Michel Sardou

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Michel Sardou
Michel Sardou performing in Bercy in 1998
Background information
Born (1947-01-26) 26 January 1947 (age 68)
Paris, France
Genres French popular music
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter
Years active 1965–present
Labels Barclay Records, Tréma, Universal Music Group
Website www.michelsardou.net

Michel Sardou (born 26 January 1947) is a French singer, songwriter and occasional actor.

He was born in Paris, the son of Fernand Sardou and Jackie Caron (Jackie Sardou). He is the grandson of the dramatist Victorien Sardou,[1] as well as father of the French novelist Romain Sardou and the actor Davy Sardou.

He is known not only for his love songs (La Maladie d'Amour, Je vais t'aimer), but also for songs dealing with various social and political issues, such as the rights of women in Islamic countries (Musulmanes), clerical celibacy (Le Curé), colonialism (Le Temps des colonies, Ils ont le pétrole mais c'est tout) or the death penalty (Je suis pour). Another sometimes controversial theme found in some of his songs (Les Ricains and Monsieur le Président de France for example) is his respect and support for the culture and foreign policies of the United States of America. He has been accused of being a racist due to his 1976 song Le Temps des colonies, where he sang positively about colonialism and slavery, but Sardou has always claimed the song was sarcastic.[2] He has focused his full attention on his homeland, ignoring the prospect of an international audience, although his 1981 single Les Lacs du Connemara did manage to become a big international hit (especially in Netherlands). A number of his hit songs were written in collaboration with Jacques Revaux and Pierre Delanoë, a few others (most notably En Chantant) with Italian singer Toto Cutugno.

Even in the 21st century, Michel Sardou remains quite popular in France, selling out 18 consecutive dates at Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy in 2001, while his 2004 album Du plaisir went straight to the number 1 spot on the French album charts.

With a recording career of fifty years, Michel Sardou has published 25 studio albums, 18 live albums, has recorded more than 340 songs, essentially in French but also in Spanish, Italian or even English and has sold nearly 90 million records.[3] Currently he is considered such as one of the most popular artists in the Francophone world and one of the most efficient, both in sales and in his shows.



He is the heir to a long family tradition of spectacle. Indeed, his paternal grandparents were comic actors in Marseille and his grand mother was a dancer. When he was a child, he spent the most of his time in cabarets or on tour with his parents.

His school situation was not brilliant and he carried out a life behind the scene and in theaters, so he decided to stop his studies. In 1964, at the age of 17, he planned to run away to Brazil in order to open a striptease club. His father caught him at the Airport. Then Michel announced to him his desire to work and to leave school. While he was a waiter in his father's cabaret, he was earning his spurs on stage, he met Michel Fugain and had an audition for Eddie Barclay.


The early stages (1965–1970)[edit]

In 1965, Michel began to sing with Le Madras, co-written with Michel Fugain and Patrice Laffont. Thanks to this song, he could be on television for the first time, but then he was completely forgotten.

In 1967, his career was really launched, thanks to a censorship:[4] while France left NATO's military command and the Vietnam War caused an anti-American sentiment in France, Michel Sardou launched Les Ricains (The Yankees), a song which insists on the duty of gratitude towards the United States of America. Charles de Gaulle didn't like this song and he advised against broadcasting it on the air. This conferred a new notoriety to the singer. The song allowed to lay the foundations for his future artistic style. However from 1967 to 1970, he had difficulties being a big hit.

In view of the mitigated success of his singles, in 1969, Eddie Barclay decided to terminate his contract, estimating that Michel was not cut out to be a singer. So, he launched the record label Tréma (which significates Talar Revaux Éditions Musicales Associées), which would produce his records, with his friends Jacques Revaux (who will become his most loyal composer) and Régis Talar, a French record producer.

Success and controversies (1970–1980)[edit]

He really met a true success in 1970, when he published his first studio album, J'habite en France. Three songs extracted from this opus will become hits : J'habite en France (I live in France), Et mourir de plaisir (To die of pleasure) but mainly Les Bals populaires (Popular Balls),[4] which reaches the top of the French hit parade.

From this album, the hits will be uninterrupted throughout the 1970s. The songs Le Rire du sergent (The Sergeant's Laugh) (1971), Le Surveillant général (The Superintendent) (1972) will obtain the public favors. But the consecration came in 1973 with the album La Maladie d'amour. The song named after the opus La Maladie d'amour (The Love Disease), Les Vieux mariés (adapted in English under the name It's not too late to start again) and Les Villes de solitude (Cities of loneliness) will become eventually great successes. However, this last song provocated a polemic since Sardou gets into the skin of a man who, tired of his monotonous daily routine, he expresses his brutal fantasies (of robbing a bank, and the desire of raping women), but never acts them. The feminist movements protest and charge Sardou of calling for rape.

