With kind regards
Did the French singer Françoise Hardy ever record songs Nick especially wrote for her?
The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001) clearly thinks so. In the entry on Nick drake it is stated:
"He lived for a short while in Paris at the behest of Françoise Hardy (who never released the recordings she made of his songs) and then settled in Hampstead..."
Here are the facts, at least how I see them:
As with many thinks in Nick's life, information is rare and often contradicting. Some even think they had a relation and lived together for some months. Others just think he had a crush on the beautiful chanteuse - like many schoolboys in the Sixties. The only thing that is certain is taht they have met a few times.
The first time was at the beginning of the Seventies. Producer Joe Boyd wanted more people to know the acts on his Witchseason label. A good way to do so was to get some famous artist to cover their songs. Possibly for contractual reasons he didn't chose to compile simply some songs from Fairport Convention, The Incredible String Band and Nick Drake on an album. Instead he booked some studiotime, in July 1970, and hired a few session singers. One of them was his own girlfriend, Linda Peters - later to marry Richard Thompson and become known as Linda Thompson - and a young man called Reginald Dwight. He was just starting a career as Elton John and payed the rent by covering hitsongs of the day for cheap compilations.
Some hunderd actetates of those new versions were pressed and sent to potential clients.
One of the few who showed some interest in Nick's songs was the French singer Françoise Hardy. She contacted Boyd to let him know that she thought the songs were great and that she would like him to write some for her. A meeting was arranged in her Paris apartment. That visit wasn't exactly a great succes. Arriving in the apartment on the Isle St. Louis Drake withdrew in himself." He never said a word," remembers Hardy in the documentary A Skin Too Few.
"It was excruciating," said Joe Boyd. "Nick sat there, head down, drinking his tea and didn't say a word the whole time; and I had to fill in the awkward silences." (The Sad Ballad of Nick Drake - Mick Brown in The Telegraph, July 12, 1997.)
They nevertheless agree that Nick will write some songs and Françoise will come to London to record them there. Time is booked in Studio Sound Techniques (the studio where Nick recorded all his albums with engineer John Wood).
But before Hardy could come to London, Boyd received an offer from Warner Brothers to go to California. It was too good to refuse, so he sold Witchseason to Island Records.
Some of the finest British folkmusicians were hired for the Hardy sessions. Richard Thompson played guitar on a few tracks. Another was Fotheringay guitarist Jerry Donahue. He confirms that Nick showed up at least once to watch the sessions.
"When we were doing Françoise's album, Nick Drake came up and sat next to me in the control room. I was just making some friendly conversation. He was very quiet in between questions; there would just be a gap. Then I'd ask another question. And each time I did, his eyebrows would raise way up, his eyes would widen, and it was like an effort to kind of get the answer out to satisfy the situation at hand - 'I've gotta deal with this - somebody's putting me on the line, they've actually addressed me and asked me a question. I will do my best to get an answer out.'
Then having successfully managed to crank an answer out, he would withdraw again into silence, until which time I might feel inclined to ask him another question, and the same sequence of events would take place. It was very bizarre. I've never known anybody like him. And he wasn't unfriendly. But you just really felt like you were putting the guy on the spot when you'd ask the most simple harmless questions. I thought he had a real rough time with himself. It was impossible to get to know him, certainly in that brief encounter."
(Richie Unterberger in Unknown Legends of Rock 'n' Roll (Backbeat Books - 1998))
When the album If You Listen is released in Spring 1972, there's no sing of song written by Nick Drake. But his shadow hangs over the album. (There are covers of songs by Beverley Martin, Buffy Ste Marie, Randy Newman and Neil Young.)
If he had written any songs for her they must have ended up on Pink Moon, which he recorded around the same time, during two sessions in October 1971.
When that album, like the two before, disappeared without making much noice, the Youngman sank even deeper in a depression. He returned to his parent's house, but even there he felt like a stranger.
In 1974 it appeared like he was getting better. He recorded some songs in February and June, but this time he found it hard to sing and play guitar at the same time.
In the first week of October he took up an invitation of some friends to visit them in Paris, where they lived in a barge on the Seine.
While he was there, he decided to pay a visit to Françoise Hardy. But when he rang the bell, he didn't recognize the voice on the parlophone. "It's Nick... Nick..." is all he could mutter before returning on his steps. After a few weeks he returned home where he wanted to improve his French before going back to France. But that was nevcer to be. Four weeks later he was death.
