Michel Polnareff

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Michel Polnareff
Michel polnareff bercy.jpg
Michel Polnareff at Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy in 2007
Background information
Born (1944-07-03) 3 July 1944 (age 70)
Origin Nérac (Lot-et-Garonne, France
Genres Folk rock, rock, psychedelic pop, pop, jazz rock
Occupations Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, piano, guitar, percussions, bass, keyboards, xylophone, synthetisers
Years active 1966–present

Michel Polnareff (born 3 July 1944, Nérac (Lot-et-Garonne, France) is a French singer-songwriter, who was popular in France from the mid-1960s until the early 1990s with his last original album, Kama-Sutra. Since then, without any proper new original album, he is still critically acclaimed and occasionally tours in France.

Michel was born into an artistic family: his mother, Simone Lane, was a dancer and his father, Leib Polnareff or Léo Poll worked with Édith Piaf. He learned piano by age five and was a very good music student. He learned the guitar, and after his studies, military service, and a brief time in insurance, he began to play his guitar on the steps of the Sacré Cœur.

Early successes[edit]

In 1965, Polnareff won the Disco Revue prize in Paris. This victory let him record a disc at Barclay, but as part of the counterculture he turned down this opportunity. It was Lucien Morisse, then director at Europe 1, who made him sign with AZ. His first disc, La Poupée qui fait non (1966), was an unexpected success. Its new musical style and Polnareff's atypical image, crossed borders. During this period, he played concerts in Brussels for one week sharing the bill with Jeff Beck.

An atypical character[edit]

Polnareff also played with his image: black glasses, fancy trousers, and ambiguous provocations. His song L'Amour avec Toi could not be played before 10 pm because it was considered "pornographic" at the time in France (the song is mild by today's standards). From 1969 on, Polnareff was hugely successful: tours, music videos, hits. He also became the target of scandalmongers. Tragedy struck in September 1970, when his friend Lucien Morisse committed suicide.

Depression and distance[edit]

After a rest period in the Paris area, and long months in isolation, Polnareff gradually resumed touring. His health and his morale improved, but not his sight: he was forced to protect his eyes with thick, dark sunglasses. His problems didn't stop there. In 1972, a promotional poster showed his naked buttocks. Although the scandal benefitted him commercially, it brought censorship and lawsuits.[1] Then, during a world tour, he learned that Bernard Seneau, his manager, had run off with his money, leaving him broke. Unable to pay his debts, and crushed by the death of his mother, he left France for the United States, where he lived in anonymity. He was joined by his friend, Annie Fargue who became for many years his manager.

Polnareff in the USA[edit]

Then, in 1975, his song Jesus for Tonight made it onto the American Billboard. He also created the soundtrack for the exploitation rape drama Lipstick (1976), which starred American model Margaux Hemingway and her sister Mariel. But his success in the United States was not as great as in France. Plus, Polnareff had left behind his fellow musicians and the musical community. He discovered a passion for computers. A tour in 1975 brought him to Belgium, where thousands of French fans came to see him. His forced exile did not prevent him from composing, and his albums had various success. But it was Bulles in 1981 that proved that France had not forgotten him.

Return to France[edit]

Polnareff made a surprise return to France in 1989. Without any promotion, "Goodbye Marylou" invaded the airwaves and became a hit. For a year and a half, Polnareff was locked up at Royal Monceau in Paris and recorded Kama Sutra, with Mike Oldfield adding some guitar parts. This album debuted in February 1990 and marked Polnareff's true return. However, rumors spread about his health, and in 1994 he decided to have a cataract surgically removed to prevent him from becoming blind. In 1995, he returned to the United States to create his famous album Live at the Roxy with Musical Director / guitarist Dick Smith. Smith also executive-produced the ambitious live record which achieved platinum certification in France. To mark this occasion, the channel Canal + devoted a special to him entitled "À la Recherche de Polnareff" ("In Search of Polnareff"), in which he appeared in military uniform (from whence his recent nickname "The Admiral" may come) and was interviewed in the desert by Michel Denisot. This was followed by an acoustic mini-concert in the middle of the California desert.

Following the media attention in 1995 and 1996, Polnareff could have restarted his career as though nothing had happened. However, his fans still await, almost twenty years later, an album which may never come. However, some of his early songs are becoming popular again, like "La Poupée qui fait non" by Mylène Farmer and Khaled (1996), and "On Ira Tous au Paradis", which became the theme song of Restaurants du Cœur in 1998. His 1977 hit "Lettre à France" enjoyed a new success in 2004 following its inclusion on the French version of the Star Academy talent contest.

