Jean-Michel Jarre

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Jean-Michel Jarre
Jarre in 2016
Jarre in 2016
Background information
Birth nameJean-Michel André Jarre
Born (1948-08-24) 24 August 1948 (age 73)
Lyon, France
  • Composer
  • performer
  • record producer
Years active1969–present

Jean-Michel André Jarre[note 1] (French: [ʒɑ̃ miʃɛl ɑ̃dʁe ʒaʁ]; born 24 August 1948) is a French composer, performer and record producer. He is a pioneer in the electronic, ambient and new-age genres, and is known for organising outdoor spectacles featuring his music, accompanied by vast laser displays, large projections and fireworks.

Jarre was raised in Lyon by his mother and grandparents and trained on the piano. From an early age, he was introduced to a variety of art forms, including street performers, jazz musicians and the artist Pierre Soulages. But his musical style was perhaps most heavily influenced by Pierre Schaeffer, a pioneer of musique concrète at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales.

His first mainstream success was the 1976 album Oxygène. Recorded in a makeshift studio at his home, the album sold an estimated 12 million copies. Oxygène was followed in 1978 by Équinoxe, and in 1979, Jarre performed to a record-breaking audience of more than a million people at the Place de la Concorde, a record he has since broken three times. More albums were to follow, but his 1979 concert served as a blueprint for his future performances around the world. Several of his albums have been released to coincide with large-scale outdoor events.

As of 2004, Jarre had sold an estimated 80 million albums and singles. He was the first Western musician officially invited to perform in the People's Republic of China and holds the world record for the largest-ever audience at an outdoor event for his Moscow concert on 6 September 1997, which was attended by 3.5 million people.


Early life, influences, and education[edit]

Jean-Michel Jarre was born in Lyon on 24 August 1948, to Francette Pejot, a French Resistance member and concentration camp survivor, and composer Maurice Jarre.[1][2][3] His grandmother was Jewish.[4] When Jarre was five, his parents separated and his father moved to the United States, leaving him with his mother.[5] He did not see his father again until reaching the age of 18.[2] For the first eight years of his life, Jarre spent six months each year at his maternal grandparents' flat on the Cours de Verdun, in the Perrache district of Lyon. Jarre's grandfather was an oboe player, engineer and inventor, designing an early audio mixer used at Radio Lyon. He also gave Jean-Michel his first tape recorder.[6] From his vantage point high above the pavement, the young Jarre was able to observe street performers at work, an experience he later cited as proving influential on his art.[2][7]

Jarre struggled with classical piano studies, although he later changed teachers and worked on his scales.[8] A more general interest in musical instruments was sparked by his discovery at the Saint-Ouen flea market, where his mother sold antiques, of a Boris Vian trumpet violin. He often accompanied his mother to Le Chat Qui Pêche (The Fishing Cat), a Paris jazz club run by one of her friends from her resistance years, where saxophonists Archie Shepp and John Coltrane, and trumpet players Don Cherry and Chet Baker were regular performers. These early jazz experiences suggested to him that music may be "descriptive, without lyrics".[2][9] He was also influenced by the work of French artist Pierre Soulages, whose exhibition at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris he attended. Soulages' paintings used multiple textured layers, and Jarre realised that "for the first time in music, you could act as a painter with frequencies and sounds."[2] He was also influenced by classical, modernist music; in a 2004 interview for The Guardian, he spoke of the effect that a performance of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring had upon him:

This is where Stravinsky created it in 1913, and it was a huge shock. I also saw the last concert by the great Arabic singer Om Khalsoum. She is the goddess, the Maria Callas of the Orient. Then I heard "Georgia on My Mind" by Ray Charles, and I realised that music can talk to your tummy. I was so impressed by the organic sensuality coming from Ray Charles's music – there was no intellectual process and it was great.[10]

As a young man Jarre earned money by selling his paintings, exhibiting some of his works at the Lyon Gallery – L'Œil écoute, and by playing in a band called Mystère IV. While he studied at the Lycée Michelet, his mother arranged for him to take lessons in harmony, counterpoint and fugue with Jeannine Rueff of the Conservatoire de Paris.[8][9] In 1967 he played guitar in a band called The Dustbins, who appear in the film Des garçons et des filles [fr]. He mixed instruments including the electric guitar and the flute with tape effects and other sounds.[2] More experimentation followed in 1968, when he began to use tape loops, radios and other electronic devices, but joining the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) in 1969,[8][11] then under the direction of Pierre Schaeffer ("father" of musique concrète), proved hugely influential.[12] Jarre was introduced to the Moog modular synthesizer and spent time working at the studio of influential German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen in Cologne.[13][14][15]