Françoise Hardy talked about meeting Nick Drake for the first time, to Patrick Humphries.
"For me, he didn't belong to a particularly British tradition: his style was quite different from that of The Beatles, the Stones and other groups that I was listening to a lot around this time. It is the soul which comes out of his songs that touched me deeply - romantic, poetic... but also the refined melodies. As well as the very individual timbre of his voice, which adds to the melancholy of the whole thing.
Nick seemed - and was no doubt - so shy, so wrapped up in himself, that in retrospect I'm astonished he managed to come and see me two or three times, even knowing that I appreciated his enormous talent. Communication between us was never great, but I had the impression that to know himself appreciated, loved, gave him confidence; and that to feel that his silence presence was accepted was enough for him."
(Patrick Humphries - Brief Encounter in Mojo 39 - February 1997)
1. Oh oh chéri - Il est parti - J'suis d'accord - Tous les garcons et les filles -
- Vogue 7967 -
2. C'est l'amour auquel je pense - Ca a raté - Le temps de l'amour - J'ai jeté mon coeur -
- Vogue 8047 -
3. Ton meileur ami - On se plait - La fille avec toi - Il est tout pour moi -
- Vogue 8048 -
4. L'amour s'en va - Je pense à lui - Comme tant d'autres - L'amour d'un garcon -
- Vogue 8076 -
5. Qui aime-t'il vraiment - Saurai-je - Bien longtemps - On dit de lui -
- Vogue 8111 -
6. Le premier bonheur du jour - Va pas prendre un tambour - Nous tous - J'aurais voulu -
- Vogue 8139 -
7. Le sais-tu - Avant de t'en aller - Toi, je ne t'oublierai pas - L'amour ne dure pas toujours
- Vogue 8179 -
8. Catch a falling star - Find me a boy - Only friends - I wish it were me -
- Vogue 8207 -
9. Pourtant tu m'aimes - Jaloux - On se quitte toujours - C'est la première fois -
- Vogue 8221 -
10. Et meme - Tout me ramène à toi - C'est le passé - Apprends-le-moi -
- Vogue 8222 -
11. Je n'attends plus personne - Pas gentille - Tu ne dis rien - Pars -
- Vogue 8290 -
12. Je veux qu'il revienne - Mon amie la rose - La nuit est sur la ville - Nous etions amies -
- Vogue 8291 -
13. Dis-lui non - Dans le monde entier - Tu es venu à moi - Son amour s'est endormi -
- Vogue 8346 - 1965 -
All over the world - another place - however much - only you can do it -
- Vogue 8348 - 1965 -
Wer du bist - Ich hab das Glück - Peter und Lou - Die Liebe geht -
- Vogue 8352 - 1965 -
Le temps des souvenirs - Tu ne m'attends pas - J'ai bien du chagrin - Bout de lune -
- Vogue 8369 - 1965 -
L'amitié - En t'attendant - Ce petit coeur -
Non ce n'est pas un reve -
- Vogue 8389 - 1965 -
Tu peux bien - Il s'est fait tard - Quel mal y-a-t-il à ca -
Je t'aime -
- Vogue 8411 - 1965 -
La maison où j'ai grandi - Tu verras - Il est des choses -
Je ne suis là pour personne -
- Vogue 8427 - 1966 -
Comme - Je changerais d'avis - Peut-etre que je t'aime - Rendez-vous d'automne -
- Vogue 8487 - 1966 -
Si c'est ca - Qu'ils sont heureux - Je serai là pour toi - Surtout ne vous retournez pas -
- Vogue 8511 - 1966 -
Voilà - Au fond du reve doré - Les petits garcons - Qui peut dire -
- Vogue 8566 - 1967 -
Des ronds dans l'eau - Viens-là - Mon amour adieu -
En vous aimant bien -
- Vogue 8595 - 1967 -
C'était charmant - Il n'y a pas d'amour heureux - Ma jeunesse fout le camp -
- Vogue 8613 - 1967 -
Je ne sais pas ce que je veux - Avec des si - La terre - J'ai fait de lui un reve -
- Vogue 8635 - 1968 -
Comment te dire adieu - Il vaut mieux une petite maison dans la main qu'un grand chateau dans les nuages - L'anamour - Suzanne
- Vogue 8652 - 1968 -
C'est lui qui dort - Étonnez-moi Benoit - La mer, les étoiles, le vent - Où va la chance -
- Vogue 8660 - 1968 -
Des bottes rouges de Russie -Il voyage - L'heure bleue - Au fil des nuits et des journées -
- Vogue 8676 - 1969 -
Le Crabe - Assiette niete - Tu ressembles à tous ceux qui ont eu du chagrin - Un petit sourire, un petit mot -
- Sonopresse HY 1101 - -
La maison où j'ai grandi - Comme - Mon amie la rose - L'amitié -
- Vogue DOV. 02
Autumn Rendezvous - Another place - Say it now - All over the world -
Vogue VRE 5018/Pye records, 1966 -
Voilà, je regarde les autres
Pourtant je ne leur trouve rien
C'est comme ça
Voilà, je vais avec les autres
Le temps passe plus mal que bien
C'est comme ça
Es-tu content de tout?
