The first part (1948-1985) of this biography was published for the
first time in the review Jukebox Magazine in December 1990 and december 1999
Artwork : Anne Le Nan
A childhood between Lyon and Vanves.
Jean-Michel jarre was born on August 24th, 1948 in Lyon. He spends his childhood in Vanves in the Parisian suburb. France Pejot-jarre brings up lonely her small " jamie " and so he doesn't take advantage of the fame of his father the composer Maurice jarre, as people said too often. Indeed his parents divorce while he hasn't got yet 4 years old.
Jean Michel jarre in the arms of his mom
Jean-Michel pursues brilliant studies at the Vanves's Michelet secondary school. Having obtained the GCE in 1966, begins higher education and succeeds a license of letters to Sorbonne with notably a dissertation about Gounod's Faust (or Berlioz according to JMJ's fluctuating recollections) compared with that of Goeth.
Michelet secondary school
Jean-Michel makes his first meeting with the music at the age of eight. This meeting takes place in the constraint because as many children of this age, one put small Jamie behind a piano without asking him for his opinion. Disgusted, he abandons this instrument until the day of his ten. On August 24th, 1958, his mother takes him in Paris in a Jazz's club: " Le chat qui pêche " held by one of her friends : Mimi Ricard (met in Lyonnaise Resistance ). The jazzman Archie Shepp, Don Sherry and Chet Baker, introduce small Jean-Michel to the music in the point to make him loving it. France takes care to organize the new passion of her son. So he takes courses of harmony and counterpoint in the "Conservatoire" of Paris, with Jeanine Rueff.
adolescence and first groups.
Then as many teenagers, at the age of 15 years old he creates groups. The first is called the "Mystères IV" with which he wins the springboard of the fair of Paris. Jamie create a second band that he entitles " Dustbins ". With this group, jarre plays the successes of Shadows and Spotnicks. It is moreover with Dustbins that Jean-Michel jarre records his first single in 1968. This record is doubtless the rarest item for all the fans because it exists only in some copies. It was about a disc auto-producted and distributed for the friends of Jamie.
Single of " Dustbins "
Meanwhile Jarre made a short appearance in Etienne Perrier's film: " Des garçons et des filles" taken out in 1967. With the group " Dustbins " he plays 2 songs: " Let me take your hands " and " I feel so down " a third title being sung with another member of the band.
Single " Des garçons et des filles "
First musical searches: La Cage and Aor.
In January, 1969, Jean-Michel joins the Group of Musical Search where he meets his boss: Pierre Schaeffer who uses the first synthesizers: the VCS 3 and Moog. JMJ takes advantage of the GRM to get acquainted big composers of electro-acoustic music: Parmegiani and Stockausen. In the end of the training in the GRM, he writes a music of five minutes for the MJC SAINT-EXUPÉRY of Reims which he entitles " Hapinness is a sad song ".
Also in 1969, Jean-Michel composes " La Cage ", a title which will go out in single only in 1971 for Pathé-Marconi. On this single exists a second title: "Erosmachine ", it's about a beautiful melody, a part of which will be used again in " Chronologie 2 ". " La Cage ", this antediluvian opus is a strange music mixed with different sounds: musical saw, electric guitar back recorded, drums, rattle, wood spoon, synthesizers and feminine shouts. The second single of Jamie, sold to 117 or 17 copies (according to interviews) saw his stock destroyed by Pathé Marconi after his commercial failure. jarre himself having lost his copy during a move and hadn't it any more until the author of these lines offered him as a gift. It was during memorable day in the property of JMJ in Croissy.
Very fortunately, the tape of " La Cage " were preserved. So, a new edit of this music was integrated into 1978 on an entitled compilation " Made in France ".
Let us return in 1971, period during which jarre is called by the choreographer Norbert Schmucki. He orders to jarre a music for the ballet " Aor ", light in Hebrew. Aor's subject is the dance of seven veils executed by Salomée to subject Hérode. Every music represents a colour of the rainbow. This work is not melodic because it is composed with VCS's 3 sounds and with breaths more rhythmic than harmonious. One could compare it with the noise of an engine of moped. Aor's sequence was used in Industrial revolution 1, it is about the sound of metal ruler which we can hear 1 mn 50 after the beginning of the music. Aor has just been put on-line on JMJ's http: // www.jarre.net official site we can notice that this ballet music was going to supply sequences and sounds for following musics as the Ethnicolor's introductory shout or Bee's factory hummings bees or still shouts orgasmics feminine of Erosmachine. (http: // www.jarre.net).
