brown and others. In France, his songs have been interpreted by Édith Piaf, Johnny Hallyday, Dalida, Patricia Kaas just to name a few.

Filmography[edit]

  • 1956: The Country I Come From as Eric Perceval / Julien Barrère
  • 1957: Casino de Paris as Jacques Merval
  • 1959: Croquemitoufle as Bernard Villiers
  • 1960: In 80 Takten um die Welt (TV film)
  • 1962: Les petits matins as an Air France pilot
  • 1973: Un homme libre as Henri Lefèvre
  • 1995: Navarro as Sarkis (French TV series)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 50. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Thedeadrockstarsclub.com – accessed August 2009
  3. ^ Paris Match No 2744 27 December 2001
  4. ^ TV Guide, 15–21 June 1968, p A-61

External links[edit]