Je suis là, devant toi, toujours la même
Oh! Pourquoi est-ce encore toi que j'aime
Que j'aime, que j'aime, que j'aime
Tu es là, devant moi, toujours le même
Oh! Pourquoi ne puis-je pas te dire:
Je t'aime, je t'aime, je t'aime
Voilà, je m'en retourne aux autres
Qui m'aiment et que je n'aime pas
C'est comme ça
Et toi, vas retrouver cette autre
Tu l'aimes ou c'est ce que tu crois
C'est comme ça
Voilà, on n'a rien, rien de plus à se dire
Je suis là, devant toi, toujours la même
Tu le vois, c'est encore toi que j'aime
Que j'aime, que j'aime, que j'aime
Tu t'en vas et plus rien ne vaut la peine
Oh! Pourquoi ne puis-je pas crier:
Je t'aime, je t'aime, je t'aime
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Meanwhile, Françoise Hardy’s relationship with Jacques Dutronc was still very much a feature of her personal life, although the couple continued to live apart and were beginning to lead increasingly separate lives by this point. Dutronc was not only pursuing a successful singing career, he had also launched an acting career and was rapidly becoming a major French film star. The fact that he scarcely ever had time to spend with Françoise soon began to put an increasing strain on the pair’s relationship. Yet, the celebrity couple managed to survive and on June 16 1973, Françoise gave birth to a son named Thomas. Following the birth of his son, Jacques would move in with Françoise and the couple began spending a little more time together.
Having left the Sonopresse label, Françoise Hardy went on to sign a new recording deal with the American firm Warner Bros. The singer was soon back at work in the studio, recording a new album "Message personnel" under the direction of Michel Berger. Despite several artistic differences between the pair during the increasingly fraught recording sessions, the album proved to be a huge commercial and critical success. Indeed, the album’s title track, "Message personnel", went on to become one of Françoise Hardy’s best-known songs. Yet, fans had to be content to listen to their idol on the airwaves - there was still no question of Françoise resuming her live performances.
Françoise was more than happy to continue her recording work, however. In 1974 she returned to the studio with the singer Catherine Lara (a close friend of Hardy’s) and a string section, to begin work on her new album entitled "Entracte". Françoise Hardy also enlisted the services of the English producer Del Newman (renowned for his work with British pop star Elton John). Jean-Marie Perier was also involved in preparations for the new album, designing the cover just as he had for all Françoise Hardy’s previous works. (This would be the last occasion on which Périer designed for his ex-lover however). Although "Entracte" is nowadays considered as one of the finest albums of Françoise Hardy’s career, at the time the album’s sales were reasonable but never spectacular.
By this stage in her career, Françoise was spending an increasing amount of time bringing up her young son. She had put her days of being a fashion model well and truly behind her and began dressing in a more comfortable, laid-back style, sporting jeans and baseball boots. Françoise also began distancing herself from the hectic world of showbiz, only making rare media appearances to coincide with her album releases. Between 1974 and 1976, Françoise also began to reduce her busy work schedule, recording only one song in this period (for the soundtrack of Claude Lelouch’s film "Si c'était à refaire"). The only song she wrote during this period was "Que vas-tu faire" (a song for which Jean-Michel-Jarre composed the musical arrangements).
In 1977 Françoise Hardy was to make a major comeback, however, after meeting the musician Gabriel Yared through an editor friend. Yared, a great fan of the singer’s work, offered to work on a new album with Hardy, looking after all the musical arrangements. Once again the recording sessions for the new album were somewhat strained, Hardy’s legendary "ice queen" behaviour doing nothing to improve relations between her and Yared.