In the kitchen of his flat on Rue de la Trémoille, near the Champs-Élysées, Jarre set up a small recording studio. It included his first synthesiser, an EMS VCS 3,[16] and an EMS Synthi AKS, each linked to Revox tape machines. For a 1969 exposition at the Maison de la Culture (Cultural House) in Reims, Jarre wrote the five-minute song "Happiness Is a Sad Song". His first commercial release was La Cage/Erosmachine, a mixture of harmony, tape effects and synthesisers in 1969.[17]


In 1971 Jarre was commissioned by choreographer Norbert Schmucki to perform a ballet called AOR (in Hebrew, "the light"), at the Palais Garnier.[18][19] He also composed music for ballet, theatre, advertisements and television programs,[8] as well as music and lyrics for artists like Patrick Juvet and Christophe.[2] Jarre composed the soundtrack for Les Granges Brûlées[20] and in 1972 wrote music for the International Festival of Magic.[21] That year he also released his first solo album, Deserted Palace,[17] and from 1973 to 1974 wrote music for Françoise Hardy and Gérard Lenorman, and wrote lyrics for Christophe and directed Christophe's Olympia show.[21]

Jarre's 1976 low-budget solo album Oxygène, recorded at his home studio, made him famous internationally. It comprises six numbered synthesiser tracks that make strong use of melody, rather than rhythm or dissonance. A Scully eight-track recorder was used to record instruments like the Eminent 310 (with an Electro-Harmonix Small Stone phaser on its string pads) and the Korg Minipops drum machine. Liberal use of echo was used on the various sound effects generated by the VCS3 synthesiser.[12][22] Jarre's ARP 2600 synthesiser, previously used on his collaborations with Christophe, also featured, as did his EMS VCS 3.[16] In addition, he used other synthesizers and electronic instruments such as the EMS Synthi AKS synthesizer, the RMI Harmonic synthesizer, the Farfisa professional organ, the Eminent 310U, the Mellotron, and the drum machines Minipops-7.[23]

Oxygène initially proved difficult to sell. Jarre was turned down by several record companies, until another of Schaeffer's students, Hélène Dreyfus, persuaded her husband to publish the album on his label, Disques Motors.[2] The first pressing of 50,000 copies was promoted through hi-fi shops, clubs and discos,[22][24] and by April 1977 had sold 70,000 copies in France. When interviewed in Billboard magazine, Dreyfus's director Stanislas Witold said, "In a sense we're putting most of our bets on Jean-Michel Jarre. He is quite exceptional and we're sure that by 1980 he will be recognised worldwide."[25] Oxygène has since sold an estimated 12 million copies, the best-selling French record of all time.[8] It reached number 2 in the UK.[26] It also contains his most recognisable single, "Oxygène IV", which reached number 4 in the UK single charts.[12][14][27][28]

Jarre's follow-up album, Équinoxe, was released in 1978,[29] though its sales were still healthy, it had less of an impact than Oxygène, but the following year Jarre held a large open-air concert on Bastille Day, at the Place de la Concorde.[2][28] The free outdoor event set a world record for the largest number of spectators ever at an open-air concert, drawing more than 1 million spectators.[8][30] Although it was not the first time he had performed in concert (Jarre had already played at the Paris Opera Ballet), the 40 minute-long event, which used projections of light, images and fireworks, served as a blueprint for Jarre's future concerts.[2][8] Its popularity helped create a surge in sales—a further 800,000 records were sold between 14 July and 31 August 1979—and introduced the Frenchman to Francis Rimbert, who worked for Jarre during two decades on a full-time basis.[31][32]


By the time Les Chants Magnétiques was released on 20 May 1981, Oxygène and Équinoxe had achieved global sales of about 6 million units. In its first two months the new album sold a reported 200,000 units in France alone.[33] The album uses sounds from the Fairlight CMI, a new instrument of which Jarre was an early pioneer. Its digital technology allowed him to continue his earlier sonic experimentation in new ways.[34]

The album's release coincided with Jarre's first foreign tour. In 1981, the British Embassy gave Radio Beijing[35] copies of Oxygène and Équinoxe, which became the first pieces of foreign music to be played on Chinese national radio in decades. The Republic invited Jarre to become the first western musician to play there, with Les Concerts en Chine.[36] The performances were scheduled to run from 18 October to 5 November 1981.[33] The first, in Beijing, was initially attended mostly by officials, but before the concert began technicians realised that not enough power was available to supply the stage and auditorium. Chinese officials solved the problem by temporarily cutting power to the surrounding districts.[37] The stadium was almost full when the concert began, but as Beijing's buses stopped running at about 10 o'clock, about half the audience left before it finished.[38] To boost the audience attendance for the second night, Jarre and his production team purchased some of the concert tickets and gave them to children on the streets (Jarre originally wanted the concerts to be free, but the Chinese authorities decided to charge between £0.20 and £0.50 per ticket).[37] The event was notable for its lack of audience involvement; the Chinese were apparently unmoved by both the music and the light show, and applause was muted. At the second venue, Shanghai, Jarre encouraged audience participation by stepping into the crowd, which became much more exuberant than that in Beijing.[2] Recordings of the concerts, which featured one of Jarre's signature electronic instruments, the laser harp, were released as a double-disc LP in 1982.[28][39]

