Ferdinand Richard

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Ferdinand Richard
Birth name Hervé Richard
Born (1950-06-25) 25 June 1950 (age 66)
Meknes, Morocco
Genres Avant-rock
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments Bass guitar, vocals, guitar
Years active 1973–1999
Labels Celluloid, RecRec
Associated acts Etron Fou Leloublan, Gestalt et Jive, Les 4 Guitaristes de l'Apocalypso-Bar, Ferdinand et les Philosophes, Fred Frith

Hervé Richard (born 25 June 1950[1]), better known as Ferdinand Richard, is a French avant-rock bass guitarist and composer.

Richard was a founding member of the French avant-rock group Etron Fou Leloublan in 1973, and remained with them until they broke up in 1986. He was also a member of Alfred Harth's group Gestalt et Jive in the mid-1980s, and collaborated with Fred Frith in 1989 to record Dropera (1991). Richard also formed his own group, Ferdinand et les Philosophes in 1990, and recorded two solo albums, En Forme!! (1981) and En Avant (1983).


Hervé Richard was born in 1950 in Meknes in Morocco, but spent his childhood between 1951 and 1964 in Saint-Malo in north-western France. From 1969 to 1973 he studied Medieval Literature and Law at Grenoble in south-eastern France, then attended a bass course at the Conservatoire Régional de Musique de Grenoble.[1][2] In 1973 Richard abandoned his studies, adopted the pseudonym "Ferdinand", and joined a local rock group called Etron Fou Leloublan, playing bass guitar, singing and composing.[1][2]

Etron Fou Leloublan, French for (roughly) "Crazy Shit, the White Wolf"[3][4] or "Mad Shit, the White Wolf"[1][5] were a "nonconformist"[1][2] avant-rock group that produced a blend of punk rock, jazz, French music hall, comedy satire and "avant-garde mayhem".[4] Their music was a "viable [...] alternative to both French rock'n'roll and French free jazz", which had stagnated at the time.[6] Richard played his bass guitar in ways that went beyond its traditional "metronomic role" – he used "double stops, chords, harmonics and onomatopoeic sound effects" to add melody to the group's songs.[7] He also tuned his instrument "up minor third" to match his voice.[7] Richard remained with Etron Fou Leloublan until they broke up 13 years later, during which time they recorded six albums and performed at concerts in Europe and North America.[4]

While still with Etron Fou Leloublan, Richard also released two solo albums, En Forme!! and En Avant in 1981 and 1983 respectively.[2] En Avant, subtitled Huit Chansons en Huit Langues (Eight Songs in Eight Languages), is scored by Richard for two bass guitars and a cello (played by Tom Cora), and consists of eight songs sung in English, Vietnamese, Arabic, Polish, Dioula, Spanish, French and German.[2][8][9] On En Avant Richard explored his interest in language and culture, and wrote the lyrics for, and sang seven of the eight songs (the German song was composed and sung by Urs Engeler).[8][10]

Near the end of Etron Fou Leloublan, Richard joined Alfred Harth's multinational avant-rock group Gestalt et Jive in 1984.[11] They performed regularly in Europe and North America for four years, during which time they made two albums, developed their "instant composition" technique,[12] and gave their farewell concert at the 6th Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville in Victoriaville, Quebec in Canada in October 1988.[13] In 1984 Richard also formed a duo, Bruniferd, with saxophonist Bruno Meillier from Etron Fou Leloublan that was dedicated to "precise and condensed musical poetry".[12] Bruniferd made three albums and toured Europe and Japan.[2]

