Alain Bashung


1 December 1947 - 14 March 2009

Alain Bashung was born with a Breton mother and a Algerian father. His father left the family when Alain was very young. The family moved to Wingerheim, Strasbourg where Alain joined the choir and already played the harmonica at the age of 5. In 1959 they return to Paris where Bashung comes in contact with rock ‘n roll. In the sixties Bashung forms his first band in Royan and they start performing in restaurant, hotels and the American army bases. He tries to record his songs but that doesn’t proof that easy.

Finally in 1968 he releases his first solo single called 'Les romantiques'. It flops. In 1971/72 he tries it under the pseudonym Hendrick Darmen with the group 'Monkey Bizness'. Also without success. In 1973 he plays the part of Robespierre in the musical 'La r évolution Française' by Claude-Michel Schönberg. He brings Alain in contact with Dick Rovers of the 'Chat Sauvages' and together they release the single 'Marylou'. Rovers enables him to record his first album called 'Romans photos' in 1977. A typical French chanson album. Due to the punk wave that hits France in that year the album is commercially unsuccesfull but the record company gives him a second chance. The follow up 'Roulette Russe' is much more rock and more in sync with the time. The single 'Gaby, oh Gaby' becomes his first real success.

In 1982 Bashung works together with Serge Gainsbourg for the album 'Play blessures'. The album forms his definite breakthrough to the big public and from then on Bashung is an established artists in the French rock scene.

The album is followed by 'Figure impose' (1983), 'Passé le Rio Grande' in 1986 and 'Novice' in 1989. In 1992 he starts a long lasting relationship with songwriter Jean Fauque for the album 'Osez Joséphine'. The album sells over 350 000 copies. In 1994 he works together with several other French and American artists (Sonny Landreth, Ally McErlaine, Link Wray, Marc Ribot et Stéphane Belmondo) for the album 'Chatterton'.

He also records a duet with Brigitte Fontaine for her come back album 'Les palaces'. In 2001 he marries comédienne and chanteuse Chloé Mons. In 2002 he releases a very gloomy album called 'L'imprudence', to high critical acclaim. In 2005 the 1998 album 'Fantaisie militaire'  is honoured at the Victoires de la musique for one of the best French albums of the last twenty years. In 2006 he records a duet with Francoise Hardy for her album 'Parenthèses....' They record Charles Trenet’s ‘Que reste t'il de nos amours’. At the start of 2007 he participates in the live project 'Les aventuriers d'un autre monde' together with French popstars Jean-Louis Aubert, Cali, Daniel Darc, Richard Kolinka and Raphael. He performs with the collective on two occasiosn at the Salle Pleyel in Paris and contributes on the album 'La mécanique du coeur de Dionysos'.

More collabarations are done with Arno and Daniel Darc (for his album 'Amours supremes') before Alain goes back in the studio himself. The result is the 2008 album 'Bleu pétrole' on which he works together with Gaëtan Roussel of the group Louise Attaque and Gérard Manset, who helps out with several songs, among them a recreation of his hit 'Il voyage en solitaire'.

Suffering from lung cancer for over a year, and very weak, Alain Bashung died on 14 March 2009 at the St. Joseph Hospital in Paris at the age of 61 years. After a religious ceremony in the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, his body was buried in the cemetery of Père-Lachaise on 20 March 2009. Only 2 weeks before his death, on 28 February 2009, he won three awards at the Victoires de la Musique in 2009, including that of the best male singer of the year.

On the web:

- Alain's website: http://www.bashung.fr
- Alain's pages on universal music website: http://alainbashung.artistes.universalmusic.fr

If you like this, you probably like... / european counterparts:

What do we think:

DB: Bashung is the dark side of French chanson. He can be placed in the line of Higelin, Manset and Chamfort but with his dark husky voice and mysterious aura he is more the Scott Walker of the three. His biggest European hit 'Osséz Josephine' is a happy uptempo diddy compared to the rest of his material. Coming from more rock 'n wave in the eighties he delivers his masterpiece in 2002 with 'L'imprudence'. An album of dark doom and gloom, as if you listen to the soundtrack of a nuclear wasteland. Brilliant.

PR: Bashung combines American style pop, rock and blues with traditional French chansons. And it works! He has the talent to write or select the perfect songmaterial for his albums. He has an impressive, deep and multi-coloured voice and knows how to arrange and produce quality records. Furthermore, the man himslef has an intruiging aura, somewhat like the late Johnny Cash. I attended his concert in Brussels, Belgium during the 'L'imprudence tour'. The man wore a black leather coat and sunglasses and almost did not move from the mic. But everyone watched and listened to him the whole concert without losing concentration.

Recommended albums:

♪♪♪ - Pizza - 1981

♪♪♪♪ - Play blessures - 1982

♪♪♪♪ - Figure imposée - 1983

♪♪ - Live Tour 85 - 1985

♪♪ - Passé le Rio Grande - 1986

♪♪♪ - Novice - 1989

♪♪♪ - Osez Joséphine - 1991

♪♪♪♪ - Fantaisie militaire - 1998

♪♪♪♪♪ - L'Imprudence - 2002

♪♪♪♪ - Bleu pétrole - 2008

Further listening:

Romans photos - 1977; Roulette russe -1979; Tour novice (en public) - 1992; Réservé aux Indiens - 1993; Chatterton - 1994; Confessions publiques (en public) - 1995; Climax (compilation) - 2000; Cantique des cantiques (en duo avec Chloé Mons) - 2002; La Tournée des grands espaces (en public) - 2004

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