Nino Ferrer

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Nino Ferrer
Nino Ferrer in Italy, 1980
Background information
Birth name Nino Agostino Arturo Maria Ferrari
Born (1934-08-15)15 August 1934
Genoa, Italy
Died 13 August 1998(1998-08-13) (aged 63)
Montcuq, France
Genres Pop, rock, jazz, R&B
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, author
Instruments Vocals, guitar, keyboards
Years active 1959–1998
Labels Riviera, CBS, WEA, Vogue, Fnac Music, Barclay

Nino Agostino Arturo Maria Ferrari, known as Nino Ferrer (1934–1998) was an Italian-French singer, songwriter, and author.

Biography and career[edit]

Nino Ferrer was born on 15 August 1934 in Genoa, Italy, but lived the first years of his life in New Caledonia, where his father, an engineer, was working. Back in France, from 1947, the young Nino studied Ethnology and Archaeology in the Sorbonne university, also pursuing his interest in music and painting.

Ferrer after completing his studies, started traveling the world, working on a freighter ship. After returning to France, he immersed himself in music, and in 1959 appeared on a recording for the first time, playing bass on two 45 singles by the Dixie Cats.[1]

In 1963, Nino Ferrer recorded his own first record, the single "Pour oublier qu'on s'est aimé" ("To forget we were in love"). The B-side of that single had a song "C'est irréparable", which was translated for Italian superstar Mina as "Un anno d'amore" and became a big hit in 1965. Later again, in 1991, Spanish singer Luz Casal had a hit with "Un año de amor", translated from Italian by director Pedro Almodóvar for his film Tacones Lejanos (High Heels).

His first solo success came in 1965 with the song "Mirza". Other hits, such as "Cornichons" and "Oh! hé! hein! bon!" followed, establishing Ferrer as something of a comedic singer. The stereotyping and his eventual huge success made him feel "trapped", and unable to escape from the constant demands of huge audiences to hear the hits he himself despised.[2] He started leading a life of "wine, women and song" while giving endless provocative performances in theatres, on television and on tour.[2]

Ferrer rebelled against the "gaudy frivolity" of French show business, filled with what he perceived as its "cynical technocrats and greedy exploiters of talent." He was mocking life's absurdity in his lesser-known songs, which the public largely ignored.[2] He agreed with Serge Gainsbourg and Claude Nougaro that songs are a "minor art" and "just background noise".[2]

He decided to quit show business altogether in 1967, leaving France and moving to Italy. In 1970, he returned to France and resumed his musical career. In 1975 he started breeding horses in Quercy, France. In 1989, Ferrer obtained French citizenship, which he explained as his "celebration of the bicentenary of the French Revolution." He went on to record the French national anthem, accompanied by a choir.

A couple of months after his mother died, Ferrer, on the 13th of August 1998, two days before his 64th birthday, took his hunting gun and walked to a field of wheat, recently cut, near the neighbouring village of Saint-Cyprien. There, he lay down in a grove nearby and shot himself in the chest.[2] His wife Kinou, with whom he had two sons, had already alerted the gendarmerie after finding a farewell letter in the house. Next day, there were front-page headlines in most French and Italian newspapers, such as "Adieu Nino!", "Nino Ferrer Hung Up His Telephone", "Our Nino Has Left for the South." They called him the Don Quixote and the Corto Maltese of French show business.[2]


Studio albums[edit]

  • 1966: Enregistrement public
  • 1967: Nino Ferrer
  • 1969: Nino Ferrer
  • 1972: Métronomie
  • 1972: Nino Ferrer and Leggs
  • 1974: Nino and Radiah
  • 1975: Suite en œuf
  • 1977: Véritables variétés verdâtres
  • 1979: Blanat
  • 1981: La carmencita
  • 1982: Ex-libris
  • 1983: Rock n'roll cow-boy
  • 1986: 13e album
  • 1993: La désabusion
  • 1993: La vie chez les automobiles

Live albums[edit]

  • 1970: Rats and Rolls
  • 1995: Concert chez Harry

45RPM singles and 4-track EPs[edit]

  • 1963 Pour oublier qu'on s'est aimé ; Souviens-toi / C'est irréparable ; 5 bougies bleues
  • 1964 Ferme la porte ; Je reviendrai / Oh ! Ne t'en va pas ; Ce que tu as fait de moi (Nino Ferrer et les Jubilées)
  • 1964 Les Dolly Brothers (Nino sings on Hello, Dolly! Though he isn’t credited.
  • 1965 Viens je t'attends ; Au bout de mes vingt ans / Jennifer James ; Tchouk-ou-tchouk
  • 1966 Mirza ; Les cornichons / Il me faudra… Natacha ; Ma vie pour rien
  • 1966 Le monkiss de la police ; Monkiss est arrivé / Avec toi j'ai compris le monkiss ; Y'a que toi monkiss (Nino ferrer et les Gottamou)
  • 1966' 'Alexandre ; Oh ! hé ! hein ! bon ! / Le blues des rues désertes ; Longtemps après
  • 1966 Je veux être noir ; Si tu m'aimes encore / La bande à Ferrer (parts 1 & 2)
  • 1967 Le téléfon ; Je cherche une petite fille / Madame Robert ; Le millionnaire
  • 1967 Mao et Moa ; Je vous dis bonne chance / Mon copain Bismarck ; N-F in trouble
  • 1968 Le roi d'Angleterre ; Il me faudra… Natacha / Les petites jeunes filles de bonne famille ; Monsieur Machin
  • 1968 Mamadou Mémé ; Œrythia / Les yeux de Laurence ; Non ti capisco più
  • 1969 Je vends des robes ; La rua Madureira / Tchouk-ou-tchouk ; Le show-boat de nos amours
  • 1969 Agata ; Un premier jour sans toi / Justine ; Les hommes à tout faire
  • 1970 Oui mais ta mère n'est pas d'accord / Le blues anti-bourgeois
  • 1970 Viens tous les soirs / L'amour, la mort, les enterrements
  • 1971 Les Enfants de la patrie / La Maison près de la fontaine
  • 1975 Le Sud / The garden (CBS) appears only on post-1982 re-releases of the album Nino and Radiah
  • 1975 Alcina de Jesus / Les morceaux de fer (CBS)
  • 1976 Chanson pour Nathalie / Moon (CBS)
  • 1978 Joseph Joseph / L'Inexpressible (CBS)
  • 1981 Pour oublier qu'on s'est aimé / Michael et Jane (WEA)
  • 1982 Semiramis / Micky Micky (WEA)
  • 1983 Il pleut bergère / Blues des chiens (WEA)
  • 1986 L'arche de Noé : Création ; Chita Chita / L'arche de Noé
  • 1989 La Marseillaise / Il pleut bergère (Barclay) - (the second track was recorded with the townsfolk of his home village)



  • Christophe Conte and Joseph Ghosn, Nino Ferrer. Du Noir au Sud., Editions no. 1, 2005.
  • Frank Maubert, La mélancolie de Nino, Éditions Scali, 2006.
  • Henry Chartier, Nino Ferrer: c'est irréparable, Éditions Le Bord de l'eau, 2007.

External links[edit]