Jean Sablon – known as The French Bing Crosby, whose popularity rivaled that of fellow Frenchman Maurice Chevalier, was a popular and much admired singer worldwide. He briefly had a radio show for CBS in the late 1940s. He was the first French singer to use a microphone and his popularity spanned many decades, from the 1920s until his farewell concert in 1983.
Born in Nogentensur Marne near Paris he was the son of a popular songwriter. He began his career in musical comedy but shot to fame when he was spotted by the legendary performer Mistinguett who chose him as her partner at the Casino de Paris.
He moved to the USA in 1933 where he became a hit on many radio shows. George Gershwin and Cole Porter wrote songs for him and he appeared in the Broadway musical Streets of Paris with screen comics Abbott and Costello plus the singing star Carmen Miranda.
His biggest song success was Vous qui passez sans me voir written for him by Charles Trenet. He helped to popularize swing music in France by teaming up on several occasions with Stephane Grapelli and Django Reinhardt. He gave one of many farewell concerts at the age of 75 at the Lincoln Center in New York and another two years later in Rio de Janerio.
Although he became a near-overnight success, some criticized him for being the first French singer to use a microphone.
Detractors of the new amplification device called him the “singer without a voice.” But with songs such as “J’attendrai” (I’ll Wait), “C’est le Printemps” (It’s Spring), “La Chanson des Rues” (Song of the Streets), “Please, James” or “Sur le Pont d’Avignon,” Sablon established a lasting repertoire enhanced by his elegant silhouette and soft, Continental style in which he sometimes whispered rather than sang terms of endearment.
One of his early influences was the American singer “Whispering” Jack Smith.
From France, Sablon traveled to cabarets in Mexico City, Montreal, London and in 1934 to the United States.
It was in this country that he began wearing the pencil-thin mustache that became his trademark.
He also was credited with helping popularize jazz in France through his collaborations with violinist Stephane Grappelli and guitarist Django Reinhardt.
For years he resisted offers to perform on American radio because networks would not import his favorite musicians for the broadcasts.
Sablon was known as a man of character. He refused to accept the prestigious Legion of Honor, saying his brother and sister–who created the “Song of the Partisans” in London during the World War II occupation of France–earned the award for military contributions.
“I’m not going to get it,” he said, “for pushing little songs.”
This ep, released in December of 1958 by French HMV features four songs: La Dame en Gris – Pas Bon Travailler – Monsieur Hans -En Te Quittant, Tahiti – the orchestra is conducted by Paul Baron.