With this ballet, jarre becomes the youngest composer to see one of its works played at the opera. It is an occasion for Jean-Michel to see his career beginning there where a lot of musicians end it. This first attempt is quickly followed by 2 others: " Le Labyrinthe " and " Dorian Gray " which will be broadcast partially in the television. The researchers can consult the recording of " Dorian " in the Inathèque de France as well as an interesting collection of two hundred broadcasts in which Jean-Michel was invited (to see the list in the Archival chapter: http: // www.multimania.com / toutjarre / tv1.html).
So, it is a long working period when Jean-Michel jarre writes adds musics for Nestlé, Pepsi-Cola and the autoroute A4. This last realization will become later Oxygène IV. He also composes airport musics for the North American company Underground Muzaks, some gingles for RTL, the music of the TV broadcast " sport en fête " presented by Michel Drucker and also the soundtrack of the film " Les Granges Brûlées " with Alain Delon and Simone Signoret.
Besides, jarre participates ardently in the music of his time because he works with the group Triangle on two entitled songs "recreation" and " Le matin du premier jour " in 1972. In 1973, he composes the music of a single called "Lady", a song interpreted by the band Bill and Buster and writes the song "Jolly Dolly" for the band Blue Vamp. The work is noticed by the magician Dominique Webb with whom jarre works for a show in Olympia, a record results from it, it is entitled: Hypnose.
jarre lyric writer.
At the same time jarre becomes a best-selling author from 1973 by writing Christophe's lyrics for albums 'Les Paradis perdus' and 'Les mots bleus' and for Patrick Juvet with albums 'Love' and 'Mort ou vif'.
In 1975, jarre polishes up two texts and a music for the single " Que vas-tu faire? / Le compte à rebours' by Françoise Hardy . He writes four songs for Gérard Lenorman: 'La belle et la bête' (which will become 2nd rendez-vous), 'La fille que j'aime', 'Parade' and 'La mort du cygne' (which will become 3rd rendez-vous').
The same year, jarre composes the music of a TV broadcast directed by Rémy Grumbach and entitled 'Sétyricon' in homage to the comic actor Gérard Séty.
Jean-Michel Jarre has all the talents: author, composer but also director for Christophe's show in Olympia in 1975 in which we can see flying a piano.
First albums: Deserted Palace and Les Granges brûlées.
All this don't prevent Jarre from continuing his own musical career. In 1973, Jarre directed his first album with the music of 'Les Granges brûlées' which will be quickly followed by a second one regrouping musics composed for Underground Muzaks and entitled " Deserted Palace ". This promo album is distributed in libraries in the United States and in Canada. This album is very bare and it's consisted with an organ Farfisa and a VCS 3. We can hear to it neo-classic musics (Music box concerto and Deserted Palace), contemporary music (Free floating anxiety) and sounds already used in 'Les Granges brûlées' meet themselves in Wind swept canyon.
Les Granges brûlées (Italian copy )
Deserted Palace( 1973 )
Under the pressure of the record company Motors, Jarre plays a rework of the international hit Popcorn with B-side " Black-Bird " which is in fact a slightly different music from Deserted Palace. Other singles follow: Cartolina / Helza under the pseudonym " 1906 ". The picture sleeve of the record resumes the poster of a cabaret called " Le chat noir ". There is also "zigzag" which establishes the first Jarre success. This music is covered with numerous bands all over the world and it is used for television shows. The only version played with jarre is entitled " Foggy Joe's ". Samuel Hobo sings the vocal part of Zigzag and will sing also on the single " Freedom day / Synthetic man " a modern blues which would have been able to be interesting without the irritating voice of the blues man.
Single "zigzag" (German picture sleeve)
Single " Freedom day / synthetic man " (Italian picture sleeve)
international Success with Oxygen.
In 1976, the world success of Oxygen arises in the general surprise, it's edited by Motors, a label of Francis Dreyfus Music. Jarre met this producer thanks to Hélène Dreyfus with whom he followed the classes of the "Groupe de Recherche Musicale".
Jean-Michel jarre's third album was sold this day to ten million copies all over the world. Oxygen was composed on a tape recorder eight tracks with only eight keyboards in the Parisian apartment of Jarre, rue de la Trémoille. Oxygen is a music of a new kind very far from the German musical abstraction of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schultze because JMJ's sounds get the listener by their harmony.