Yet the album "Star", which featured excellent material by prestigious songwriters such as Michel Jonasz, Serge Gainsbourg, William Sheller and Catherine Lara, proved a great success. Released on the Pathé-Marconi label (with whom Françoise had just signed a 3-year recording deal), "Star" revealed a whole new side to the singer. And Françoise Hardy soon found herself extremely popular with a whole generation of teenagers who had never even heard of her work in the 60’s. In fact "Star" would catapult Françoise Hardy back into the media spotlight and the singer’s record sales soon began to take off in a major way. Despite their squabbles in the studio, Françoise and Gabriel Yared continued to work together up until 1982, their collaboration producing a further four albums.
Following the release of "Star" Françoise began spending an increasing amount of time with her son Thomas. Meanwhile, the singer also continued to devote a great deal of time and energy to her new passion, astrology. Music was left to take second, even third, place in her life. Yet, in spite of having renounced her live performances, Françoise continued her recording career, returning to the studio in 1978 to begin work on her new album, entitled "Musique saoule". This album (on which the musical arrangements were almost all composed by Gabriel Yared and the lyrics written by Michel Jonasz and Alain Goldstein) marked another change of musical direction. Françoise appeared to have some difficulty with her new musical style, complaining that she found the rhythm of the song "J'écoute de la musique saoule" practically impossible to follow. Yet the single received rave reviews in the French press and massive airplay on national radio. (This was not the first time that Hardy’s fans dared to disagree with her over what constituted her finest work). Françoise Hardy would continue her recording career at a steady pace, releasing on average one new album a year. 1980’s offering, entitled "Gin Tonic", featured excellent contributions from Hardy’s loyal trio of collaborators as well as the renowned songwriter Jean Claude Vannier. The single release, "Jazzy retro Satanas", was not a unanimous hit with the critics. Indeed, many French critics began to express doubts about the new direction Françoise Hardy’s career was taking and some even started implying that the singer’s work was much better when she herself was in charge of the songwriting. (However, Françoise Hardy would remain convinced that her songwriting talent was far inferior to other people’s). In 1981 Françoise returned to the studio to put the finishing touches to a new album, "A suivre". As her habitual songwriters Jonasz and Goldstein were both busy working on other musical projects, Françoise enlisted the services of Pierre Groscolas, Jean Claude Vannier andLouis Chedid . Gabriel Yared assured the musical arrangements once again. The album "A suivre" would soon spawn two immensely successful hit singles, "Tamalou" and "Villégiature". Yet, in spite of this new success, Françoise Hardy continued to steer clear of the media spotlight, her public appearances remaining extremely rare. After signing a new recording deal with the label Flarenash, Françoise Hardy went back into the studio in 1982 to begin work on a new album, entitled "Quelqu'un qui s'en va". This album featured material by a host of prestigious songwriters (Carole Coudray’s "Tirez pas sur l'ambulance",Michel Fugain ’s "Tabou" and the song "C'est bien moi" written by Alain Souchon). Needless to say, the musical arrangements were courtesy of Gabriel Yared.
In the spring of 1984 Françoise Hardy went on to record a new single "Moi vouloir toi", which she had co-written with Louis Chédid. Fans were excited by this new release, believing that it heralded the arrival of a new album. In fact, the singer was devoting an increasing amount of time and energy to her astrological charts and music seemed once again to be taking second place in her life. Fans would have to wait another two years for Françoise Hardy’s next single release, "V.I.P." This single, written by Françoise Hardy and set to music by the singer’s new collaborator Jean Noël Chaléat, received a massive amount of airplay over the next few months and went on to prove a major hit.
Since the very height of her fame in the 60’s, Françoise Hardy had always vowed that she would stop singing before the age of 50. In fact, the singer began preparing her farewell album "Décalage" at the age of 44. On this album - announced as the singer’s final recording - Hardy's own lyrics were set to music by a host of prestigious names including William Sheller, pop star Etienne Saho (one of Hardy’s most loyal fans) and her husband Jacques Dutronc (who composed the excellent "Partir quand même", a song which he had been originally going to record himself). Despite the evident quality of the album, Hardy fans appeared disappointed by this final work, obviously expecting a grander finale than "Décalage". In fact, Françoise Hardy’s farewell would not prove as final all that. In 1993 the star made a quiet comeback, recording a duet with Alain Lubrano, a young up-and-coming singer/songwriter from Pau in the South of France. The couple’s duet "Si ça fait mal", a song about love, sex and AIDS, was originally recorded on a fund-raising compilation album entitled "Urgence". (All the proceeds from "Urgence", the brainchild of pop star Etienne Daho, were donated to AIDS research). But the song was later re-recorded as a single, Hardy inviting Lubrano - who had composed the music for the song - into the studio with her and helping him launch his singing career.
