The singer Jacques Higelin is dead
The French singer, father of the artists Arthur H, Izïa and Kên, died this Friday. A look at the career of this genius singer-songwriter.
By Baudouin Eschapasse
He celebrated his 75th birthday at the Philharmonie de Paris on October 24th and 25th, 2015. At the end of these two exceptional concerts full of emotion, the spectators had felt that, despite the tiredness and the illness which, already, assaulted, Jacques Higelin did not want to leave the scene. His long, almost endless concerts - sometimes more than seven hours at the Cirque d'hiver, in Paris! - were also his trademark. The singer finally bowed out, this Friday, April 6th.
Jacques Higelin, author, composer, performer, actor, writer and poet, was born on 18 October 1940 in Brou-sur-Chantereine (Seine-et-Marne) into a modest family. His father was a railwayman. The little Jacques expresses very early the wish to become a singer. At the age of 14, he does not hesitate to present himself at an audition of the cabaret Les Trois Baudets . Then he did his military service in Algeria, then at war, during which he wrote the Letters of Love of a twenty-year-old soldier, published by Grasset in 1987.
It was at the cinema that Jacques Higelin, a former student of the Simon course, began his career in 1959. He played in Henri Fabiani's Le bonheur est pour demain . In the early 1960s, he toured with directors Yves Robert ( Bébert and l'Omnibus ) and Roger Leenhardt (A girl in the mountains).
But it is the music that paces the life of the young actor. "I heard my grandmother sing in the garden. She had a delicious voice. After work, my father went to the piano and accompanied us. [...] I fell asleep to the sound of my dad's harmonica", he says in I do not live my life, I dream (Fayard). A father to whom he dedicates "Parc Montsouris", a superb piano refrain.
At the beginning of 1964, the producer Jacques Canetti, who admires his talents as a guitarist, proposes to him to put in music poems of Boris Vian. The anthology is sung in particular by Serge Reggiani and Catherine Sauvage. The following year, Jacques Higelin meets Brigitte Fontaine. He wrote him many hits: "The Flu", " We're Here for That" , etc. But it is with the album BBH 75, released in December 1974, that Higelin makes a name for himself. The singer adopts a resolutely rock tone thanks to the bassist Simon Boissezon and the drummer Charles Benarroch, whose initials form, with that of Higelin, the name of the album.
In 1976, with Irradié, to which the young Louis Bertignac collaborates, Higelin digs his furrow rock and abandons definitively the jazzy style of his beginnings. A choice that pays off. Jacques Higelin also gives the cover the same year by signing in the summer of 1976 Alert the babies!, a gold record that also won the CD Grand Prix at the Académie Charles-Cros. Moreover, Higelin will collect all his life gold records.
The years 1976-1988 are the most prolific of the artist. They are particularly marked by the publication of Champagne for everyone and Caviar for others in 1979. But, above all, from Fell in Heaven in 1988, certified double gold disc, then platinum disc. Who has not hummed "Fallen from the sky / through the clouds / What happy omen ..."?
Support François Mitterrand, Jacques Higelin occurs several times at the Feast of Humanity. He never disowns the label of "singer left" that sticks to his skin. On the contrary. He proudly assumes his commitments, multiplying speeches, charity concerts and signatures of petitions in favor of the most diverse causes. "Every time you have to defend people, you can count on me," he answers systematically to the people who ask him.
Lovers of life
Real stage beast, never hesitating to embark on improvisations sometimes risky, Higelin is a generous with a temper. It can be seen as it is in the documentary directed by Sandrine Bonnaire in 2014.
Aware that his memories might fade away, Jacques Higelin published, in autumn 2015, a touching autobiography: I do not live my life, I dream (Fayard). In this book-interview, written with Valérie Lehoux, he looks back on his fifty years of career. A career influenced by Charles Trenet, Sidney Bechet, Henri Crolla, George Moustaki, Jacno and Barbara. He talks about his years in the community, his experience of drugs and alcohol ... But also his love of life that he hammered out: "As long as we're alive, it's the least of to be moving, moving. After, we will not move anymore. Death is our condition. It's the only thing you're sure of in life. Me, it makes me happy to be alive. I sang it, death is the cradle of life. It does not scare me. "
HIGELIN, Jacques (Jacques Joseph Victor Higelin)
Born: 10/18/1940, Brou-sur-Chantereine, Seine-et-Marne, France
Died: 4/6/2018, Paris, Île-de-France, France
Jacques Higelin’s western – actor:
Another Man, Another Chance – 1977 (street singer)