In 1983 Jarre was approached to create background music for a supermarket-themed art show, the Orrimbe show held June 2–30, 1983 at the J.C. Riedel Gallery, Paris.[40] Since all the pieces of artwork in the show were to be auctioned off after the show, Jarre decided his Musique pour Supermarché should consist of a single copy of the LP, to be auctioned off afterward just like the artwork, with the master tapes and plates publicly destroyed. Jarre did allow Radio Luxembourg to broadcast the album, once, in its entirety, and encouraged listeners to tape the broadcast. The auction was held on July 5, 1983, at the Hôtel Drouot auction house in Paris, and raised about 70,000 francs for charity. Jarre explained this was his protest at the "silly industrialisation of music".[13][41] Music for Supermarkets made heavy use of the Fairlight CMI's ability to sample audio. Some parts of the album were reworked and re-used over the next few years (evolving into "Diva", "Blah Blah Café" and sections of the "Fifth Rendez-Vous" on Jarre's next two albums.

In 1984, Jarre released his seventh studio album, Zoolook. Expanding the sample-based approach which had been initiated on Les Chants Magnétiques and continued on Music for Supermarkets, the album was based around multiple treated, filtered and played-back recordings of the human voice. It featured snippets of words and speech from languages across the globe, recorded digitally by Jarre and then played back and edited on the Fairlight CMI.[2] Much of the album's recording took place in New York, drawing on the talents of the city's uptown arts scene and on those of its jazz, funk and soul musicians. King Crimson's experimental guitarist Adrian Belew, and a live rhythm section of Miles Davis bassist Marcus Miller and Luther Vandross/Aretha Franklin drummer Yogi Horton made significant contributions to the recording, with Laurie Anderson providing the vocals for the track "Diva".[42] More aurally challenging than Jarre's previous works, the album was also somewhat less successful, reaching only number 47 in the UK album charts.[28]

I've always been involved in ethnic music, though I thought the way a lot of people have been using ethnic music was a little superficial. Sometimes it works, like the Brian Eno stuff, it worked the first time, but for me what was more interesting was not making a particular statement about recording in Africa or in China, but taking some sounds and having exactly the same attitude as when you were in front of a Moog 55 or a modular system, replacing the oscillators with a bank of actors or people, treating them through the Fairlight or the EMS synth, and establishing an orchestration using only voices.[43]


In 1985, Jarre was invited by the musical director of the Houston Grand Opera to perform a concert celebrating Texas's 150th anniversary on 5 April 1986. Although he was busy with other projects and was at first unimpressed by the proposal, on a later visit to the city, he was immediately impressed by the visual grandeur of the city's skyline and agreed to perform. Also, 1985 marked the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center;[citation needed] and NASA asked Jarre to integrate the anniversary into the concert.[2]

Rendez-Vous was created over a period of about two months and, as with Zoolook, contains elements of his album Musique pour Supermarché.[34] Its three movements represent Houston's development, from a rural economy to its role as a leader in space technology.January 2022 Baroque in style, the album uses a mixture of French horns, trombones and violins; and it features heavy use of the Elka Synthex, notably so on "Second Rendez-Vous", a track Jarre often performs using a laser harp.[34] Jarre worked with several Houston-based astronauts, including Bruce McCandless II and Ronald McNair, an accomplished musician who was to have played the saxophone on "Rendez-Vous VI", recorded in the weightless environment of space. The live performance was curtailed by McNair's death in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on 28 January 1986. Consideration was given to the cancellation of the concert; but McCandless contacted Jarre and urged him to proceed, in memory of the shuttle's crew. McNair's saxophone piece was recorded by French saxophonist Pierre Gossez and retitled "Ron's Piece". At Jarre's giant concerts in Houston and Lyon, the part was performed by McNair's friend, American saxophonist Kirk Whalum:

I remember just before take-off, Ron calling me in Paris saying "Everything's ready, see you in a week's time, watch me on television for the take-off" ... I will really, keep always, the bit of Ron's smile and Ron's face in my heart.[2]

