Jean-Louis Aubert, 12 April 1955
Louis Bertignac 23 February 1954
Richard Kolinka, 7 July 1953
Corine Marienneau, 7 March 1952

Jean-Louis Aubert and Richard Kolinka were both somewhat active already in the musicscene. On invitation Aubert records a single with Kolinka’s band Semolina but ‘Et j'y vais déjà’ isn’t the succes they hoped for and the group is disbanned. At a Who-concert they meet Louis Bertignac who is a member of Jacques Higelin’s band at the time and Corine Marienneau. They meet up at a improvised concert at the American Centre in Paris on November 12th, 1976 and take the stage. The present 500 listeners hear early Aubert compositions ‘Hygiaphone’ and ‘Métro, c'est trop’ as well as some Stones and Led Zeppelin covers. From the crowd a sound engineer and a manager emerge and the name Téléphone is chosen. In 1977 they did some shows as support act but they really made some name when they gave a surprise concert at Parisian metrostation Republic causing an enormous traffic jam at the square surrounding the station. The definite break came when a show of American act Blondie at the Olympia was suddenly cancelled and Téléphone was asked to fill in.

Although a self produced single was already on sale Pathé-Marconi quickly signed the band for three albums. The first album was recorded in London at the Eden Studio in Autumn 1977, with the producer of the Sex Pistols, Mike Thorne. The album was mostly filled with songs that were already written. In just a few months it sold over 30.000 copies. The first real tour was organised in December, with, among others, a free concert for 6000 at the Pantin racecourse in Paris. Re-released single ‘Hygiaphone’ was the first Téléphone hit. Follow up album ‘Crache ton venin’ (Spit your venom) was again recorded in London. The record cover was created by Jean-Baptiste Mondino and showed the band naked which added to the provocative image the band already had.

The nine songs on ‘Crache ton venin’ were about adolescent revolt and rejection of an unjust society. The album was also a more combined effort with all band members adding to the material. Single ‘La Bombe humaine’ was a huge hit and to become the generation's battle hymn. Over 600,000 albums were sold.  In 1979 the band also performed at the Fête de l'Humanité (the French Communist Party's annual festival) at La Courneuve on the outskirts of Paris for over 100,000 people. From their tour that year the film’Téléphone Public’, directed by Jean-Marie Périer, was made.
Their third album ‘Au coeur de la nuit’ (In the heart of the night)  was recorded half in Paris, half in New York. The single ‘Argent trop cher’ was also translated in English as ‘Money too dear’ in an attempt to break the English and US market. In 1981 the band participated in the free concert at the Place de la République, Paris, to celebrate François Mitterrand's victory in the French Presidential election.
In 1982 their contract with Pathé ended and the band was so popular at the time recordlabels fought over who to sign them. In the end it was Virgin who released ‘Dure limite’. The Rolling Stones invited Téléphone to perform in the first half of their concert at the Paris racecourse in Auteuil on June 14th, 1982. The first cracks in the band were becoming evident however. Literally when Louis Bertignac broke a collarbone in an unexpected fall during the tour. Some dates were changed but suddenly the ego’s of the bandmembers started to play up. Rumours of separation began to spread. In the spring, they returned to the States on tour, but the Americans showed absolutely no interest in them. Disappointed the band returned and started working on ‘Un autre monde’. The album is by far their most melancholy. It also marks the arrival of a more modern and less rock with synthesizers. Critics blamed the band of selling out for commercial succes with singles ‘New York avec toi’ and ‘Electric city’. Bandmembers started to work on solo projects: Corine wrote lyrics for the film music to "Subway" directed by Luc Besson, Richard started the Kod label and Jean-Louis contributed to the record for Ethiopia by Chanteurs sans Frontières. In 1986 they did return to the studio and they recorded the single ‘Le jour s'est levé’. It would be their swansong peaking at No. 4 in the charts. In April 1986, Jean-Louis Aubert announced that the group was disbanding. In December of that year, Virgin brought out a last double album of a live concert. In 1991 a compilation of Telephone tracks, "Rappel I" sold almost a million copies, showing the domination of the group over the French rock scene. Especcially Aubert went on with a succesfull solo career. The rumours of the group re-forming continue to circulate, but are always denied. Hints of it were present when Aubert climbed the stage of the Bataclan in 1994 during a Bertignac concert. A stint repeated in 2005 at the Olympia. On December 2, 2006 they came close when Jean-Louis Aubert, Louis Bertignac and Richard Kolinka performed ‘Ça (c'est vraiment toi)’ on the plateau Taratata on France 2. Yet it said that Aubert and Marienneau joining on stage is "almost inexplicable”

On the web:

- Téléphone's website:http://www.telephonelegroupe.com/

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

What do we think:

DB: Although intwined with the French punk scène Téléphone was more then just a punk band. They succeeded in taking French-languaged rock onto a higher level and in that sense paved the way for acts like Indochine, Noir Desir and Taxi girl. They gave new spirit to the Chanson Rock which was already present in the underground. Their lyrics were poetic and fierce at the same time. In France they are still (after more then twenty years) highly popular but unjustly forgotten..



- Téléphone - 1977

♪♪♪♪ - Crache ton venin - 1979

♪♪♪ - Au cœur de la nuit - 1980

♪♪♪ - Dure limite - 1982

♪♪ - Un autre monde - 1984

Jean Louis Aubert Solo:
Bleu Blanc Vert (1989) ; H (1992) ; Stockholm (1997) ; Concert privé (en public) (1998) ; Comme un accord (2001) ; Idéal Standard (2005) ; Tournée Idéal Tour (2006) ; Un tour sur moi-même ( tournée acoustique ) (2007 - 2008)

♪♪♪♪♪ = 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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