Michel Polnareff


3 July 1944

Michel Polnareff was born in the Lot et Garonne region on 3 July 1944. In 1965 Michel entered a rock contest at the fashionable Locomotive club in Paris, and, much to his surprise, carried off the first prize - which consisted of the "Disco Revue" award and a recording contract with the renowned Paris record label Barclay.

After refusing the Barclay contract the singer was signed to the AZ record label with whom he recorded his first single "La poupée qui fait non" released on 26 May 1966.  While French record production in the early 60’s remained dominated by the "Yéyé" movement, Polnareff’s catchy melodies were more in keeping with American hippie groups.

It was not long before the French media began to focus on the Polnareff phenomenon. However, French journalists appeared more interested in the singer’s outrageous stage costumes and ever-changing hairstyle, than in his songwriting talent. In1969 Polnareff was given the chance of writing his first film score, composing the music for François Reichenbach’s film "L'Indiscret". It was around this period that the singer adopted his most famous ‘look’, appearing on stage with his blond curls falling over a pair of dark glasses with dazzling white frames. These glasses, which were to form an indissociable part of Polnareff’s image from now on, provoked a series of strange rumours and suppositions. In fact, the reason for the glasses’ sudden appearance was quite simple - Polnareff began wearing them to protect his extremely short-sighted, delicate eyes.

In 1972 he also devoted a great deal of time and energy to song-writing, composing a series of new songs including "Holidays", "La mouche" and "On ira tous au paradis" In the autumn of 1972 he started preparing to stage his new show "Polnarévolution" at the Olympia (6 - 22 October 1972). A huge publicity campaign for the show was launched and 6,000 posters showing the singer cheekily baring his behind were plastered across billboards all over France. Not surprisingly, a new Polnareff scandal soon ensued and the singer ended up appearing in court on 8 December 1972 charged with "gross indecency". He was found guilty of the charge and fined 10 francs per poster.

While Polnareff kept firm control over the artistic side of his career, he delegated responsibility for his financial affairs to a business man named Bernard Seneau (who handled the singer’s accounts from 1971 onwards). Seneau in return embezzled millions of francs from his bank account and disappeared. Polnareff soon found himself embroiled in a huge financial scandal, owing the tax authorities over a million francs. The singer’s response was immediate and drastic - he decided he would leave the country. This was the beginning of the singer’s long exile from his homeland which continues to this day.

On 26 October 1975 the French radio station RTL organised a mega-concert for the singer in Belgium at the Forest-National in Brussels. (Polnareff was still unable to perform in France.) In 1977 Polnareff wrote "Lettre à France" (Letter to France), a song in which he expressed his nostalgia for the country. The following year the singer returned to France (for the first time in five years) to attend a court hearing concerning his tax fraud. Polnareff took advantage of his trip to France to promote his new album, humourously entitled "Coucou me revoilou" (Hi, I’m Back Again !).

Two years later Polnareff was to make a triumphant comeback with his 1981 album "Bulles". After the release of the album "Incognito" (85) Polnareff kept an extremely low profile.  Later that year Polnareff moved into a luxury suite at the Royal Monceau set to work record "Kama Sutra", with the English producer Ben Rogan and a host of talented musicians including Mike Oldfield (of "Tubular Bells" fame) on guitar.

When "Kama Sutra" was released on 18 July 1990 it proved a big success. In 1995 Polnareff returned to the United States. Polnareff continued to flit in and out of the French news in the final years of the 20th century - largely featuring in showbiz magazines. Polnareff made his much-hyped stage comeback at Bercy stadium, in Paris, on 2 March 2007.  He accompanied his come back with two new songs, "Positions" and "Ophélie flagrant des lits". On 10 March 2007, Polnareff was awarded a special "Victoire d'honneur" award for a lifetime’s achievement in music.

On the web:

- Homepage: http://www.polnaweb.com
- Polnareff on Radio France: http://rfimusique.com/siteen/biographie/biographie_6058.asp

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Renato Zero (Italy)

What do we think:

DB: Polnareff made some of the best French pop songs. The iconographic hair and glasses are of course a great gimmick but the music has to be good as well. He had the ability to mix pop music with jazz and chanson. And he knows how to put up a show as we learned during his last concert in Brussels (2006).



♪♪♪♪ - Love me Please Love me - 1967

♪♪♪ - Le Bal des Laze - 1968

♪♪♪♪♪ - Polnareff's - 1971

♪♪♪ - Polnarévolution (live) - 1973

♪♪- Michel Polnareff - 1974

♪♪ - Fame à la Mode - 1975

♪♪♪ - Coucou me Revoilou - 1978

♪♪♪♪♪ - Bulles - 1981

♪♪♪ - Incognito - 1985

♪♪ - Kâma Sûtra - 1990

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