Michel Delpech

Born : 26/1 /1946 in Courbevoie (France)
Country : France
Language : French
Category : Composer / Male Artist / Songwriter
Style of music : Chanson

Michel Delpech clocked up hit after hit in the seventies and became a permanent member of the select club of France’s biggest record sellers before his career took a violent downturn in the eighties. Following in the footsteps of other ex-stars of French music of the sixties and seventies such as Sheila, Christophe or Mireille Mathieu, Delpech quit the limelight through no choice of his own. Life went on: he travelled, became depressive, became a Christian, fell in love again and, from time to time, brought out an album...

 

Michel Delpech clocked up hit after hit in the seventies and became a permanent member of the select club of France’s biggest record sellers before his career took a violent downturn in the eighties. Following in the footsteps of other ex-stars of French music of the sixties and seventies such as Sheila, Christophe or Mireille Mathieu, Delpech quit the limelight through no choice of his own. Life went on: he travelled, became depressive, became a Christian, fell in love again and, from time to time, brought out an album...

 

Jean-Michel Delpech was born on January 26th 1946 in Courbevoie in the Paris suburbs. His family was well off, his childhood happy. His father was the director of a small company.

First steps 

As an adolescent, Michel was dazzled by the great classical singers, first Louis Mariano and then all the big names of the fifties, from Aznavour to Bécaud. At lycée, he formed a small orchestra with friends and was even spotted by an artistic agent at a school concert, but resulting projects never materialised.

Success did not come immediately but eventually contacts with record companies resulted in a contract with Vogue who brought out his first single, "Anatole", in 1963. Michel Delpech went on to meet the composer Roland Vincent in 1964. The pair hit if off immediately and embarked upon a successful songwriting partnership together.

Later that same year, Michel Delpech starred  in "Copains-clopants", a musical comedy which was a critical success and ran six months before going on tour throughout France. It was a song from the show which first brought Michel Delpech to the public’s attention. From 65, thanks to "Chez Laurette" became a popular artist and today he still includes this song in his recitals. It remains undeniably one of the most famous in the French sixties repertoire. He followed this hit up with another, "Inventaire 66". Delpech began to perform solo, including as support act for Leny Escudero.

It was in "Copains-Clopants" that Delpech met Chantal Simon. They married in 1966. That year he was the support act for one of the pillars of French music, Jacques Brel during his series of farewell concerts at L’Olympia in Paris.

Lift-off 

The turning point in Delpech’s career came in 1977 when impresario Johnny Stark, famous for having launched Mireille Mathieu, took him under his wing. It was as support act for the young singer from Avignon that Delpech began a long international tour that was to take him to the United States and the USSR.

In 68, Delpech was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque for the song "Il y a des jours où on ferait mieux de rester au lit", and the Académie Charles-Cros Prize. He also changed record label, signing with Barclay.

His collaboration with Vincent Paul went from strength to strength with a continuous string of hits. In 69, he signed "Wight is Wight", a tribute to the Isle of Wight rock festival. The following year, he paid tribute to the Beatles with "Paul chantait yesterday". Finally, in 71, he wrote the biggest hit of his career, "Pour un flirt".

At the beginning of the seventies, now the father of Garance, born in 69, Michel Delpech’s public success and private happiness were complete. In 1970 he left Johnny Stark, seeking more artistic independence.

Black hole

From 1972 onwards, Michel Delpech no longer exclusively wrote his songs with Roland Vincent. Now a fully-fledged star he did a three-week season at L’Olympia in January 72. The hits kept coming, with lyrics written by diverse writers who broadened his repertoire: "les Divorcés" by Vincent and Jean-Michel Rivat (73), "Que Marianne était jolie" by Pierre Papadiamandis (73), "le Chasseur" by Jean-Michel Rivat and Michel Pelay (74) and "Quand j’étais chanteur" again by Rivat and Vincent (75). Delpech still continued to write some lyrics himself.In 75 he and his wife Chantal divorced.

In 76 Delpech had an enormous hit with "Le Loir-et-Cher". Nevertheless, around this time, a long period of artistic and psychological depression began for him. For a while he immersed himself in Buddhism before finally turning to Catholicism. At the height of this period of doubt, he wrote a highly autobiographical book, "L’Homme qui avait bâti sa vie sur le sable". He continued to appear occasionally, in 83, for instance, to promote the single "Animaux, animaux". Finally in 83, he met a painter, Geneviève Garnier-Fabre and married her two years later. The same year, their son, Emmanuel, was born.

Renaissance

In 85, now a new man, he brought out his first album in years, "Loin d’ici". The lyrics were mostly written by long-time friends Jean-Michel Rivat and Michel Pelay, but there were also tracks penned by Pierre Grosz, Claude Engel and singer Louis Chédid. The album did not meet with the success of the releases of the old days but the public had far from forgotten him. In 89, a compilation of his greatest hits sold several hundred thousand copies, sales continuing over several years to reach 800.000.