The controversies reach their paroxysm in 1976, with the album La Vieille (The Old Woman). The first extract, Le France (SS France), published on November 1975, is a message of indignation addressed to the President of France Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who has just sold the big and famous boat SS France. The controversial song was greeted by the Communists while Sardou was seen, because of several other songs, as an archetypal reactionary singer. Even after the album was a real triumph (more than 1 million copies sold), other extracts, like J'accuse (I charge men of...) or Le Temps des colonies (Colonies Times) are about a singer who defends old conservative values. He was even blamed for a racist and colonialist apologia, but he always has evocated the second degree of the song. The song Je suis pour... (I am in favor of ...) gets Sardou into the skin of a man whose son has been killed and because of that is in favor of the death penalty. Many other political positions expressed by him cost the singer regular disruptions of his tours and the creation of detractors committees in 1977.[5]

The next year, in 1977, Sardou seems to be calmed with political commitments. His new album, La Java de Broadway, contains famous successes , such as La Java de Broadway (Broadway's Java), Dix ans plus tôt (Ten years earlier) and a recovery of the Claude François hit Comme d'habitude (known in English under the name My way). The album won a triumph, exactly like the next Je vole (1978), from what is extracted one of his biggest hits, En chantant (Singing), written together with the Italian singer Toto Cutugno.

At the end of the 1970s, Michel Sardou is one of the biggest stars in France with Johnny Hallyday, Sylvie Vartan and Serge Lama.

A legend in motion (1981–2001)[edit]

The 1980s began under good omens for the singer, with the album Les Lacs du Connemara from what is extracted two songs considered like important parts of all the French popular music history : Les Lacs du Connemara (Connemara Lakes) and Être une femme (Being a woman).

Throughout the decade, Michel will produce a lot of success : Afrique adieu (Farewell, Africa) in 1982, Il était là (He was here) in 1982, Rouge (Red) in 1984, Chanteur de jazz (Jazz Singer) in 1985, La même eau qui coule (The same water flowing) in 1988...[citation needed] because his sales do not slow down, whereas a lot of artists of his generation have been forgotten with the disco wave.

However he didn't renounce the controversial songs, and even met some success with several of them : Vladimir Ilitch, in 1983, which denounces the drifts of the Soviet Union and the Socialist ideas of Lenin drowned in corruption ; Les Deux écoles (The Two Schools), in 1984, which evocates the opposition between the free school and the private school with a defence of the private school ; Musulmanes (Muslims), in 1986, which throws some pessimistic and bitter looks on the rights of womem in Islamic countries but which also pays a tribute to the Arabic culture.

At the end of the 1980s, Michel Sardou receives the recognition of his peers by being awarded of a Music Victory of the best song of the year for Musulmanes.

In the 1990s, the collection of hits dries, even if his four albums own very good sales. Sardou chooses, for his shows in Paris, the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy in 1989, 1991, 1993, 1998 and 2001, and achieves to fill in this little stadium for a total of 88 times after his tour in 2001,[6] each time with more than 17,000 spectators. He also holds the record of attendances and performances for this stadium.

He receives, in 1990 and in 1999, the Music Victory for the biggest number of spectators gathered at the end of a tour (in 1998, nearly 580,000 persons have come to see him on the scene[4]).

After the opus Français (2001) and the tour which follows, Sardou announces he puts an end at his career of singer.

The renewal (2004–2013)[edit]

Michel Sardou at the Palais des Sports in 2005.

Michel Sardou seemed to leave the scene in order to devote to acting and to his Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin.

But Michel Sardou has proved that he has not given up his singer career, as in 2004 he signed a contract with the record label Universal Music France for a new album entitled Du plaisir, he participated in the French television show Star Academy and finally he organized a big tour in 2004 and 2005, in which he sang in France, in Belgium, in Switzerland and in Canada.

On 13 November 2006, a double album entitled Hors Format is released. This album includes twenty-three new songs, one of whom is a duet with Chimène Badi, Le Chant des hommes (The Men Song). Hors Format has reached 400,000 copies sold and is a double platinum. In 2007, he starts an other tour. He sang in, among others, the Olympia and the Zénith de Paris.

He publishes an album on 30 August 2010 entitled Être une femme (2010). This opus contains a remix, made by the DJ Laurent Wolf, of his own 1980s hit Être une femme in an electronic style. Moreover, this album offers a duet with Céline Dion, Voler (To Fly).[5] A tour follows a meets a new success.

