In a year already overloaded with passings, news that the death earlier today of French legend – poet, singer-songwriter, actor, activist Jacques Higelin, offered one more bit of evidence that 2018 is going down as another bad year for music.
Jacques Higelin is probably not as well known in the U.S. as he is in other parts of the world; certainly in Europe, where he has become almost an institution of sorts, but also for his remarkably talented kids; Arthur H. and Izia (whom I have posted concerts and sessions from in the past).
With all the tributes pouring in, I thought I would grab this one, via the newspaper Le Monde, to give you some idea of who we lost today.
“With the death of Jacques Higelin, who died in Paris on Friday April 6th , the French music scene lost a committed and atypical character, a whimsical poet of French song. Jacques Higelin was born on October 18, 1940 in Brou-sur-Chantereine (Seine-et-Marne) of an Alsatian father and a Belgian mother. He came from a modest background, but his father is a piano player and devotes his free time to music. The child is rocked by the great singers of the time as Maurice Chevalier and Charles Trenet, which will influence later.
“In 1971, Higelin released his first solo album, Jacques Crabouif Higelin . Then he goes on hiatus and leaves Paris. And between 1971 and 1973 lives in the Alps or Luberon. He then turns to rock, provocative and dark. This is the album BBH 75 in 1974 then Irradié in 1976, in which Louis Bertignac participates, future guitarist of the group Telephone. With the album Alert the babies! in 1976, he received the prize of the Académie Charles-Cros. It marks the artist’s public and critical recognition. His first big hit came with the song Pars in the album No Man’s Land , in 1978.
He bacame a recognized artist. In 1979, Jacques Higelin enjoyed a popular success thanks to a double album, Champagne for everyone , caviar for others . The success of the double album marks one of the peaks in his musical life.
He performs in many concerts, during which he gives pride of place to improvisation, which increases his closeness to the public. He also organizes real shows as in 1983 Trocadero where he mixes jazz and circus. His eclecticism astonishes, his musical influences are multiple. Sometimes it’s a failure like the show at Bercy in 1985, a show staged by Patrice Chéreau where he presents two African artists, Senegalese Youssou N’Dour and Guinean Mory Kanté. He then takes a step back and writes a new record, Fell From Heaven, which comes out in December 1988. It’s a huge success.
In 1989, he went on tour and to sold out shows. He uses his notoriety to support social or humanitarian causes like the association Droit au logement . In 1990, Jacques Higelin became a father again. His daughter Izia was born on September 24, 1990. He is 50 years old. His sons Arthur and Ken were born in 1966 and 1972, respectively. In the 1990s, he went on tour, playing mostly festivals: Printemps de Bourges and Francofolies, among others, of which he is one of the pillars. In the early 2000s, he tours in France and abroad.
He returned with the albums Coup de foudre in 2010, then Beau den in 2013. He gave several performances at the Casino de Paris for this latest opus, gold record late 2013.
Finally, in 2016, it’s the album Higelin 75 , a bold album with only eight tracks, one of which lasts twenty-one minutes. And a song in honor of her daughter: She is so touching . Higelin is at the top of his game.
The artistic and musical sensitivity of Higelin does not go away with the passing of this artist. His three children also live in the middle with singer Arthur H, director and actor Kên Higelin and singer Izia Higelin.”
As a tribute to the passing of this remarkable and much-loved artist, here is an excerpt from a concert performed at Antibes in 1980.