July 4, 2012 - 8:30 pm
Julien Clerc first shot to fame more than 40 years ago and still enjoys huge popularity to this day. This youthful and elegant-looking 60-something will be in Byblos to perform all of his greatest hits (“Ma préférence”, “Femmes, je vous aime”, “Ce n’est rien”…), as well as his latest songs, arranged specifically to be accompanied by members of the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra led by Stephan Gaubert.
Paul-Alain Leclerc was born in Paris on October 4 1947. By the age of 13, he took up the piano seriously, teaching himself to play by transposing the songs he heard on the radio. He started writing his first songs in High school and met up with Maurice Vallet, better known as Momo, who went on to become one of his main songwriting partners. After graduating, he spent more time hanging out in the local cafés than studying at the university. In 1966, he met a young dandy/poet by the name of Etienne Roda Gil. The son of a Spanish revolutionary, he would go on to become Clerc’s alter ego and his main songwriter.
Paul-Alain soon got the chance to audition for the Pathé Marconi label. The members of the audition panel were greatly impressed by the young singer’s talent and immediately offered him a 7-year contract. He went on to change his name to Julien Clerc and went straight into the studio in February 1968 to record his debut single, “La cavalerie” (written by Vallet, Roda Gil and Clerc himself). Released amidst the revolutionary fervour of May 68, Julien Clerc’s debut album proved a great success. Clerc’s ‘neo-symphonic’ arrangements combined with the surreal, dream-like atmosphere evoked by Vallet and Roda Gil’s lyrics were hailed as a form of musical revolution, a modern re-invention of traditional French chanson. What’s more, Clerc’s distinctive vibrato immediately made him stand out from the other singers of his generation.
Despite this great success, music critics tended to pigeonhole Clerc as a “girls’ singer”, an image which Clerc had to fight long and hard to shake off. French star Gilbert Bécaud was greatly impressed by the young singer’s style and he invited Clerc to support him at the legendary Olympia musichall in Paris in the spring of 69. His performance was a true triumph! It was at this concert that he was spotted by the producers of the legendary musical “Hair” (which was proving a huge smash on the other side of the Channel at the time). The French version of this “hippie” musical was to prove just as successful in Paris and Clerc was catapulted to stardom almost overnight.
In February 1970 Clerc quit the hit musical and began to devote all his time and energy to his recording career. His intensive work in the studio soon produced a whole string of new hit singles mostly written by Etienne Roda Gil (“Le coeur volcan”, “Ce n’est rien”, “Niagara”…). Clerc returned to the Olympia, in December this time as the headlining act. By the age of 24 Julien Clerc already had his own statue in the famous Paris waxwork museum, le Musée Grévin. His singles and albums were also beginning to sell well abroad, and he even started recording his songs in several different languages.
In 1972, Clerc landed his first acting role, starring in a French TV film. He was practically cast as himself, playing the role of a young musician and even wrote the film’s soundtrack. During the 70’s, Clerc was involved in a few more film projects but he never seriously considered taking up acting as a career, his singing career taking up all his time and energy.
By 1974 Julien Clerc’s record sales had reached phenomenal proportions and he was presented with no less than five gold discs for his staggering album sales. By this point in his career, Clerc had got into the habit of performing a series of concerts in Paris at the end of each year. Meanwhile the successful Clerc/Roda Gil songwriting team kept up their prodigious output. They had a very intense and complicated relationship and even split up for over 10 years!
Julien Clerc’s style gradually evolved and the singer was soon able to shake off the tag of “romantic crooner for young girls” which the critics had firmly attached to him in the early days of his career. 1975 proved to be a year of change: following his agent’s advice, the singer decided to try out some new songwriters and began a successful collaboration with Maxime Le Forestier (“J’ai eu 30 ans” (“I”ve Just Turned 30”)) and Jean Loup Dabadie (“Ma préférence”) who both still work with him to this day.
In 1979 Julien Clerc recorded a song on Philippe Châtel’s children’s album Emilie Jolie (an extremely popular musical fairytale which went on to sell over a million copies). Being genuinely interested in collaborations and collective he teamed up some 20 years later with a host of French stars for a series of fund-raising concerts for “Restaurants du cœur” (a charity set up by the late French comic Coluche).