About 2,000 projectors shone images onto buildings and giant screens up to 1,200 feet (370 m) high, transforming the city's skyscrapers into spectacular backdrops for an elaborate display of fireworks and lasers.[citation needed] Rendez-vous Houston entered the Guinness Book of Records for its audience of over 1.5 million, beating his earlier record, set in 1979. The display was so impressive that a nearby freeway was blocked by passing vehicles, forcing the authorities to close it for the duration of the concert.[44][45] Several months later he performed to an audience of about a million at his home city of Lyon,[46] in celebration of a visit by Pope John Paul II. Watching from Lyon Cathedral, the Pope began the concert with a good-night blessing, a recording of which appears on Cities in Concert – Houston/Lyon.[2]

Destination Docklands, October 1988

In 1988 Jarre released Revolutions. The album spans several genres, including symphonic industrial, Arabian inspired, light guitar pop and ethnic electro jazz. A two-hour concert called Destination Docklands was planned for September 1988, to be held at the Royal Victoria Dock in east London.[47] Close to the heart of London, the location was chosen in part for its desolate environment, but also because Jarre thought the architecture was ideally suited for his music. Early in 1988 Jarre met with local officials and members of the community,[48] but Newham Borough Council expressed their fears about the event's safety and delayed their decision on whether to allow the concert to proceed until 12 September[47] eventually rejecting the licence application. The local fire service were also concerned about access in the event of a fire. Site work continued as Jarre's team searched for alternative locations in which to stage the concert, but following improvements to both on and off-site safety Jarre eventually won conditional approval on 28 September to stage two separate performances, on 8 and 9 October.[48][49]

The floating stage on which Jarre and his musicians performed was built on top of four large barges. Large purpose-built display screens were built, and one of the buildings to be used as a backdrop was painted white. One large mirror ball being transported to the event fell onto the roadside, causing a degree of confusion as some people mistook it for a fallen satellite. World War II searchlights were installed, to illuminate the sky and surrounding architecture.[48] Along with thousands in the surrounding streets and parks, 200,000 people watched Jarre and guests such as guitarist Hank Marvin perform in less than ideal conditions. Inclement weather had threatened to break the stage from its moorings, putting paid to the original plan to float the stage across the Royal Victoria Dock. Wind speeds were so high that television cameras were blown over. On the second evening the audience, which included Diana, Princess of Wales,[46] was soaked by rain and wind.[48]


In 1990 Jarre released En Attendant Cousteau (Waiting for Cousteau), inspired by the French oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau.[46] On Bastille Day 1990 he performed a concert at La Défense in Paris, attended by a record-breaking audience of about two million people, again beating his earlier world record.[50] He later promoted a concert near the Pyramids of Teotihuacan in Mexico, to be held during the solar eclipse of 11 July 1991. However, with only weeks to go, important equipment had not arrived and the sinking in the Atlantic Ocean of a cargo ship containing the purpose-built pyramidal stage and other technical and financial problems made staging the concert impossible. Jarre's disappointment was such that he "could not cope with Mexican food for two years".[2]

About two years later he released Chronologie, an album influenced by the techno-music scene. From a technical standpoint, the album is a reversion to a concept seen in Jarre's Oxygène/Équinoxe period, where a grandiose overture precedes more rhythmic sections.[51] The album features Jarre's traditional collection of instruments like the ARP 2600 and Minimoog, as well as newer synthesisers such as the Roland JD-800 and the Kurzweil K2000.[52]

In the state of mind I did Chronologie, it's quite close to what I did for Oxygène, using a lot of the old synthesizers of the '70s, like the Moog synthesizer — which I consider to be the Stradivarius of electronic music — mixed with the digital sound and the beat of the dance scene of the '90s. In a sense, Chronologie is a kind of mixture between the sounds of the '70s and the sounds of the '90s.[51]

1993 Michel Jarre concert at Heysel Stadium, Brussels.

Jarre was invited to the inaugural celebrations of the Palace of the Lost City, a hotel located within the Sun City in South Africa.[53] Three concerts were held on 1, 2 and 3 December 1992, in which more than 45,000 people attended.[54]

Chronologie was performed at a series of 16 performances across Europe called Europe in Concert. These were on a smaller scale than his previous concerts, featuring a miniature skyline, laser imaging and fireworks. Locations included Lausanne, Mont St Michel, London, Manchester, Barcelona, Seville and the Versailles Palace near Paris.[55] A concert was also held in Hong Kong in March 1994, to mark the opening of the city's new stadium.[56] Jarre performed many of his most well-known hits at the Concert for Tolerance on Bastille Day in 1995, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. The Eiffel Tower was specially lit for the occasion, prompting the installation of a more permanent display.[57] The following December, he created the website "A Space for Tolerance", which featured music from En Attendant Cousteau, played while the user browsed a variety of "visual worlds".[58]