Michel Delpech followed this up with another album, co-written by Dider Barbelivien, "J’étais un ange". In the early nineties, he went back to work with his original co-writer, Roland Vincent. The result, "Les Voix du Brésil", a blend of variety and world music, was released in 92 and met with some success, crowned by a series of concerts at L’Olympia from October 2nd-11th, his first appearance on stage at the famous Paris music venue for 20 years.

Another five years 

After "Les Voix du Brésil", Delpech disappeared from the limelight for a few more years. His comeback came in May 97 with the eponymous album "Michel Delpech". Now fifty, Michel Delpech had mellowed and could look back on the ups and downs of his personal and professional life with a certain detachment.

The album was well received by critics and public alike, no doubt because of its successful blend of traditional songs and a discreet, hip, pop sound. Also, his voice had remained unchanged. Alongside Peyrat and Rivat there are new and unexpected names, among them singer Jean-Louis Murat ("Cartier-Bresson", "C’est à Paris") and Pascal Obispo ("Sans remords ni regret").

In September, Delpech did a six-night stint at the Casino de Paris, then, in November, he received the 24th Oscar de la Chanson Française, awarded by the UNAC (Union National des Auteurs-Compositeurs).

Delpech has been somewhat silent on the music front lately, taking time off from his singing career to write a novel, "De cendres et de braises" with his wife, Geneviève, which was published in May 2000. Following an extensive national tour which took him to the four corners of France over the summer, Delpech re-emerged on the French music scene in the winter of 2000, releasing a compilation album (which included a special bonus track, "J'étais un ange").

Delpech’s comeback tour included a different gig in each of the three greatest Parisian stages. On December 11th, he was at the Olympia, on the 14th at La Cigale where he performed duets with the likes of Alain Chamfort, Louis Chédid, CharlElie Couture, Marc Lavoine and on the 16th at the New Morning, this very special stage usually devoted to Jazz and world music. Such re-known folks as French singer Claude Nougaro, the pianist René Utreger, the accordion player Marc Berthoumieux, the actor Pierre Richard along with his two sons, both of them jazz-players, were on stage with him. It was a unique opportunity to catch up on the artist’s talent.

A discreet artist whose subjects are often anchored in real life and drawn from his personal experience, he has known vertiginous heights (2 million copies of "les Divorcés" sold in 72), and then sunk almost intro oblivion. But the public still recognises the tenderness and sincerity of his repertoire which continues the tradition of a certain brand French musical quality.

Just like you

At the end of 2004, Michel Delpech attempted a major comeback on the French music scene with a new album entitled "Comme vous" (Like You) – his first in seven years! As usual, Delpech enlisted the aid of a host of renowned songwriters on "Comme vous" including his loyal collaborator Jean-Michel Rivat and Pierre Grillet (famous for penning hits for the likes of Alain Bashung and Caroline Loeb). Delpech left the musical content of his new album in the capable hands of Laurent Coulon whose folk and country-influenced compositions put a fresh new spin on the singer's repertoire. 

In February 2005, Delpech returned to the live circuit, performing three concerts at Le Bataclan, in Paris. Excerpts from the concerts featured on a live CD/DVD entitled "Ce lundi-là au Bataclan" (Monday at The Bataclan). The singer then hit the road for a national tour in September.

At the end of 2006, fans were treated to "Delpech Inventaires", a collection of old Delpech albums reissued as a special 5-CD collectors’ set. This coincided with the release of a greatest hits album, "Michel Delpech &…", on which the singer performed a series of his old favourites as duos with young French stars such as Cali, Bénabar and Clarika, as well as older artists including Alain Souchon, Francis Cabrel and Michel Jonasz. The album, produced by Jean-Philippe Verdun, included a nostalgic trip down memory lane with classics such as "Quand j'étais chanteur", "Chez Laurette" and the unforgettable "Pour un flirt ."

A number of these artists joined Delpech on stage when the singer returned to the live circuit in the spring of 2007, performing two concerts at Le Grand Rex, in Paris, on 30 & 31 March. Ségolène Royal (about to run as the Socialist candidate in that year's presidential elections) was in the audience on the second night and Delpech declared his political allegiance, dedicating his song "Que Marianne était jolie" to her. Fans turned out in force to support Delpech on his ensuing national tour. In December 2007, the singer was forced to cancel a string of shows when he went into hospital for an operation following a bout of acute peritonitis. He resumed his tour at the beginning of 2008.

2009: "Sexa"

Delpech made a welcome comeback on the recording front in June 2009 with a new album entitled "Sexa." The title was both a reference to his own age (63) and the "swinging sixties", the decade that launched his career.

Delpech covered many of his favourite themes on his new album including love, peace and forgiveness. He added a new autobiographical edge to his songs this time round, as well, penning many of them in the first person. "Sexa", produced by Jean-Philippe Verdin (an arranger renowned for his work in the electro sphere) is a resolutely elegant, modern work featuring everything from rock guitars, sassy brass and a hint of electro.
Following the release of "Sexa", Michel Delpech kicked off another major French tour on 13 July 2009.  

August 2009

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