Il était une fois Bookmark and Share


The music of this French musical group evolved around the voice of Joëlle Choupay-Mogensen (February 3, 1953 – May 15, 1982). Joëlle was the daughter of a French/Vietnamese/American mother and a Danish father who was serving with UNICEF at the United Nations in New York City. The family eventually returned to Copenhagen in the early part of the 1960s where she attended a private religious school. She spoke six languages and began singing at a young age developing a folk song repertoire. She appeared on American and Danish television variety shows. In 1969 she went to live in the south of France with her mother and sisters where she met guitarist Serge Koolenn. By 1971, she and Koolenn had begun a relationship and released the single ‘Sonne, carillonne / Je rêve’. After meeting Richard Dewitte, they soon organized a musical ensemble of five men with Joëlle as lead singer. Naming the group "Il était une fois" they were signed the Pathé Marconi label. The band released 4 studio albums, the soundtrack to the movie 'La rage aux poings' (1974) and a great number of singles including "J'ai encore rêvé d'elle" that sold more than 1 million copies. The band reguarly performed together with Johnny Hallyday and Joe Dassin. In 1978 the group broke up after Joëlle separated from Serge Koolenn.

After the break-up of Il était une fois, Joëlle signed with Barclay Records. An admirer of the French singer Jean Sablon, she sang with him and dedicated her 1979 single "Numéro un" to him. All three core members released a solo album in 1980. But only Joëlle got a hit with "Homme impossible" even reaching best-selling single on the European music charts in 1981. In 1980 Richard also performed in the original version of Les Miserables. Joëlle was also a member of Équipe à Jojo with Joe Dassin, Carlos, Dave and Jeane Manson. In May 15, 1982 the 29 years old Joëlle was found dead while staying over at a friend’s house. An autopsy determined that the cause of death was pulmonary edema. She was interred in the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris. Her "Aime-moi" was released three days after her death. In the nineties the band had a short Belgian comeback when their biggest hit was used in a parody for comical act Frères Taloche. In the new age the band performs now and then in TV shows with child star Caroline Costa stepping in for Joëlle.

On the web:

- website dedicated to Joëlle and the band: http://joellemogensen.chez.com

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

Modus (Slovakia)

Novi Fosili (Croatia)

What do we think:

DB: I usually call them the French answer to the Carpenters. Easy breezy pop with a leading role for Joëlle light voice and the male harmonies backing her up. No rough guitars or heavy drumsolo’s. It was all fit for comfort and fun for all the family. Like watching the Disney channel decades too soon. The bittersweet touch was in the lyrics that sometimes showed hints of severe depression and heartache. Like Karen Carpenter Joëlle did not make it to a very old age adding that dramatic extra to the image of this sweet popcombo. The remaining members struggled through the Eighties while slowing disappearing into oblivion with their music regarded as elevator-muzak. Even in France it took quite sometime before this friendly band was somewhat rehabilitated. You have to have somewhat of a sweet tooth to appreciate their music.

Recommended albums:

- Il était une fois - 1972

♪♪♪ - Ils vécurent heureux - 1974

- Tourne la page - 1977

♪♪♪ - Pomme - 1978

Joëlle Morgensen (solo)

- Tout Court - 1980

Serge Koolenn (solo)

- Same – 1980

- Paris / Hollywood – 1981

Richard Dewitte (solo)

- Coup D'Eclat Dans Le Coeur – 1980

♪♪♪♪♪ = 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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