A compilation album of his greatest hits has been released the 22 October 2012. In 2012 and 2013 Michel Sardou gives an other recital entitled Les Grands moments (The Great Moments), which is named after the compilation, and which resumes the biggest hits of the singer, since the middle of the 1960s. The show mainly goes through the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy for three dates in December 2012 and five dates at the Olympia in June 2013. But medical issues forces Michel Sardou to cancel the twelve last representations.

In September 2014, he begins to play the main role in a play written by Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt especially for himself, Si on recommençait ? (If we begin again ?).

Private life[edit]

Michel Sardou has been married in 1965 with Françoise Pettré, a dancer. They have two daughters : Sandrine (born on 15 January 1970) and Cynthia (born on 4 December 1973). They divorced in 1977.

He has been married a second time with Elizabeth Haas, called " Babette ", on October 1977. They have two sons : Romain, writer (born on 6 January 1974) and Davy, actor (born on 1 June 1978). They divorced in June 1999.

Finally, he is married with Anne-Marie Périer, the daughter of the actor François Périer and the sister of the photographer Jean-Marie Périer, since the 11 October 1999. She is the former editor-in-chief of the magazine Elle. They were married in Neuilly-sur-Seine by the former mayor Nicolas Sarkozy (a great friend of Michel Sardou) who is also the former President of France (2007–2012).



Year Album Chart Positions
1968 Petit – Les Ricains 8
1970 J'habite en France 2
1971 Olympia 71
1972 Danton 2
1973 La Maladie d'amour 1
1975 Olympia 75 1
1976 La Vieille 1
Olympia 76 4
1977 La Java de Broadway 2
1978 Je vole 1
1979 Palais des Congrès 78 34
Verdun 10
1980 Victoria 18
1981 Palais des Congrès 81
Les Lacs du Connemara 1
1982 Il était là 2
1983 Vivant 83 2
Vladimir Ilitch 4
1984 Io Domenico 1
1985 Concert 85
Chanteur de jazz 5
1987 Musulmanes 1
Concert 87 8
1988 Le Successeur 2
1989 Bercy 89 5
Sardou 66
1990 Le Privilège 2
1991 Bercy 91 9
1992 Le Bac G 1
1993 Bercy 93 6
1994 Selon que vous serez, etc., etc. 1
1995 Olympia 95 3
1997 Salut 1
1998 Bercy 98 5
2000 Français 1
2001 Bercy 2001 5
2004 Du plaisir 1
2005 Live 2005 au Palais des sports 11
2006 Hors format 1
2008 Zénith 2007
2010 Être une femme 2010 2
2011 Confidences et retrouvailles - Live 2011 8
2013 Les Grands Moments – Live 2013 23

Emblematic songs[edit]

  • Les Bals populaires (Popular Balls), released in 1970. The song deals with the popular village dance parties which were fashionable in the 1970s.
  • La Maladie d'amour (The Love Disease), released in 1973. It is certainly the most famous song of Michel Sardou, it remained at the top for 11 weeks. Michel drew his inspiration for this song from the Pachelbel's Canon. A few bars from the Beatles' Let it Be can also be heard in the song.
  • Être une femme (Being a woman), released in 1981. Satirical viewings on the woman social status' evolution. Sardou makes a list of different jobs expected to be occupied by women (police officer, whore, President of the Republic...) but specifies that whatever they do, their femininity stays in themselves.
  • Les Lacs du Connemara (Connemara Lakes), released in 1981. It is also one of the most popular song of Michel Sardou. Lyrical evocation of Ireland, it is very often sung at the end of French student parties and at weddings in Flanders.[citation needed]
  • Musulmanes (Muslims), released in 1986. Sardou throws pessimistic looks on the status of women in Arabic country. The song received, in 1987, the Music Victory for the best song of the year.
  • La Rivière de notre enfance (The River of your childhood), released in 2004. Performed in duet with the Canadian singer Garou, the song, nostalgic, evocates the traces of our childhood which persist in our lives. This song, extracted from his album Du plaisir, marks also his comeback after three years of inactivity.

Other activities[edit]

Theater manager[edit]

In 2001, he bought the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin, with his producer Jean-Claude Camus. In 2005, he resold his shares to his associate.

Theater actor[edit]

Movie actor[edit]

TV actor[edit]


Preceded by
Francis Cabrel
Male artist of the year
Succeeded by
Patrick Bruel
Preceded by
Laurent Voulzy
Song of the year
1987 – Musulmanes
Succeeded by
Maxime Le Forestier
Preceded by
Award for the biggest number of spectators
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Award for the biggest number of spectators
Succeeded by


External links[edit]