Serge Gainsbourg

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Serge Gainsbourg


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(April 2, 1928 – March 2, 1991) Poet, singer-songwriter, painter, actor and director. Born in Paris, France, the son of Jewish Russian parents. He had well known children : a daughter, Charlotte, with Jane Birkin; and a son, Lucien Gainsbourg (aka Lulu), with his last partner, Bambou. Two other children are non-mediatics  : Natacha (born 8 August 1964) and Paul (born 13 April 1968) with Françoise Antoinette Pancrazzi.

Serge Gainsbourg (born Lucien Ginsburg), wanted to be a painter but earned his living as a piano player in bars. He was tapped to join the cast of the musical 'Milord L'Arsouille', where he reluctantly assumed a singing role; self-conscious about his rather homely appearance, Gainsbourg initially wanted only to carve out a niche as a composer and producer, never as a performer.

His early influence was Boris Vian. Gainsbourg wanted to free himself from what he considered old-fashioned 'chanson' and explore other musical grounds, influenced especially by British and American pop. He also wrote soundtracks for more than 40 movies and directed himself in four movies: 'Je t'aime... moi non plus' (10 years censored*), 'Equateur', 'Charlotte For Ever' and 'Stan The Flasher'.

  • [r=541072] (1969) the song, featured simulated sounds of female orgasm. Originally recorded with Brigitte Bardot, it was instead released with a future girlfriend Jane Birkin as Brigitte Bardot backed out. The song was censored in many countries and in France even the toned-down version was suppressed. The Vatican made a public statement citing the song as offensive. Its notoriety led to it reaching no. 1 in the UK chart.

A frequent interpreter of Gainsbourg's songs was British torch singer Petula Clark, whose success in France was propelled by her recordings of his tunes but the first English-language version of a Gainsbourg song was Dionne Warwick's 1965 version of 'Mamadou'.

Concept album [r=408587] produced and arranged by Jean-Claude Vannier was somewhat based on Nabokov's novel Lolita. It has proven influential with artists such as Air, David Holmes who covered a track and Beck.

in 1978 with Robbie Shakespeare, Sly Dunbar and Rita Marley he made a Reggae version of the French national anthem "La Marseillaise". His version earned him death threats from right wing veterans of the Algerian War of Independence (OAS). Gainsbourg was able to reply to his critics that his version was in fact closer to the original as the manuscript clearly shows the words "Aux armes et cætera..." for the chorus.

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Serge Gainsbourg (French: [sɛʁʒ ɡɛ̃zbuʁ] ; born Lucien Ginsburg; 2 April 1928 – 2 March 1991) was a French singer-songwriter, actor, composer, and director. Regarded as one of the most important figures in French pop, he was renowned for often provocative releases which caused uproar in France, dividing public opinion. His artistic output ranged from his early work in jazz, chanson, and yé-yé to later efforts in rock, zouk, funk, reggae, and electronica. Gainsbourg's varied musical style and individuality make him difficult to categorise, although his legacy has been firmly established and he is often regarded as one of the world's most influential popular musicians. His lyrical works incorporated wordplay, with humorous, bizarre, provocative, sexual, satirical or subversive overtones. Gainsbourg wrote over 550 songs, which have been covered more than 1,000 times by diverse artists. Since his death from a second heart attack in 1991, Gainsbourg's music has reached legendary stature in France. While controversial in his lifetime, he has become one of France's best-loved public figures. He has also gained a cult following all over the world with chart success in the United Kingdom and Belgium with "Je t'aime... moi non plus" and "Bonnie and Clyde", respectively.