In 1997 Jarre returned to the analogue synthesisers of the 1970s with Oxygène 7–13,[59] dedicated to his mentor at the GRM, Pierre Schaeffer, who had died two years before.[60] Eschewing digital techniques developed in the 1980s, in an interview for The Daily Telegraph he said:

The excitement of being able to work on sounds in a tactile, manual, almost sensual way is what drew me to electronic music in the first place ... The lack of limitations is very dangerous. It is like the difference for a painter of getting four tubes with four main colours or being in front of a computer with two million colours. You have to scan the two million colours and when you arrive to the last one you have obviously forgotten the first one. In the Eighties we became archivists and everything became rather cold as a result.[59]

In September that year he set his fourth record for the largest-ever outdoor-concert audience with a performance at the Moscow State University, celebrating the 850th anniversary of Moscow. The event was viewed by an audience of about 3.5 million.[61][62] Another large-scale concert followed on 31 December 1999, in the Egyptian desert near Giza. The Twelve Dreams of the Sun celebrated the new millennium and offered a preview of his next album, Métamorphoses. The show featured performances from more than 1,000 local artists and musicians, and was based on ancient Egyptian mythology about the journey of the sun and its effect upon humanity.[63]


Jarre in 1999-2000

Jarre released his first vocal album, Métamorphoses, in 2000.[36] It was mixed on an early version of Pro Tools, a digital audio workstation designed to record, edit and play back digital audio.[11] Métamorphoses marked a departure from Jarre's earlier work. Sound effects used include radio interference from mobile phones, and Macintalk, a Macintosh program used to generate lyrics on the track "Love, Love, Love". Contributors included Laurie Anderson, who had also appeared on Zoolook, Natacha Atlas and Sharon Corr.[21]

Looking back, I enjoyed the album, [Oxygène 7–13] but after I finished it I knew that I had to make a fresh start. I had to go somewhere completely different. Metamorphoses is like a blank page for me, a new beginning.[11]

It was followed in 2001 by Interior Music, created for use by the audio-visual company Bang & Olufsen, and which did not receive a commercial release. The same year he composed, with Francis Rimbert arrangements, the music for the short-lived French channel Match TV, and contributed music to the soundtrack of the film Who wants to be a Star.[citation needed] On 7 September 2002, Jarre held a very wet and muddy concert at the Gammel Vrå Enge [da] near the city of Aalborg in Denmark, with 40,000 spectators (including 5,000 VIPs). Danish band Safri Duo featured on the track "Aero", which in fact was Bourges 2 from the performance earlier that year, and Rendez-Vous 4. The concert was broadcast live on various TV stations around the world and a shortened one-hour version was made available for rebroadcast.[64][65]

By no fault of Jarre, due to 22 millimeters of rain and lack of proper preparation for and execution of the event, it took several hours for all people to be able to leave the area, and many cars were stuck until the next day. The problems subsequently became a big issue in Danish media, since, had there been an accident, it would be extremely difficult for help to get to the location. Two years previously, nine people were killed at Roskilde Festival, which had brought focus on security at large concerts. Preparations for AERO were later proven to have been lacking, and the police investigation concluded, in part, that permission for the concert should not have been granted.[66][67] Reactions from spectators were mixed, some claiming it was unsafe, and others saying it was a case of overreacting.[65]

In 2002 he released Sessions 2000, a set of experimental synth-jazz pieces distinct from his previous work. Sessions was well received by Billboard Magazine, which said "He's created a deeply nuanced soundscape that invites repeated listening."[68] A concert in September 2002 at a wind farm near Aalborg in Denmark proved problematic when 22mm of rain fell on the venue, causing long delays for spectators.[64][69] It also marked a change in direction in Jarre's live concerts; from Rendez-vous Houston onwards he had been accompanied by a full complement of live musicians, but at Aalborg he was accompanied only by Francis Rimbert, and having guests like the Klarup Girls Choir, Safri Duo and the Aalborg Symphonic Orchestra.[64]

In 2003 he released Geometry of Love, commissioned by Jean-Roch as a soundtrack for his 'V.I.P. Room' nightclub in France. It contains a mix of 'electro-chill' music, with touches of his more traditional style.[70] In October 2004 he returned to China to open its "Year of France" cultural exchange. Jarre gave two performances, the first at the Meridian Gate of the Forbidden City, and the second in Tiananmen Square. More than 15,000 spectators watched the concert at the Meridian Gate, and each concert was transmitted nationwide on live television. Jarre collaborated with musician Chen Lin. Accompanying his traditional musical repertoire, 600 projectors shone coloured light and images across various screens and objects.[71]

In September 2004, Jarre released AERO, both a DVD and a CD in one package. Purportedly the world's first album released for 5.1 systems, with it being fully "constructed" in 5.1 surround sound, it contains re-recorded versions of some of his most famous tracks, including tracks from Oxygène and Équinoxe. Accompanying the audio, the DVD features a visual image of Anne Parillaud's eyes, recorded in real time as she listened to the album.[10][72] Jarre used the minimalist imagery to reinforce the audio content of the DVD.[73] The CD was mixed in super-stereo.