Two years later Françoise Hardy went on to make a major comeback, signing a new recording deal with the British label Virgin in 1995. The singer’s new album, "Le Danger", was released in April 1996 to general critical acclaim and Françoise Hardy soon found herself a pop idol on the British music scene. Indeed, shortly after the album's release, the French singer would be invited to work with the crème de la crème of the British music scene, performing on Malcolm Mc Laren’s album and recording a duet with the hip group Blur entitled "To the End". Encouraged by a group of close friends to get her singing career up and running again, Françoise Hardy would go on to enlist the aid of her protégé Alain Lubrano, and Rodolphe Burger (lead singer of the up-and-coming French group Kat Onoma) who wrote three new songs for her. Listening to the hippest new groups on the Anglo-Saxon music scene such as Portishead and Garbage, Hardy invented a totally modern pop sound for herself, proving that the old 60’s idol was more than capable of adapting to the 90’s music scene.
Françoise Hardy made a major comeback in the spring of 2000, releasing a new album entitled "Clair-obscur" on May 3rd. Hailed as an "essential" Hardy album, "Clair-obscur" received rave reviews from the critics who praised Hardy's performance and the superb arrangements on the album. Hardy invited a whole host of guest stars into the studio with her and the new album included a brilliant duet with the singer's partner Jacques Dutronc - whom she had not teamed up with on record since "Brouillard dans la rue Corvisart" in 1978. The duet, a cover of an old French classic, "Puisque vous partez en voyage", was chosen as the first single release from the album. "Clair-obscur" also featured a duet with Hardy's old friend Etienne Daho (a cover of the Everly Brothers' hit "So Sad"), a double act with young up-and-coming African singer Ol (on Hardy's favourite track on the album, "Celui que tu veux") and a duet with Iggy Pop on the tender ballad "I'll Be Seeing You". Hardy's new album also featured contributions from Rodolphe Burger, Alain Lubrano and Jose Maria Cano (lead singer from the Spanish supergroup Mecano).
Françoise Hardy did not follow her album with a promotional tour, however, preferring instead to stay out of the media spotlight and protect her private life. Later that year Hardy and Dutronc decided to move from their home in the city's 14th arrondissement (where they had lived since the 60s) and buy a new flat together near the Etoile where they became the perfect modern couple, each living on their own floor.
Throughout her successful 30-year career Françoise Hardy has been renowned for her romantically nostalgic songs and her rather melancholy lyrics. These lyrics and the fact that the French star has tended to shun the glare of the media spotlight may lead music fans to conclude that Françoise Hardy is a rather moody person. In fact nothing could be further from the truth! It’s true that the French singer is an extremely private person, but Françoise Hardy’s rare interview appearances also reveal her to be an extremely passionate person, especially when it comes to her double raison d’être : music and astrology.
Towards the end of 2000, Françoise Hardy made a guest appearance on Henri Salvador's album "Chambre avec vue", performing a duet with the popular crooner entitled "Le Fou de la reine." A few months later, she reappeared on Marc Lavoine's new album, guesting on the duet "Chère amie."
In 2002, fans were treated to "Message personnel", a boxed set of three CDs featuring 74 songs from Ms. Hardy's extensive career.
Mother, son and a host of talented songwriters
Françoise Hardy returned to the studio in September 2004 to record a new album, "Tant de belles choses" (released in November that year). The songs on this new album were contributed by a crack team of songwriters and composers including the singer's loyal collaborator Alain Lubrano, Benjamin Biolay, Thierry Stremler and Jacno. Françoise also put her feelers out across the Channel and enlisted the services of the English singer-songwriter Ben Christophers and Irish songwriter Perry Blake, who penned two songs in English. Françoise managed to keep things in the family, too, inviting her son, Thomas Dutronc, to produce four tracks on the album. Thomas also played guitar on several tracks."