The release of Julien Clerc’s twelfth studio album Femmes, indiscrétions et blasphèmes in 1982 marked a major turning-point in the singer’s career. Firstly, he left his original label Pathé Marconi to sign with the British record company Virgin (still a small independent label in France in those days). The new album was consequently recorded in a London studio and not in Paris. But the greatest change of this period was Julien Clerc’s new look. The cover of Femmes, indiscrétions et blasphèmes showed a crop-haired Julien who had lopped off his distinctive brown curls in favour of a more modern look.
The album proved to be an enormous success, largely thanks to the hit singles “Femmes je vous aime” and “Lili voulait aller danser”. The latter, accompanied by a trendy modern video, allowed Julien Clerc to get in touch with a younger audience than usual. Thousands of fans old and new flocked to see him live
Julien Clerc returned to the studio in 1984 to record a new album entitled Aime-moi. This album introduced work by one of Clerc’s new collaborators, the Franco-American songwriter David Mc Neil. It was Mc Neil who was responsible for penning Clerc’s single “Mélissa”, which proved to be one of the biggest hits of the 80’s. (Indeed “Mélissa” went on to sell over 700,000 copies and even ended up being translated into Spanish).
In 1985, the singer was invited to host the very first edition of the “Victoires de la Musique” awards. Later that year he also worked on the advertising campaign for the new Citroen BX, writing the music for the advert and the famous lyrics “J’aime, j’aime, j’aime …” (“I love it, I love it, I love it”)
One of the most gifted showmen of French Chanson, Julien Clerc continues to release albums on a regular basis always. They are always followed by huge tours in various formats: solo recitals, intimate acoustic or electric shows, symphonic…
In 2011, the now 64-year-old singer came back with his latest album, Fou, peut être. As usual, he composed the music himself and had the lyrics written by others: Maxime Le Forestier, Julien Doré, Alex Beaupain, Gérard Manset, Mike Ibrahim, Charles Aznavour and Jean-Loup Dabadie all made contributions.
Following the release of this new album, Julien Clerc set off on a new tour along with a symphonic orchestra. Performing on stage non-stop for two entire hours, Clerc literally brings the house down every night as he runs through his latest tracks as well as some reworked versions of his greatest hits.
- 1968 – Julien Clerc
- 1970 – Des jours entiers à t’aimer
- 1971 – Niagara (Julien Clerc)
- 1972 – Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité… ou la Mort
- 1973 – Ça fait pleurer le bon dieu (Julien)
- 1974 – Terre de France
- 1975 – Nº 7
- 1976 – À mon âge età l’heure qu’il est
- 1978 – Jaloux
- 1980 – Quand je joue (Clerc Julien)
- 1980 – Sans entracte
- 1982 – Femmes, Indiscrétion, Blasphême
- 1984 – Aime-moi
- 1987 – Les Aventuresà l’eau
- 1990 – Fais-moi une place
- 1992 – Utile
- 1997 – Julien
- 2000 – Si j’étais elle
- 2003 – Studio
- 2005 – Double Enfance
- 2008 – Où s’en vont les avions?
- 2011 – Fou, peut-être
- 1970 : Olympia 70
- 1973 : Julien Clerc avec vous
- 1977 : Enregistrement public au Palais des Sports (triple 33 tours)
- 1981 : Vendredi 13 (album) (double 33 tours enregistréà Lyon)
- 1983 : Pantin 1983
- 1988 : Pour les fous d’hier et d’aujourd’hui
- 1991 : Amours secrêtes… Passion publique
- 1994 : Olympia intégral 94
- 1997 : Le 4 octobre (enregistré au Palais des Sportsà l’occasion des 30 ans de carriêre de Julien Clerc)
- 2002 : Julien déménage électrique & acoustique (double CD enregistré au Bataclan et au Zénith)
- 2009 : Tour 09
- 1985 : Préférences
- 1994 : Ce n’est rien (1968-1990)
- 1997 : Si on chantait
- 1998 : Intégrale 68-98 (coffret 19 CD)
- 1999 : Quatre compilations : Aimer, Danser, Utile(s) et Partir
- 2006 : 100 Chansons (coffret 5 CD)
- 2009 : Best of (coffret 3 CD)
- 2009 : Live 74, 77, 81 & 09 (coffret 7 C)