In his role of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Jarre performed a concert named Water for Life in Morocco, on 16 December 2006, to celebrate the United Nations Year of Desertification in the world.[74] The performance was in front of the Erg Chebbi Dunes of Merzouga, in the Sahara. A free event, it was attended by about 25,000 people. Images of water and the environment were projected onto nine vertical screens, held in place by sand which was watered to keep it hard. Several permanent drinking fountains were built on the site, along with a permanent electricity installation. Jarre was accompanied by over 60 Moroccan artists.[75]

Jarre released Téo & Téa on 26 March 2007.[76] He described the two computer-generated characters in the video clip of the title track as being "like twins", one female, one male. The album is supposed to describe the different stages of a loving relationship, and explores the idea that the length of such relationships is unpredictable. Its release demonstrated a move away from virtual instruments and computers that Jarre had been using up to that point; he instead chose to use a simplified range of devices, including several new prototype instruments. The album's cover was inspired by the David Lynch film Wild at Heart.[72]

Jarre playing a laser harp in 2009

In August 2007 Jarre signed for EMI France. He released an anniversary package containing a special live recording of his classic work, Oxygène, in 3D DVD, live CD and normal 2D DVD formats in November 2007, named Oxygène: New Master Recording. A first for Jarre, the album was recorded live, without tape or hard disk playback, with help from Francis Rimbert, Claude Samard and Dominique Perrier. The album also contains three extra tracks ("Variation Part 1", "2" and "3", respectively) not found on either the original or remake, which form links between the main movements. Jarre plans to integrate the original analog synthesizers from Oxygène into his next album, and is building a new private recording studio on the outskirts of Paris.[12] In the same year Disques Dreyfus released The Complete Oxygène, containing the original versions of Oxygène and Oxygène 7–13, and remixes of tracks from Oxygène 7–13.[77]

… there are several Eminent String Machines that make up one of the main Oxygene string sounds. Having four of us meant I had to multiply the number of instruments, and finding the equipment was quite a headache, especially as I tried, as much as I could, to avoid using instruments produced after Oxygène. There are one or two exceptions but 95 percent of the instruments are of that time. For me it was really important for the radicalism of the process.[12]

Jarre performed 10 concerts (Oxygène Live) in Paris, from 12 to 26 December 2007, held in the Théâtre Marigny, a small 1000-seat theatre in the Champs-Élysées. Later in 2008 Jarre performed several concerts to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Oxygène, in theaters in Europe. Following one such performance at the Royal Albert Hall Jarre met Brian May, who proposed he create a concert in Tenerife for the International Year of Astronomy,[78] but a lack of sponsorship meant that the concert did not take place.[79] In 2009 he was selected as the artistic director of the World Sky Race,[80] and also accepted a role as Goodwill Ambassador for the International Year of Astronomy.[81] In 2009 he started an indoor tour in arenas throughout Europe.[82]


Michel Jarre's concert in Santiago de Compostela (Galicia, Spain) on July 31, 2010.

On 1 March 2010, Jean-Michel Jarre started the second leg of his 2009–10 Indoors tour; on 10 June, he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Mojo magazine.[83] On 30 May 2011, Essentials & Rarities, a double-CD set, was released. This was the last Jarre work to be released by Disques Dreyfus. The Essentials disc is a compilation of some of his most famous works. The Rarities disc includes pieces recorded in the years prior to the release of Oxygène. After this release, Jarre recovered sole intellectual property rights over his work, which had previously been owned by Francis Dreyfus Music. On 1 July 2011, Jarre performed a large-scale concert in Monaco to celebrate the marriage of Prince Albert and his bride Charlene. During the last quarter of 2011 he concluded a tour schedule that had lasted for almost 3 years. He used the same format for a later concert at Carthage during the city's 2013 musical festival.

