Pierre Rapsat Bookmark and Share


28 May 1948 - 20 April 2002

Born Pierre Raepsaet in the Ixelles municipality of Brussels to a Flemish father (who was a survivor of the Dachau concentration camp) and a mother of Asturian descent. When Rapsat was 10 years old the family moved to Verviers, which remained his home for the rest of his life. As a child he was inspired by the rock music of the Beatles and the Stones as well as the chansonniers Ferré and Brassens. He bought a guitar at his 13th and started writing his own material at the age of 18. Nicknamed Pierrot he met Éric Van Hulse in the late sixties who wrote under the pseudonyme Eric Vion. Together they wrote a first song for Paul Simul called ‘Bye-bye Dave’. After a short membership of the Tenderfood Kids he joined the band Laurélie in 1970. After one album the band split and Pierre joined the group Jenghiz Khan. Their album ‘Welt Cult’ was a minor succes.  In 1973 he launched a solo career. The musical style on his first album ‘New York’ (released in French and English) was eclectic, ranging from rock to chanson, but at this stage this earned him little success. His song ‘L’Enfant du 92ème’ written for Jeanne-Marie Sens became a small hit though. In 1976 he tried to break through via the ESC with the song ‘Judy et Cie’. With its haunting melody and melancholy lyrics, it was an unusual and atypical song for Eurovision at that time. It finished in 8th place. The albums that followed gained some recognition but in 1980 Pierre’s luck changed. Together with Michel Perrin he started the musical TV show ‘Bizarostyl’ that even won a special mentioning at the festival télévision de Montreux.

This fuelled Rapsat's first major success in 1982 with the album ‘Lâchez les fauves’ which sold 30,000 copies in Wallonia. The albums ‘Ligne claire’ (1984), a tribute to comic books, and ‘J'aime ça’ (1986) also sold well, and marked Rapsat's first success in the French market. The more introvert ‘Haut les mains’ (1988) was a lesser international succes though. He continued to release albums to critical acclaim in Belgium throughout the 1990s, although during this period his French success abated. In 1994 he did try to reach out again with a memorable performance at the festival at La Rochelle where he joined Laurent Voulzy for a version of ‘le Soleil donne’. Together with the producer of Voulzy (and Souchon) he recorded the reggae influenced album ‘Blue note dans l’univers’ (1995).

It was not until the release of ‘Dazibao’ in 2001 that he again broke out of the Belgian market once again to enjoy widespread success and acclaim in other Francophone countries. ‘Dazibao’ marked a major comeback for Rapsat in France and was also very popular in Switzerland and Luxembourg. In april 2001 he gave a grand orchestral performance at the Cirque royal in Brussels. He also recorded a duet with singer Lio ‘Tous les rêves sont en nous’ which would be released a year later as a epilogue.  Midway 2001 Rapsat was diagnosed with cancer and was forced to cut down on live appearances while he underwent chemotherapy. Due to this he had to cancel a joined show with Maurane at the Olympia, much to his own regret. He made his final live appearance at a concert in Ath on 1 March 2002. Rapsat died at his home in Verviers on 20 April 2002, aged 53.

On the web:

- Pierre's website: http://www.pierrerapsat.be/
- Order his albums from his production house: http://www.t4a.com/

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Miroslav Zbrika (Slovakia)

What do we think:

DB: In the small circle of Belgian singer/songwriters (Arno, Raymond v/h Groenewoud, Adamo, Maurane) Raspat is easily forgotten. Even his albums are hard to come by if you look for them outside the Wallonian region. I actually dug up two singles in a dusty cellar in Antwerp and bought them even though I never heard of the guy.  Turns out he was more then just a footnote for the local region even making it to the number 51 as being the Belgian of the Century. And yes, there are singers who have a more typical voice, and yes, not all his material seems to pass the test of time. That does not mean he is not an interesting artist to seek out. Although deserving better Pierre Raspat seems to disappear into the mists of musical history. So therefore some rehabilitation.

PR: Great singer, great songwriter, great live performer. A Belgian artist who's art and oeuvre deserved to have more recognition. He combined pop, rock and chanson in the French tradition en blended it into his own very special mixture. A very aimable guy, who sadly passed away much too soon. Fortunately, we can still listen to his records, some of them containing songs that we can consider to be the best of what europop has got to offer. Start with the fantastic 'Je suis moi' and just listen to what a fine live performer Pierre was on En concert : 'Passager d'un soir'.


♪♪♪♪ - New York - 1973

♪♪♪ - Musicolor - 1975

♪♪♪ - Judy et Cie - 1976

♪♪♪♪♪ - Je suis moi - 1977

♪♪♪♪ - Gémeaux - 1978

♪♪ - 1980 - 1979

♪♪♪ - Donner tout son cœur - 1980

♪♪♪ - Un coup de rouge, un coup de blues - 1981

♪♪♪♪♪ - Lâchez les fauves - 1982

♪♪♪♪ - Ligne claire - 1984

♪♪♪ - J'aime ça - 1986

♪♪ - Haut les mains - 1988

♪♪♪ - J'ouvre les yeux - 1989

♪♪♪ - Brasero - 1992

♪♪ - A l'aube du millénaire ... - 1996

♪♪♪♪ - En concert : Passager d'un soir - 1997

♪♪♪ - Volte-Face - 1998

♪♪♪♪ - Dazibao - 2001

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


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