Polnareff sold over three million albums and four million singles in France to date.[2]

Polnareff today[edit]

On 22 November 2004, and again on 18 December 2005, France 3 broadcast a one and a half hour documentary entitled "Michel Polnareff Dévoilé" ("Michel Polnareff Revealed"). It includes images from rare files mixed with interviews with media personalities like Marc-Olivier Fogiel, Jacques Séguéla, Jean-Luc Lahaye and Frédéric Beigbeder explaining to the televiewers what Michel Polnareff represented for them and for France. Polnareff also revealed that he was working on a new album. On 12 May 2006, Michel Polnareff announced that he would be giving a series of concerts between 2 March and 14 March 2007. Ticket sales rocketed, showing that Polnareff has not lost his gleam. On Bastille Day, 2007, Polnareff gave a free concert.

In 2001, death rapper Necro sampled Polnareff's "Voyages" for his song "Light My Fire". English band The Shortwave Set sampled this song as well for their single "Is It Any Wonder?" in 2005. Masher (L)SD sampled "Sous Quelle E'toile Suis Je ne?" for his tune "Howards' Thinking Clearly", on the CD "That's CRAZY Music!" (2005)

The 2004 Korean TV drama "Sorry, I love You" in Korean 미안하다, 사랑한다 ("Mi'an'ha'da, Sa'rang'han'da" or aka "MiSa") soundtrack largely drew from Polnareff songs like "Qui a tué Grand-Maman ?" and "ça n'arrive qu'aux autres". It was aired on channel KBS 2004/11/09~2004/12/28. The soundtrack was released in two commercial CDs.

Personal life[edit]

On 28 December 2010, Polnareff's girlfriend gave birth to a boy in Los Angeles. On 21 February 2011, Polnareff announced via a Facebook post that a DNA test had revealed that he was not the biological father of the child. A later post indicated that his girlfriend had disappeared with the baby.[3]

Trivia[edit]

  • His first hit La Poupée qui fait non (1966), recorded in London, featured Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones as session players.

In 1994, his song La Poupée qui fait non was covered by the British indie-dance band Saint Etienne (band) on their "Hug My Soul" single.

In 1999, his song Tout, Tout Pour Ma Cherie was covered by Japanese dance-pop group Pizzicato Five on their "Darlin' Of Discothèque" EP.

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Peak
Position
FRA BEL
(Wa)
SWI EUR
1966 Love Me Please Love Me 1 - - -
1967 Le Bal des Laze 3 - - -
1971 Polnareff's 2 - - -
1974 Michel Polnareff 5 - - -
1975 Fame à la mode 4 - - -
1978 Coucou me revoilou 7 - - -
1981 Bulles 1 - - -
1985 Incognito - - - -
1990 Kâmâ Sutrâ 1 - - -

Live albums[edit]

Year Album Peak
Position
FRA BEL
(Wa)
SWI EUR
1972 Polnarévolution (Live) 6 - - -
1982 Show télé 82/Public (Live) - - - -
1996 Live at the Roxy (Live) 1 11 - -
2007 Ze re Tour 2007 (Live) 13 27 69 83

Compilations[edit]

  • 1991: La compilation
    • 1998: La compilation (re-edition of 1991 release)
  • 1997: Les Premières Années
  • 1999: Nos mots d'amour (Nos (maux) mots d'amour)
  • 2003: Passé présent
  • 2004: Passé simple
  • 2006: Les 100 plus belles chansons de Michel Polnareff
  • 2009: Triple Best of (Michel Polnareff)
  • 2011: Le cinéma de Polnareff

Film soundtracks and music for theater[edit]

  • 1969: Erotissimo
  • 1969: Musique de scène de "Rabelais"
  • 1969: L'Indiscret
  • 1970: La pomme de son œil (TV)
  • 1971: Ça n'arrive qu'aux autres
  • 1971: La folie des grandeurs
  • 1974: D'Artagnan l'Intrépide
  • 1976: Lipstick
  • 1984: La Vengeance du serpent à plumes

Singles[edit]

45 rpm (4 titles) (EP)

(first two tracks Side A, third and fourth tracks Side B)

  • 1966: "La Poupée qui fait non" / "Chère Véronique" / "Beatnik" / "Balade pour toi"
  • 1966: "Love me, please love me" / "L'Amour avec toi" / "Ne me marchez pas sur les pieds"
  • 1966: "Sous quelle étoile suis-je né?" / "Time Will Tell" / "L'Oiseau de nuit" / "Histoire de cœur"
  • 1967: "Ta-ta-ta-ta" / "Rosée d'amour n'a pas vu le jour, rosée du jour n'a pas eu d'amour" / "Le Pauv' Guitariste" / "Complainte à Michaël"
  • 1967: "Âme câline" / "Fat Madame" / "Le roi des fourmis" / "Le saule pleureur"
  • 1967: "Mes regrets" / "Miss Blue Jeans" / "Dame dame"
  • 1968: "Le Bal des Laze" / "Le temps a laissé son manteau" / "Encore un mois, encore un an" / "Y a qu'un ch'veu"
  • 1968: "Jour après jour" / "Les grands sentiments humains" / "Pipelette" / "Oh! Louis"
  • 1968: "Pourquoi faut-il se dire adieu?" / "Ring-a-ding" / "J'ai du chagrin Marie" / "L'Affreux Jojo"
45 rpm (2 titles) (Single)