In 1961, the French singer Maurice Chevalier went to New York for a few concerts, and he asked to a young singer to come with him; he was called Hugues Aufray; it was early in his career. In Greenwich Village, he met Peter, Paul & Mary, and he was introduced to Bob Dylan.
A few months later, Bob came to Paris to meet Hugues Aufray and as they were at some terrasse for to take a coffee, Bob saw a picture of Françoise Hardy, who also was in the early years of her career, with a great hit, 'Tous les garçons et les filles", more than 1.000.000 LPs sold in a few monthes. Bob asked few questions about this beautiful young girl.... When Bob wrote poems for the back of Another Side of Bob Dylan, there was one dedicated to Françoise Hardy (at the Seine edge...). At this time, Bob had yet to meet the singer.
In Olympia, on May 24th, 1966, Bob Dylan was on stage for his first concert in France - all of show-biz was there in the first row. François Hardy was there, and after the the first part of the show (acoustic), a friend of Bob went to Françoise Hardy, and said to her that Bob would not return to the stage until he could meet her.
So she went backstage and Bob asked her to meet him after the show at his hotel the famous "George V", the most expensive in Paris ... She was 22 years old, rather shy, and she did not really like this kind of party with so many people. In any case, Bob found her in the crowd, and she went in his bedroom only to listen to his new songs. Bob played at first "I Want You", which made her slightly uncomfortable, and the second was "Just Like A Woman".
After this time, Hardy and Dylan never saw each other again.
for françoise hardy
at the seine's edge
a giant shadow
of notre dame
seeks t' grab my foot
whirl by on thin bicycles
swirlin' lifelike colors of leather spin
the breeze yawns food
far from the bellies
of erhard meetin' johnson
piles of lovers
lay themselves on their books. boats.
clothed in curly mustaches
float on the benches
blankets of tourists
in bright red nylon shirts
with straw hats of ambassadors
-- Bob Dylan, from the liner notes to Another Side of Bob Dylan
Françoise’s troubled relationship with her father was not helped by the fact that the only other relatives to whom the young girl was close were her maternal grandparents, who lived in the Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois. Françoise did not get on with her grandmother, whose harsh criticisms and negative comments only served to turn the already introverted child further into her shell. In a later biography Françoise would remember her grandmother as "a totally neurotic old woman with an over-bearing personality". The young girl’s natural timidity was not helped by the fact that she was sent to La Bruyère, a rather strict convent school for girls. Young Françoise grew up to be an extremely studious and pious student who found it difficult to overcome her shyness. This tall, thin girl with long, gangly legs and a somewhat gawky silhouette probably never dreamt that one day she would become one of the most popular French music stars of the 60’s.
Young Françoise soon began writing songs in her free time, inspired by the music she heard on the radio. Françoise was a passionate music fan, listening to Georges Guétary’s operettas from an early age, before progressing to French chanson stars Paul Anka, Charles Trenet and Cora Vaucaire. Sitting alone in her bedroom, Françoise would sing along to the radio, miming to her idols’ greatest hits. The solitary adolescent was often sent to Austria during the school holidays to perfect her German and it was here that she would spend hours listening to her favourite music and composing her own work.
After she had passed her baccalauréat with flying colours, Françoise received a visit from her father who arrived bearing a special birthday gift - a guitar. Now the young girl could really start practising her singing in earnest, and it was not long before she enrolled at the Petit Conservatoire de Mireille (a legendary 60’s singing school). Françoise’s mother pushed her daughter to continue her studies as well as attending the Conservatoire, and the young girl went on to gain a place at the Political Science Faculty. However, politics were certainly not Françoise’s cup of tea, and the young girl soon quit the course, defecting to the Sorbonne to study literature. Meanwhile, Françoise continued to sing and write songs in her free time. The burgeoning young singer would soon spot a record company advert in the local newspaper seeking new up-and-coming artists and plucked up the courage to audition. Françoise’s first audition did not prove a great success, however, but it did encourage her to attend others. Finally, after an intensive series of singing lessons and two further auditions, Françoise Hardy's luck changed. On November 14 1961, at the tender age of 17, the young singer was offered a recording contract with the Vogue label.
