Jean-Louis Murat


28 January 1954

Jean-Louis Bergheaud was born in La Bourboule, in the mountainous centre of France, the Massif Central. The son of divorced parents, he spent most of his time with his grandparents on a farm at Murat-le-Quaire, a small village in Auvergne, the name of which he was to adopt as a stage name. From the age of seven, he began to learn music with the local band. He played the cornet and the tenor saxophone, and ended up going to the local conservatoire. At 17, Jean-Louis married (and divorced soon after) and became a father. After travelling a lot a joined the band Clara for a short while.

Although the Clara experiment did not work EMI was interested enough to let Murat record the single ‘Suicidez-vous, le peuple est mort’. Although radio station Europe 1 censured it it did not realise the necessary rumour. A 12 inch EP, entitled ‘Murat’ came out in 82 after which in 1984 a complete album was produced, ‘Passion privée’. Charlélie Couture took him on tour but it would take another five years and a new album ‘Cheyenne Autumn’, before Murat finally got recognition from the big audience. In 1990, the film director Jacques Doillon offered him a role in his film ‘La vengeance d'une femme’, with Isabelle Huppert and Béatrice Dalle. Murat’s romantic nature came to its full bloom with the 1991 ‘Manteau de Pluie’ with themes like: Japanese poetry (‘Le manteau de pluie du’), Brazil (‘Le mendiant à Rio’), the mountains (‘Col de la Croix Morand’) and love (‘le lien défait’). The album was recorded with Neil Conti of the English group Prefab Sprout. In the same year Murat recorded a duo with Mylène Farmer, ‘Regrets’.

The 1996 ‘Dolorès’ was a commercial succes but Murat himself graved other music and considers it as minor, a transition. This came with his 1999 album ‘Mustango’. On this album he changed from the romantic themes from Auvergne to a singer-with-a-conscience, campaigning against violence ('Belgrade') and intolerance ('Les Pédés'). The title of Murat's new album is a symbol of solidarity with Mustang, a tiny kingdom in Tibet. Less than two years later Murat was back with 'Madame Deshoulières' an album based on a series of poems written by Antoinette Deshoulières (a young noblewoman born in 1638).

Murat has often said that he could release two albums a year. True to his word, he brought out a new album in March 2002. Entitled ‘le Moujik et sa Femme’, the album consisted of eleven tracks lasting less than 50 minutes. Very different from ‘Madame Deshoulieres’, this new album found Murat exploring the realm of pop music. In 2004, Jean-Louis Murat hooked up with his bassist Fred Jimenez and Elysian Fields singer Jennifer Charles for an album released under the names of all three: "A bird on a poire". But his steady work flow continued in 2005 with three different artistic projects. "1451", a limited edition book (1,000 copies), "1829" is a musical adaptation of lyrics written by the songwriter of the Napoleonic Empire and an album, ‘Moscou’. Fans would have to wait almost another year and a half before the release of a new Murat album. "Taormina", named after a Sicilian town at the foot of Mount Etna. Soon after he started to work on the ‘Charles et Léo’ project on invitation of Léo Ferré’s son, Mathieu (director of the label La Mémoire et la mer). The idea was to adapt the 22 poems by Charles Baudelaire’s that Ferré already set to music for ‘Les Fleurs du mal’  Flattered by the offer Murat selected twelve of the songs and adapted them with Denis Clavaizolle on piano. Although the project absorbed precious time Murat found time to also work on a normal album called ‘Tristan’, released in 2008, based on the tale of Tristan and Isolde. In 2009 he goes to Nashville for a country-rock inspired album. This seems a temporary sidestep though because in 2011 he returns to France to record the strong 'Grand Lièvre'. In 2013 this is followed by the much more introvert album 'Toboggan'. After a tour with the folkrock band the Delano orchestra he records the album Babel with the band.

On the web:

- Jean-Louis' website: http://www.jlmurat.com

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

Gerard Manset (France)

What do we think:

DB: The romantic voice of Murat will please you or it will make you itch. But fair is fair, he is absolutely French. Although his status nowadays is reasonably settled this was not always the case. And his albums are due to that fact since not every album is evenly interesting. For instance 'Lilith' has some great songs but the entire quadriple album is quiet a chunk to get through. And then there is the side-projects. Nevertheless one of the artistic more interesting artists.


Murat - 1982

Passions privées - 1984

♪♪♪ - Cheyenne autumn - 1989

♪♪♪♪ - Le manteau de pluie - 1991

♪♪♪♪ - Vénus - 1993

Face Nord - 1994

♪♪♪ - Murat Live - 1995

Dolorès - 1996

Live in Dolorès - 1998

♪♪♪♪ - Mustango - 1999

♪♪♪♪ - Muragostang (live) - 2000

Madame Deshoulières (with Isabelle Huppert) - 2001

♪♪♪ - Le moujik et sa femme - 2002

♪♪ - Lilith - 2003

A bird on a poire (with Jennifer Charles, and Fred Jimenez) - 2004;

1829 - 2005

Moscou (Mockba) - 2005

♪♪♪ - Taormina - 2006

Charles et Léo - 2007

♪♪♪ - Tristan - 2008

♪♪♪ - Le cours ordinaire des choses - 2009

♪♪♪♪♪ - Grand Lièvre - 2011

♪♪♪♪ - Toboggan - 2013

♪♪♪ - Babel - 2014

♪♪♪♪♪ = 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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