Media uses Oxygen. Antenne 2 (french channel) uses "Oxygène IV" for his newspaper broadcast and "Oxygène II" for the broadcast " Récré A2 ". Europe 1 (radio) chose "Oxygène IV" as the credits of the broadcast "Basket", presented by Jean-Loup Lafont. Thanks to this radio broadcast, a single exist with both drawn by Granger, the one is identical to the coverage of the album, the other one represents naturally a basket's shoe.
The album is classified n ° 1 in the British charts, what constitutes an unprecedented event for a French artist.
In 1977 Jarre becomes again a lyric writer for albums Paris by night by Patrick Juvet and in the same year with Christophe's Dolce Vita. Preferring maybe keyboards, Jarre will wait for the album "Metamorphoses" before take again his pen to write lyrics,
Equinoxe : consecration.
The success of Oxygen is confirmed with the album Equinoxe in 1978. The fourth album of jarre is an aquatic record. Indeed, the sounds of waves alternate with those of the rain. Jean-Michel enjoyed lapping in tubs during the recording of Equinoxe III. He fitted out a recording studio in the Croissy's magnificent house that he offered himself with the rights of Oxygen. Equinoxe is guaranteed record of platinum as soon as it edited with two millions of bookings and it reaches today the score of the eight million sold copies.
Jean-Michel jarre's popularity in England becomes enormous, so legendary instrumental group The Shadows plays in 1980 the piece Equinoxe V on his album "Change of address ", this reprise is also edited in single.
Jean-Michel jarre is the French musician the most known in the world and he is elected " man of 1978 " by the north american magazine " People ". The Jarre records are distributed in 65 countries, adding up the prodigious figure of 60 million sold albums.
La Concorde : first spectacle.
The realization of Jean-Michel's triumph takes place during its first spectacle, Place de La Concorde, in Paris on July 14, 1979. He has received an ovation there with 1 million persons, while one expected from it for 100 000 at the most. Spectacle is rather short because it lasts only fifty two minutes. Jarre dazzles his public who is touches due to the musics of Oxygen and Equinox he regrettably interprets in "playback" because he is alone on scene.
Jean-Michel jarre becomes a popular person, he pleases for its music but also for its taste of the spectacle and the event. Each concert transforms the environment and we don't look anymore with the same eye the Place de La Concorde in Paris, the hill from Fourvières in Lyon or the Eiffel Tower after the Jarre's passage in 1995.
In 1980, Jean-Michel's first concert in Paris is immortalized with a video which resumes some images of the show in a 30 minutes video. This video was composed with a synthesizer of images which reminds what made Jean-Christophe Averty for the television. Jarre will reproduce the same pictorial atmosphere eighteen years later in its entitled CD-ROM " Odyssey through O2 ". La Concorde serves also of inspiration for one single who resumes titles " Equinox 7 and 8 ". This first spectacle has the force of an international musical shock. It was seen by hundred million televiewers in the world. As a result, North American and Japanese want that Jean-Michel comes to give a concert so big for themselves. Mick Jagger, present in La Concorde declares to Jean-Michel: " I have never seen that of my life! " And he suggests even to him participating in the new album of Rolling Stones " Emotional Rescue " but Jean-Michel is obliged to refuse due to the lack of time.
Magnetic Fields give rhythm to concerts in China.
In 1981 the third part of the naturalist tryptic : Magnetic Songs is edited. After the air and the water, here is the earth. It directly enters the first ten places of the French and British hits, and is sold on the length about six million copies in the world.
single " the last rumba " (Netherlands)
Machines Drum break light atmosphere that existed in Oxygen and Equinoxe. For this record Jean-Michel purchased a new keyboard: Fairlight CMI, Rolls Royce of the sampler. This instrument allows him to transform in music the sounds of the nature and the daily, mixing noises of trains, planes and human voices with melodies.
1981 marks also the release of the movie " Gallipoli " directed by Peter Weir with Mel Gibson. The soundtrack borrows titles of Oxygen.
single " Gallipoli " ( Australia)
This same year Jean-Michel transports his synthesizers in China for five concerts to Beijing and Shanghaï where accompany him three musicians whose two had worked with Christophe: Dominique Perrier and Roger Rizitelli. The album which ensues from these concerts is simply called " concerts in China ", he is published in May, 1982 and contains 45 minutes of unreleased music. There will be five million copies of it selled in about twenty years.
LP " concerts in China " (Chinese version )
An unique album: Music for supermarket.