In June 2013, Jarre was elected as president of the Confédération Internationale des Sociétés d´Auteurs et Compositeurs (CISAC).[84] In Spring 2015, Jarre released the first music from a new studio album, released in October 2015, following around four years of work.[85] The album, Electronica 1: The Time Machine (working title: E-Project),[86] comprises a number of collaborations with other artists. The first of these to be released was the collaboration with Gesaffelstein entitled Conquistador, followed by Glory, with M83. The track was also featured as part of the soundtrack of a short film entitled EMIC.[87]

Other collaborations on the album include Zero Gravity tracks with; Armin van Buuren for "Stardust",[88] John Carpenter for "A Question of Blood",[89] Little Boots for If..![90] and Pete Townshend for Travelator, Pt. 2. The album became Jarre's first album in over 25 years to make the UK Top 10 at No. 8. In December 2016, the album was nominated for the Grammys 2017 Awards in the "Best Dance/Electronic Album" category.[91] In June 2015, in collaboration with Jean-Michel Jarre, the transmedia project Soundhunters was released on the platform of the Franco-German channel ARTE.[92] The transmedia conceptualized by the Blies brothers (Stéphane Hueber-Blies and Nicolas Blies), François Le Gall and Marion Guth of the Luxembourg production company a_BAHN, is openly inspired by the album Zoolook to which it pays tribute.[93]

Jean-Michel at a Cannes festival 2016
Jean-Michel Jarre performing Electronica tour in Bratislava

On 5 October 2016, Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 announced that Jarre would be a member of its advisory panel.[94] The transmedia is composed of a web documentary using Zoolook's creative process involving 4 international artists (Simonne Jones, Mikael Seifu, Daedelus and Luke Vibert);[95] a 52' documentary film directed by Beryl Koltz broadcast in September 2015 on ARTE (with the participation of Chassol, Matthew Herbert, Blixa Bargeld, Jean-Michel Jarre, Matmos, Kiz, Joseph Bertolozzi); and finally a participatory tribute music album whose tracks were chosen by Jean-Michel Jarre, entitled Zoolook Revisited.[96][97] Soundhunters won the Fipa d'Or 2015 in Biarritz.[98] Soundhunters was also presented in conference at SXSW[99] and Convergence NYFF 2016.[100] In 2016, Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise was released with 15 more collaborators, including Pet Shop Boys, Hans Zimmer, Yello and Gary Numan. One track (8 "Exit") includes speech by Edward Snowden.[101] Electronica 2 has been nominated in the Album de musiques électroniques ou dance category for the Grammy 2017 in USA & Victoires de la Musique 2017 awards in France.[102]

On 11 April 2016, it was revealed that Jarre worked in collaboration with British virtual band Gorillaz on their fifth studio album Humanz.[103][104][105] He also composed during 2016 the soundtrack for the French news network France Info.[106][107] This soundtrack, in an orchestrated arrangement, was released as Radiophonie Vol. 9 on 13 January 2017.[108] On 30 September 2016, Jarre himself announced on Facebook a new album, called Oxygène 3, released on 2 December 2016, the 40th anniversary of Oxygène.

In 2017, he performed a concert near the fortress of Masada, for the purpose of saving the Dead Sea.[109] He also performed a special concert for the opening of the Año Jubilar (Jubilee year) at the Monasterio de Santo Toribio de Liébana, in Spain.[110] Both concerts were heavily based in the Electronica Tour concept. During May 2017, Jarre toured in Canada and USA for the first time in his career,[111] and in July 2017 another leg of the tour was held in Europe.

In March 2018, Jarre performed in South America for the first time as part of his Electronica Tour in Buenos Aires[112] and Santiago de Chile.[113] These concerts were originally scheduled for November 2017, but problems with the production company caused the rescheduling.[114] The 2018 leg of the tour continued in Canada and the United States during April, including the presentation of the Electronica show with a reduced track list in the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, ending with a one-off concert at Riyadh to celebrate the 88th Saudi National Day (23 September). This concert was called "The Green Concert", and involved laser projections on the skyscrapers of the financial center of Riyadh.[115] In September 2018, a studio compilation album entitled Planet Jarre – 50 Years of Music, consisting of forty-one songs in "four quite different styles of composition", was released.[116] Jarre released his new studio album Equinoxe Infinity in November 2018.

On 26 November 2018, Jarre and Scott Kirkland of The Crystal Method announced that they would be collaborating on a track on Jarre's next Electronica album.[117] In January 2019, HSBC revealed their new musical identity, composed by Jarre.[118] On 3 October 2019, French editor Robert Laffont published Melancolique Rodeo, Jarre's autobiography. Jarre started a promotional tour for his book. On 7 November 2019, Jarre announced the release of an application for the iOS operating system named EōN. This application contains morphing graphics created by an algorithm developed by Alexis André of Sony Computer Science Laboratories, and music generated from 7 hours of recorded material by Jarre.[119] This music is always different on every device. The AI algorithm which composes on the fly based on the rules set by Jarre was developed by BLEASS.[120] A limited deluxe box set was later released with excerpts from the application and a book with snapshots.[121]