Françoise went on to record her début single in April 1962. This first single featured "Oh oh Chéri" (a song written by two of Johnny Hallyday’s habitual songwriters) and three of Françoise’s own compositions including "Tous les garçons et les filles". This last track greatly impressed Daniel Filipacchi, presenter of Radio Europe’s cult music show "Salut les Copains", who went on to play the song almost non-stop. "Tous les garçons et les filles" went on to become a phenomenal hit, selling an incredible two million copies, and young Françoise Hardy was catapulted to fame almost overnight (just as other 60’s idols Johnny Hallyday, Sylvie Vartan, Richard Anthony and pop diva Sheila had been before her). Thus at the height of "Yé yé" (the French rock'n'roll craze), Françoise Hardy found herself at the very forefront of the French music scene.
Françoise soon began to appear on the cover of all the top music magazines of the day. It was while working on a photo shoot for the magazine "Salut les copains" that the young singer would make an encounter which would change the rest of her life. Françoise was to fall in love with photographer Jean-Marie Perier, who transformed the young singer from a shy, gauche-looking schoolgirl into a modern young trend-setter. Besides being Françoise’s lover, Perier was to become a veritable Pygmalion for the young singer.
Françoise soon went on to become the new French 60’s covergirl, her image splashed across the top magazines and newspapers of the day. Indeed, her incredible popularity appeared to know no bounds. Impressed by the young singing star’s quiet beauty, the famous French director Roger Vadim would offer Françoise Hardy a leading role in his film "Château en Suède". Françoise’s role in the film earnt her much acclaim, and many critics declared that a great acting career lay ahead of the young teenager. But Françoise was not really interested in anything other than her singing career.This career reached new heights at the end of 1963 when the young singer was booked to appear at the legendary Paris music-hall, L'Olympia. Performing as a support act to 60’s Yé yé star Richard Anthony, Françoise Hardy brought the house down. Françoise soon followed this first concert success with countless others, when she embarked upon an extensive national tour. In 1963 Françoise Hardy’s début album was released to general critical acclaim. The album, basically a compilation of all the singer’s hit singles up to that point, went on to prove phenomenally successful. Indeed, it would go on to win the prestigious "Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros" as well as the "Trophée de la télévision française". Later that year Françoise Hardy would take part in the Eurovision Song Contest (where, bizarrely enough, she represented not France but Monaco with the song "L'amour s'en va").
The following year Françoise Hardy set off on an extensive European tour which included an appearance in Italy at the famous San Remo Song Contest. Here, the young French singer conquered the hearts of the Italian public with her memorable performance in Italian, performing the song "Parla mi di te". In spite of the fact that Hardy's voice was neither extremely powerful nor strikingly unusual, the singer would continue to woo audiences throughout her career with her exceptional lyrics and the sheer force of the emotion which she put into her performances.
In spite of her new star status Françoise remained a very private person, who was never totally at ease with the flamboyant trappings of the showbiz world. Yet, overcoming Françoise’s initial reluctance, Jean-Marie Perier soon persuaded the singer to begin modelling the creations of top French designers (such as Courrèges, Paco Rabanne, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent). "Mademoiselle Hardy" soon became a star of the international fashion world as well as the French music scene. In 1965 Françoise Hardy ventured into the movie world again, landing a role in Jean-Daniel Pollet’s film "Une balle au cœur". Although the shoot proved to be long and arduous, Françoise’s performance in the film was showered with rave reviews from the critics when the film went on general release in February of the following year.
At the end of 1965 Françoise Hardy returned to the legendary Olympia, this time performing as a support act for traditional French chanson stars, Les Compagnons de la Chanson. The music press was incredulous that an ultra-modern star such as Françoise Hardy could perform with a group whom many critics considered to be utterly old-fashioned - and many others had forgotten altogether! (Françoise herself interpreted these comments as an unforgivable snub on the part of the press). Meanwhile Mademoiselle Hardy’s fame continued to spread beyond French borders and, through the intermediary of her photographer boyfriend Jean-Marie Perier, the young French singer soon began rubbing shoulders with the top names of the day. Hardy would soon be hanging out with The Beatles, Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones.
