Alain Bashung

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The last of the giants

Who is Alain Bashung ?

Date of birth: December 1st, 1947 (Paris, France)
Date of Death: March 14, 2009 (Paris, France) to 61 years old.
Main activity : singer, musician. (also actor)
Sign : Aquarius.

Locate the grave of Alain Bashung on the map :



Atypical artist with the stamp of disillusioned rocker, Alain Bashung has marked the French song of his imprint. “Last of the Giants” for the Inrocks, the author of Gaby and Vertige of Love has influenced several generations of singers.

Born Alain Baschung, he was born in Paris on December 1st, 1947, of a Breton mother and an Algerian father. He will not have known the latter: his name comes from his father-in-law, of Alsatian origin. As a child, he practices the harmonica and discovers the sounds of the blues.

Later, he is sent to Paris with a friend of his mother. He attends his first concerts and approaches two musical styles that will define his career: rock (via Elvis, Gene Vincent or Buddy Holly) and the French song (with Edith Piaf).

At the turn of the twenties, Alain Bashung plays in several groups and already composes solo. Without much success, he lives on gigs in small jobs, composes some titles for Dick Rivers and records 12 singles under different nicks.

In the 70s, the singer knows some success that allows him to hang on: he won including a radio-hook televised, the springboard of the summer. He also plays Robespierre in a musical comedy, “The French Revolution” by Claude-Michel Schonberg. Despite these promising signals, his atypical style is struggling to find his audience, and his career stagnates.

At age 29, he made two meetings that will help forge the Bashung style: Andy Scott, an experienced sound engineer, and especially Boris Bergman, lyricist among others Juliette Greco. With them, Bashung will pass a landing: the team that will take him to the top of the charts is formed.

But the success is still waiting: despite these collaborations, the albums Roman-Photos (1977) and Russian Roulette (1979) are failures. Philips, his label, even thinks of letting go.

Finally, at 32, the collaboration with Boris Bergman hits the mark: Gaby oh Gaby is a huge box and Alain Bashung becomes a star. The single will run to almost 900,000 copies! Despite a belated recognition, the artist will never depart from a disillusioned rocker image, a melancholy, cursed artist with chiseled writing and sweet-bitter melodies.

Bashung is now known to the general public and the confirmation is not long in coming. For the first time, an album won him the favor of critics: it is Pizza (1981), rock album that contains the huge success Vertiges de l’amour.

Alain Bashung then collaborates with Gainsbourg for the album Play Blessures (1982). Wishing to stand out from Gaby Oh Gaby, he signed a dark record and difficult to access, without much commercial success. Imposed figure, released in 1983, knows more or less the same destiny.

He finds his lyricist Boris Bergman on the following album, Past the Rio Grande (1986), and the success is back. The record earned him the Victoire de la Musique for best rock album. Novice, released in 1989, marks a passage of witness between Bergman and Jean Fauque, its new author. The album sings the Bashung style, between new wave synth pads and chiseled riffs in the service of texts to the lunar poetry.

In 1991, Alain Bashung released Osez Joséphine, mythical album, containing the tubes Vertiges de l’amour and Madame rêve. Sold 350,000 copies, it makes Bashung again in a new dimension.

The singer-guitarist will go through the 90’s on this momentum. In 1998 is unveiled Fantaisie Militaire, his 10th studio album. This is a new turning point in his career: Rolling Stones magazine will rank the record 9th in the rankings of the top 100 French rock albums. Fantaisie Militaire will be rewarded with 3 new Victoires de la Musique: best performer, best album and best music video for La nuit je mens. He will meet Chloé Mons on the set, with whom he will be married in 2001.

Bashung at the cinema

From the 80s, the singer transposes his popularity on the big screen. His fans discover him actor over 15 feature films for the cinema, but also for television.

He is particularly noted in Patrick Braoudé’s “Je veux tout”, Patrice Leconte’s “Félix et Lola”, Patrick Armanet’s “The Drugstore Band” and Samuel Benchetrit’s “I’ve always dreamed of being a gangster”. , where he interprets his own role.

Alain Bashung also composes a dozen film soundtracks. In particular, he signs the music of “Beauf”, “Pigalle” or “My small business”.

In 2002, Alain Bashung signed a new album: Imprudence, which met with great success among critics despite a dark atmosphere, sometimes called “twilight”.

He then takes a break, collaborates with several artists, interprets Léo Ferré, Charles Trenet or Nino Ferrer on tribute albums. In 2006, the Cité de la Musique gave him carte blanche for a few days. Bashung took the opportunity to give some performances in the company of several singers he particularly likes (Dominique A, Christophe, Rodolphe Burger …).

It was in 2008 that his latest album, Bleu Pétrole, was released. For the occasion, he surrounded himself with Gaëtan Roussel (Louise Attaque), Arman Méliès and Gérard Manset.

Last moments

Weakened by lung cancer, the singer will have to cancel the end of the Blue Oil tour in 2009. But he will remain active until the end, as if to make up for lost time. He received a legion of honor, then 3 Victoires de la musique for a moving ceremony that will also be his last public appearance.

Alain Bashung died on March 14, 2009 at age 61, surrounded by his family. He will have received a total of 12 Victoires de la musique, an absolute record. He leaves behind a prolific discography, several unforgettable albums and an indelible mark in the pantheon of French rock.

After his funeral at Père Lachaise, the tomb of Alain Bashung took a long time to receive his stele. Due to a disagreement between his family and the funeral society, it will take a year and a half and legal action for the vertical plate is finally affixed late 2010, more than a year and a half after the funeral.

The stele of the tomb of Alain Bashung is remarkable of sobriety, with just a few concentric circles at the level of the vault which represent the furrows of a tower.

In addition to the artist’s name and birth and death dates, there are the words “Tant aimé”. (so loved)

To go further…

Chloé Mons, the widow of Alain Bashung, published “Let Go”. A short story. Shock.
The companion of Alain Bashung tells his last week, then the days that followed his death. A universal story, overwhelming, about the disappearance of a loved one.