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Serge Gainsbourg

Serge Gainsbourg was the dirty old man of popular music; a French singer/songwriter and provocateur notorious for his voracious appetite for alcohol, cigarettes, and women, his scandalous, taboo-shattering output made him a legend in Europe but only a cult figure in America, where his lone hit "Je T'Aime...Moi Non Plus" stalled on the pop charts -- fittingly enough -- at number 69.

Born Lucien Ginzberg in Paris on April 2, 1928, his parents were Russian Jews who fled to France following the events of the 1917 Bolshevik uprising. After studying art and teaching, he turned to painting before working as a bar pianist on the local cabaret circuit. Soon he was tapped to join the cast of the musical Milord L'Arsoille, 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, not as a performer.

Still, he made his recording debut in 1958 with the album Du Chant a la Une; while strong efforts like 1961's L'Etonnant Serge Gainsbourg and 1964's Gainsbourg Confidentiel followed, his jazz-inflected solo work performed poorly on the charts, although compositions for vocalists ranging from Petula Clark to Juliette Greco to Dionne Warwick proved much more successful. In the late '60s, he befriended the actress Brigitte Bardot, and later became her lover; with Bardot as his muse, Gainsbourg's lushly arranged music suddenly became erotic and delirious, and together, they performed a series of duets -- including "Bonnie and Clyde," "Harley Davidson," and "Comic Strip" -- celebrating pop culture icons.

Gainsbourg's affair with Bardot was brief, but its effects were irrevocable: after he became involved with constant companion Jane Birkin, they recorded the 1969 duet "Je T'Aime...Moi Non Plus," a song he originally penned for Bardot complete with steamy lyrics and explicit heavy breathing. Although banned in many corners of the globe, it reached the top of the charts throughout Europe, and grew in stature to become an underground classic later covered by performers ranging from Donna Summer to Ray Conniff.

Gainsbourg returned in 1971 with Histoire de Melody Nelson, a dark, complex song cycle which signalled his increasing alienation from modern culture: drugs, disease, suicide and misanthropy became thematic fixtures of his work, which grew more esoteric, inflammatory, and outrageous with each passing release. Although Gainsbourg never again reached the commercial success of his late-'60s peak, he remained an imposing and controversial figure throughout Europe, where he was both vilified and celebrated for his shocking behavior, which included burning 500 francs on a live television broadcast and recording a reggae version of the sacred "La Marseillaise."

Gainsbourg also created a furor with the single "Lemon Incest," a duet with his daughter, the actress Charlotte Gainsbourg. In addition, he posed in drag for the cover of 1984's Love on the Beat, a collection of songs about male hustlers, and made sexual advances towards Whitney Houston on a live TV broadcast. Along with his pop music oeuvre, Gainsbourg scored a number of films, and also directed and appeared in a handful of features, most notably 1976's Je T'Aime...Moi Non Plus, which starred Birkin and Andy Warhol mainstay Joe Dallesandro. He died on March 2, 1991. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Initials SG

1. Le Poinconneur Des Lilas

2. Intoxicated Man

3. La Javanaise

4. Chez Les Ye-Ye

5. Couleur Cafe

6. Qui Est In Qui Est Out

7. Docteur Jekyll Et Monsieur Hyde

8. Bonnie And Clyde

9. Ford Mustang

10. Initials BB

11. Requiem Pour Un C...

12. Je T'aime Moi Non Plus

13. L'anamour

14. 69 Annee Erotique

15. Sous Le Soleil Exatement

16. Ballade De Melody Nelson

17. La Decadanse

18. Je Suis Venu Te Dire Que Je M'en Vais

19. L'homme A Tete De Chou

20. Marilou Sous La Neige

21. Sex Sex And Sun

22. Aux Armes Et Caetera

23. Dieu Fumeur De Havanes

x

Track List: Aux Armes Et Caetera (Vol.8 - 1979-1981)

1. Javanaise Remake

2. Aux Armes Et Caetera

3. Les Locataires

4. Des Laids Des Laids

5. Brigade Des Stups

6. Vieille Canaille "You Rascal You"

8. Relax Baby Be Cool

9. Daisy Temple

10. Eau Et Gaz A Tous Les Etages

11. Pas Long Feu

12. Marilou Reggae Dub

13. Overseas Telegram

14. Ecce Homo

15. Mickey Maousse

16. Juif Et Dieu

17. Shush Shush Charlotte

18. Toi Mourir

19. La Nostalgie Camarade

20. Bana Basadi Balalo

21. Evguenie Sokolov

22. Negusa Nagast

23. Strike

24. Bad News From The Stars

x

Track List: Gainsbourg Percussions

1. Joanna

2. La-Bas C'est Naturel

3. Pauvre Lola

4. Quand Mon 6,35 Me Fait Les Yeux Doux

5. Machins Choses

6. Les Sambassadeurs

7. New York - U.S.A.

8. Couleur Cafe

9. Marabout

10. Ces Petits Riens

11. Tatoue Jeremie

12. Coco And Co

x

Track List: No 4

1. Les Goemons

2. Black Trombone

3. Baudelaire

4. Intoxicated Man

5. Quand Tu T'y Mets

6. Les Cigarillos

7. Requiem Pour Un Twister

10. L'appareil A Sous

11. La Javanaise

12. Un Violon Un Jambon

x

Track List: Comic Strip

1. Requiem Pour Un Con

3. Initials B.B.

5. Chatterton

6. Bloody Jack

7. Docteur Jekyll Et Monsieur Hyde

8. Torrey Canyon

10. Ford Mustang

11. Black & White

12. Qui Est In Qui Est Out

13. Hold Up

14. Marilu

16. Sous Le Soleil Exactement

18. Les Sucettes

19. L'anamour

x

Track List: Histoire De Melody Nelson

1. Melody

2. Ballade De Melody Nelson

3. Valse De Melody

4. Ah ! Melody

5. L'hotel Particulier

6. En Melody

7. Cargo Culte

x

Track List: Vu De L'exterieur

3. Panpan Cucul

4. Par Hasard Et Pas Rase

5. Des Vents Des Pets Des Poums

6. Titicaca

9. L'hippopodame

10. Sensuelle Et Sans Suite

Comments

Report as inappropriate
bobonnit must be one of those walmarters in XXXXlarge sweatpants waving flag outside of his trailer,wait i n g for the first of the month so his EBT card could get refilled
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Get this cheese eating surrender monkey off of my Classic Rock station
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Dirty old man indeed!
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What a genius! Des Ladies Des Ladies and Bonnie and Clyde are favorites of mine.
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He's attractive
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Love him!
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What a musical genius
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ignacioricar d o
such style and cool...
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I. LOVE. SERG! Des Laides Des Laides is my fav, from his Sly and Robbie phase
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This guy is so ultra COOL!
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Booker T and the MG's-similar ? Wow.
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jmurich
real french music
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karolyne77
haha nice bio.. dirty old man
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chiguy723
ya-ya
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Fabulous!
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Serge = King of French Lounge Music!
Report as inappropriate
No Georges Brassens, France Gall, or Barbara either.
Report as inappropriate
How comes you have him, but do not have Joe Dassin?!

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