In May 1986 Richard founded the Movement International des Musiques Innovatrices (MIMI), a spring festival that takes place each year in the south of France "dedicated to showcasing new and unknown musique actuelle acts from [...] around the world.[7] MIMI is seen as a "spring companion" to the annual Victoriaville festival in Canada, and has featured such acts as After Dinner from Japan and André Duchesne's Les 4 Guitaristes de l'Apocalypso-Bar from Quebec.[8] In 1989 Richard formed his own band, Ferdinand et les Philosophes, a trio of Richard, guitarist Alain Rocher and drummer Dominique Lentin.[7] Les Philosophes performed at the 9th Victoriaville festival in October 1991,[14] and went on to record two albums. Richard also collaborated with English experimental guitarist Fred Frith from the English avant-rock group Henry Cow in 1989, as Fred & Ferd, to record Dropera (1991), a "twisted rock opera".[15]

Selected discography[edit]

Bands and collaborations[edit]

Etron Fou Leloublan
  • Batelages (1977, LP, Gratte-Ciel, France)
  • Les Trois Fous Perdégagnent (Au Pays Des...) (1978, LP, Tapioca, France)
  • En Public aux Etats-Unis d'Amérique (1979, LP, Celluloid Records, France)
  • Les Poumons Gonflés (1982, LP, Turbo, France)
  • Les Sillons de la Terre (1984, LP, Le Chant du Monde, France)
  • Face Aux Éléments Déchaînés (1985, LP, RecRec Music, Switzerland)
  • 43 Songs (1991, 3xCD box set, Baillemont) – compilation
  • À Prague (live) (2010, CD, Gazul)
Gestalt et Jive
  • Nouvelle Cuisine (1985, LP, Moers Music, Germany)
  • Gestalt et Jive Trio (1986, 2xLP, Creative Works Records, Germany)
  • Bruniferd (1986, LP, RecRec Music, Switzerland)
  • Un Putch Kitch (1991, CD, SMI, France)
  • Pas Sages, Secrets (1997, CD, ST, France)
Les 4 Guitaristes de l'Apocalypso-Bar
Fred & Ferd (Fred Frith and Ferdinand Richard)
  • Dropera (1991, LP, RecRec Music, Switzerland)
Ferdinand et les Philosophes
  • ... Enclume (1991, LP, RecRec Music, Switzerland)
  • Ensableur de Portugaises (1994, CD, RecRec Music, Switzerland


  • En Forme!! (1981, LP, Celluloid Records, France)
  • En Avant (1983, LP, RecRec Music, Switzerland)

See also[edit]


  • Jones, Andrew (1995). "Ferdinand Richard". In Jones, Andrew. Plunderphonics, 'pataphysics & pop mechanics: an introduction to musique actuelle. SAF Publishing Ltd. pp. 41–49. ISBN 0-946719-15-2. 
  1. ^ a b c d e Jones 1995, p.43.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Ferdinand Richard". Music Club: Mensile di Musica e concerti live (in Italian). Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  3. ^ Trafton, Fred. "Etron Fou Leloublan". New Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  4. ^ a b c "Etron Fou Leloublan, Batelages". Cult Cargo. Archived from the original on 2007-09-02. Retrieved 2007-10-22. 
  5. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Etron Fou Leloublan". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  6. ^ Jones 1995, p.44.
  7. ^ a b c d Jones 1995, p.42.
  8. ^ a b c Jones 1995, p.47.
  9. ^ Warburton, Dan. "Orkhêstra Releases". Paris Transatlantic Magazine. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  10. ^ Ramond, Michel; Roussel, Patrice; Vuilleumier, Stephane. "Discography of Tom Cora". New York Downtown Scene and Other Miscellaneous Discographies. Retrieved 2016-05-29. 
  11. ^ Jones 1995, p.45.
  12. ^ a b Jones 1995, p.46.
  13. ^ "6th Festival international de musique actuelle de Victoriaville". International Festival Musique Actuelle Victoriaville. Retrieved 2012-03-09. 
  14. ^ "9th Festival international de musique actuelle de Victoriaville". International Festival Musique Actuelle Victoriaville. Retrieved 2012-03-09. 
  15. ^ Dropera liner notes.

External links[edit]