(first track is Side A, second track Side B)

  • 1969: "Tous les bateaux, tous les oiseaux" / "Tout tout pour ma chérie"
  • 1969: "La Michetonneuse" / "Dans la maison vide"
  • 1970: "Un train ce soir" / "Avec Nini"
  • 1970: "Gloria" / "Je suis un homme"
  • 1971: "Qui a tué grand-maman?" / "Nos mots d'amour"
  • 1971: "Allô Georgina" / "Comme Juliette et Roméo"
  • 1972: "Holidays" / "La Mouche"
  • 1972: "On ira tous au paradis" / "Je cherche un job"
  • 1973: "I Love You Because" / "Rosy"
  • 1974: "Tibili" / "La fille qui rêve de moi"
  • 1976: "Fame à la mode" / "Wandering Man"
  • 1977: "Lettre à France" / "Mademoiselle de"
  • 1978: "Une simple mélodie" (with Jaco Pastorius) / "J'ai tant de choses à dire"
  • 1981: "Je t'aime" / "Joue-moi de toi"
  • 1981: "Je t'aime" / "Tam-Tam"
  • 1984: "Viens te faire chahuter" / "Dans la rue"
  • 1984: "Y a que pas pouvoir qu'on peut" / "Dans la rue (remix)"
  • 1984: "Sur un seul mot de toi (remix)" / "Bronzer vert"
  • 1989: "Goodbye Marylou (remix)" / "Goodbye Marylou (remix version longue)"
  • 1989: "Toi et moi" / "Dans la rue"
Singles 1990 onwards
Year Single Charts Certification Album
BEL
Wa

FR
[4]
1989 "Goodbye Marylou" 16
1990 "Toi et moi..." 45
"Kâma-Sûtra" 47
1999 "Je rêve d'un monde" 31 20
2006 "Ophélie flagrant des lits" 28
2012 "Lettre à France" (rerelease) 93
Singles in languages other than French
  • 1966: "No no no no" / "Beatnik" (UK)
  • 1966: "Meine Puppe sagt non" / "Gammler-Ballade (Beatnik)". (Germany)
  • 1966: "Love me, please love me" / "Ich will dich lieben" (Germany)
  • 1966: "Love me, please love me" / "Amart" (Spain)
  • 1966: "Una bambolina che fa no" / "La lezione del capellone" (Italy)
  • 1966: "Love me, please love me" / "Amore con te" (Italy)
  • 1967: "La ragazza ta ta ta" / "L'usignolo" (Italy)
  • 1969: "Sonne, Wind und Meer" / "Komm, schön ist die Welt" (Germany)
  • 1969: "Ame Caline" / "Yippie Yeah" (Italy)
  • 1969: "Un amore fa" / "Cherie cherie" (Italy)

Soundtracks and theater[edit]

Soundtrack of films, except where indicated

  • 1969: Erotissimo (film)
  • 1969: Rabelais (musical theater)
  • 1969: L'Indiscret
  • 1970: La Pomme de son œil (TV series)
  • 1971: Ça n'arrive qu'aux autres
  • 1971: La folie des grandeurs
  • 1974: D'Artagnan l'Intrépide
  • 1976: Lipstick
  • 1984: La Vengeance du serpent à plumes

Publications[edit]

  • 1974: Polnaréflexions in collaboration with Jean-Michel Desjeunes, Editions Dire/Stock2
  • 2004: Polnareff par Polnareff in collaboration with Philippe Manœuvre, Editions Grasset et Fasquelle
  • 2013: Le Polnabook, de Michel Polnareff, Editions Ipanéma

Bibliography[edit]

  • Christian Eudeline, Derrière les lunettes, ed. fayard, 2013 (ISBN 978-2-213-66680-8)
  • Benoît Cachin, Polnaculte : Michel Polnareff vu par ses auteurs et par lui-même, ed. Tournon, 2007 (ISBN 978-2351440360)
  • Christophe Lauga, Polnareffmania, ed. Scali, 2007 (ISBN 2350120848)
  • Fabien Lecœuvre, Polnareff, la véritable histoire d'une légende, ed. City, 2007 (ISBN 2352880459)
  • Philippe Margotin, Polnareff, ed. de la Lagune, 2007 (ISBN 284969049X)
  • Fabien Lecœuvre, Michel Polnareff, ed. Vaderetro, 2004 (ISBN 2847630104)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "L'Affaire Derri". TIME. 1 January 1973. Retrieved 3 August 2009. 
  2. ^ "InfoDisc : Bilan par Artiste (Ventes RŽelles des Singles/Titres & des Albums)". Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 2013-11-01. 
  3. ^ "Polnareff et son bébé: colère, chagrin et incompréhension" (in French). Paris Match. Retrieved 2013-11-01. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]

External links[edit]