On 31 December 2020, Jarre held a virtual New Year's Eve concert online.[122] He performed from a studio in Paris, but it appeared virtually from a Notre Dame setting. The show has had over 75 million viewers as of 5 January 2021.[123] The show was done in support of his new album "Welcome to the other side," which features 12 tracks from his previously released music.[124] The recording of the concert was released on CD, LP and Blu-ray in September, 2021.[125]

On 21 June 2021, Jarre was awarded Commander to the Legion of Honour by French president Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée presidential palace in Paris. After the ceremony he performed at the same venue as part of the Fête de la Musique.[126] In March 2022 Jarre presented a live project, Oxymore, at Radio France's Hyper Weekend Festival located at Paris.[127]

Personal life[edit]

Jarre was married to Flore Guillard from 1975 until 1977.[128] He met his second wife, actress Charlotte Rampling, at a dinner party in St Tropez in 1976.[129] The two married, and Jarre gaining custody of his daughter Émilie Charlotte,[129] and Rampling did the same with her son Barnaby, also Jarre and Rampling had David as a son.[130] Jarre and Rampling separated in 1996[131][132] and divorced in 2002.[133] He had a brief relationship with Isabelle Adjani,[134] and married French actress Anne Parillaud in May 2005.[135] In November 2010 the couple announced their divorce.[136] Jarre has a half-sister, Stéphanie Jarre, from Maurice Jarre's other marriages.[27] His stepbrother, Kevin Jarre, died in 2011.[137] Although Maurice and Jean-Michel remained estranged, following Maurice's death in 2009, Jarre paid tribute to his legacy.[138]

Jarre said about his father: "My father and I never really achieved a real relationship. We probably saw each other 20 or 25 times in our lifetime. When you are able, at my age, to count the times you have seen your father, it says something... I think it's better to have conflict, or, if you have a parent who dies, you grieve, but the feeling of absence is very difficult to fill, and it took me a while to absorb that.[5]

Large concerts[edit]

Date Audience Place Event Note
14 July 1979 1 million France Place de la Concorde celebrating Bastille Day 1st entry in the Guinness Book of Records for largest outdoor concert crowd.[30][2]
5 April 1986 1.5 million United States Houston celebration of the 150th anniversary of Texas and 25th anniversary of NASA 2nd entry in the Guinness Book of Records.[2][139]
5 October 1986 0.8 million France Lyon To celebrate Pope John Paul II's visit to Jarre's hometown of Lyon. [2]
8, 9 October 1988 0.2 million United Kingdom London Large outdoor concert titled "Destination Docklands" performed in London's docklands. Noted for its planning difficulties and poor weather.[2]
14 July 1990 2.5 million France Paris la Defénse celebration of the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution 1789–1989 3rd entry in the Guinness Book of Records.[2][50][140]
14 July 1995 1.25 million France Eiffel Tower UNESCO's 50th birthday and UNESCO'S proclaimed year of tolerance[141] Originally intended to take place at Les Invalides, but changed at short notice. Was originally announced as the first of a series of Concerts For Tolerance. Only the Paris concert took place.[142]
6 September 1997 3.5 million Russia Moscow Jarre was invited for a concert celebrating the 850th birthday of Moscow 4th entry in the Guinness Book of Records (equal with Rod Stewart's 1994 Copacabana concert)[62]
14 July 1998 0.8 million France Eiffel Tower Bastille Day "Electronic Night", featuring Jarre performing with numerous dance artists, playing heavily remixed versions of Jarre's music[143]
31 December 1999 0.1 million Egypt Giza Plateau New Millennium "The Twelve Dreams of the Sun", celebrating the 7th millennium of Egypt, and part of the worldwide celebrations for the year 2000.[144]


An asteroid, 4422 Jarre, has been named in his honour.[172] He is an honorary citizen of Gdansk.[173]


As of 2004, Jarre had sold an estimated 80 million albums and singles.[174]

Studio albums[edit]


Jarre composed for movies and also participated in documentaries.[175]

  • 1979 – The Hamburg Syndrome
  • 1981 – GallipoliOxygene
  • 1984 – Le voyage d'Orphée (artistic collaborator)
  • 1990 – "Rendez Vous 2" were used in the background and also as the instrumental theme song of the Hindi movie Agneepath, where Jarre was appropriately credited
  • 1986 – "Arpegiator" used uncredited in 9½ Weeks, and not included on the soundtrack album
  • 1997 – Jean-Michel Jarre: Oxygene in Moscow (himself)
  • 2002 – Jean-Michel Jarre: Aero (himself)
  • 2012 – Musique(s) électronique(s) : documentary of Jérémie Carboni (Oxygene piece and himself as composer)

See also[edit]

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Jean-Michel" is a single name, rather than two separate ones, although in certain cases it is written without the hypen.



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External links[edit]