Françoise soon turned her attention to her acting career once more, starring alongside Yves Montand and James Garner in the American director John Frankenheimer’s film "Grand Prix". The film was not exactly a box office smash, but it was successful in launching Françoise Hardy in the United States. Indeed, shortly after the film's release, the American company Warner Bros would go on to contact Françoise Hardy’s French record label, Vogue, to sign a distribution deal for the singer’s records in the States. After a long and extremely successful promotional campaign, Françoise Hardy became a star in the U.S. The young French star's image would soon be splashed across all the top magazine covers and her presence sought on America's leading TV chat shows. Françoise soon became France’s most "exportable" female singing star. In fact, before conquering the States, Françoise Hardy had already soared to fame in Britain, where she had been recording from the very beginning of her career. Her album "In English" (recorded entirely in English of course!) proved a great hit in Britain and the young French star would bring the house down in London, appearing on stage at ultra-chic venues such as the prestigious Savoy Hotel, dressed in avant-garde creations by French designers Courrèges and Paco Rabanne. Yet Françoise’s incredibly hectic touring schedule was gradually beginning to wear her out, and her relationship with Jean-Marie Périer soon began to suffer. The couple would eventually split up in 1967. However, the void in Françoise’s love life was quickly filled by Jacques Dutronc, a sexy new singing star who had recently arrived on the scene and become the idol of thousands of teenage French girls. However, Françoise was unable to spend much time with her new lover in the early days of their relationship as both singers had extremely hectic touring and recording schedules to keep to. (Françoise was just about to embark upon an intensive 73-date tour!) And when she finally returned to Paris in the autumn of 67, she had to go straight into the studio to record 12 new tracks for her next album "Ma jeunesse fout l'camp". January 1968 proved to be another hectic month in Françoise's career. After appearing on numerous European TV shows, Françoise was then whisked off on another tour, which included numerous dates at British universities. In the spring of 67, Françoise then flew out to South Africa for another series of concerts. In 1968 Françoise Hardy, thoroughly exhausted by her globe-trotting lifestyle, decided to call a halt to her concert tours. The singer performed one last farewell concert at the Savoy in London, then quit the live arena to concentrate on her recording career. However, with the Yé yé wave finally drawing to an end in the late 60’s, Françoise must have already been wondering what was to become of her singing career. What’s more in 1969 the singer became involved in a lengthy legal battle with her record label, Vogue. Later that year Françoise Hardy's own production company (Productions Aspargus) closed down.
Yet, in spite of these obstacles, Françoise Hardy would continue her singing career, reinventing herself completely in the 1970’s. She began by casting off the image of ‘fashionable young girl about town’ that her former boyfriend Jean-Marie Périer had created for her. A more mature Françoise Hardy would emerge from the ashes, demanding to perform songs that reflected her inner self rather than cute pop tunes that would do well in the charts. In 1971 the new-look Françoise Hardy teamed up with a female Brazilian musician named Tuca to record an album on the Sonopresse label. This untitled work, which featured a number of Hardy’s most famous songs including "Chanson d'O" and "La Question" (one of the singer’s favourite texts) was to become a cult album. Despite the fact that this album failed to make any major commercial impact, the press hailed it as an absolute masterpiece. Hardy appeared to be completely unperturbed by poor album sales, preferring to find an audience who respected her true self rather than millions of adoring fans who were seduced by a superficial image.
French singer-songwriter Françoise Hardy’s melancholy material was at odds with the relentlessly cheery music German record buyers preferred in the 1960s. Nevertheless, she became was a huge success in Germany.
Her first top 30 hit came in 1963 with Peter und Lou, a cover of her international hit Tous les garçons et les filles, which also charted in its original French version and made the top 20.
It was another year before the coolest of French chanteuses graced the German charts again, this time with an original German composition, Wer du bist.
Her biggest success came shortly afterwards, with Frag' den Abendwind, a top ten hit in the summer of 1965, which peaked at number seven and spent six months in the charts.
Two further hits, Ich bin nun mal ein Mädchen, a cover of her Pourtant tu m’aimes, and Dann bist du verliebt, followed in 1966. At this time, she also recorded a German version of Dans le monde entier, one of her biggest hits, as Ein Fenster wird hell.
She enjoyed one further top 40, in 1969, with Souvenirs der ersten großen Liebe.
2. In 1966, with Antonio Sabato during the filming of the John Frankenheimer race car classic Grand Prix.
3. In Monte Carlo, during the filming of Grand Prix.
4. Fresh off the plane at London Airport in 1967.
5. Performing at London's Savoy Hotel in 1967.
6. Photographed by William Klein for Vogue in 1968.7. In 1969, a tough but always elegant Hardy, on the verge of the next phase of her career.
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