1983 mark then a big shock in the show business. Indeed, Jean-Michel announces that his new record will be auctioned in a single copy. It happens in the Drouot hotel. The journalists speak about the presence of numerous curious, about fans, about collectors and naturally the wife of Jean-Michel jarre: Charlotte Rampling. Intrigued by the event, the singer Christophe came also.
Jean-Michel composed very seriously the album Music For Supermarket from February till May, 1983. Michel Geiss recorded the sounds of atmosphere in a supermarket to Montesson near Croissy and, a funny anecdote, while he recorded the supermarkets sounds, Equinoxe 4 was broadcast in the shop. We can hear the rhythmic of this piece by listening very attentively to the A side of the album.
Music for Supermarket is a music in eight parts which accompanies the exhibition Orrimbe where young painters present their pictures of which subject is the supermarket. All these young artists decided to sell their works to the Drouot hotel. To follow the young painters, Jean-Michel has the idea to create an unique record, as a picture, to revalue this support less respected nowadays.
It is 22. 10 when sale begins in this July 6, 1983, auction price is fixed to 50 francs (the price for a normal record at the time) and it is going rather fast to rise until 69 000 francs. The record is won by a certain mister Gérard who is a property manager. In fact, this man is not an unknown for Jean-Michel jarre because he has already met him (what a fate!) in Saint-Tropez where they have got each other a villa. So they were knowing well each other before sale.
A week before bids RTL starts a tremendous media operation with Jean-Michel Jarre whose slogan is regularly broadcast on waves: " bootleg myself ! ". Numerous fans follow advice and would miss for nothing in the world Music For Supermarket and its presentation by Max Meynier.
The A side master is broadcast at 22. 15 and the B side at 23. 10, the album lasts 34 mn 06 but it is wedged between the newspaper and the advertisements, the presenter allows even to speak during the first two minutes of the B side ! It does not prevent the amateurs from listening and from recording event until the end. Today there is thousand bootleg cassettes and CD sold at a high price by some fans profiteers. A consolation, for those that would have missed the broadcasting of the unique album : Jean-Michel jarre resumed three of eight music parts For Supermarket. It is about Blah blah cafe, Diva and 5th Rendez-Vous but the rest is unreleased for ever.
Zoolook: the masterpiece sounds the highlight of the jarrian music.
On November 12, 1984, after one year and a half of journeys and searches, JMJ edits what will doubtless stay his most beautiful album : Zoolook. Criticisms are unanimous on this subject: Zoolook is a masterpiece. Jarre changed register and used human voices, we can hear twenty four languages from French to the Sioux by the eskimo. He even speak on certain fragments, we can hear him " Dansez sur cette chanson obsédante " (dance on this teasing song) in Blah blah cafe.
" Zoolookologie's " video
Helped by the ethnologist Xavier Bellanger, he chosed spoken languages and sung to remodel them in the way. " The most hard, he admits, will have been to transform voices(votes) into percussion instrument ". Nevertheless, Jarre made a success splendidly of this difficult exercise. We can notice for example the voice of Arlette Laguillers (leader of left radical party in France) transformed into sound of Charleston!
For this disc, Jean-Michel is accompanied with the best musicians of New York: Marcus Miller (bass of the orchestra of Miles Davis), Yogi Horton (drum kit), Adrian Bellew and Ira Siegel (electric guitars) and Laurie Anderson who lends his voice for Diva. Laurie she is moreover so recognized as one of the big stars of the electronic music. With this album, Jean-Michel finds the techniques of stickings sounds which he used for his first compositions in the GRM. At early time he had to cut in scissors the ends of tapes of the various sounds that he wished to obtain, then to restick them to create the deliberate original tone. In 1984, the incredible technical possibilities of Fairlight replace the use of scissors. Regrettably, Zoolook hasn't got the commercial impact of the previous albums. This change is too abrupt and surprises the general public as well as the fans of jarre. The dress handkerchief is also avant-gardist, it represents Jean-Michel's photo deformed with computer, what shocks and breaks the atmosphere of Michel Granger's magnificent picture sleeves.
clip of zoolook (Jeunet and Caro)
Nevertheless, two million copies in the world are sold on the length and two of the musics and ethnic songs mixed with Fairlight are used as credits : the first for "Zénith", Michel Denisot's TV show on Canal + which resumes Zoolookologie and Ethnicolor which is used in the soundtrack of " Dangerous under any reports ". Jean-Michel receives by the singer Daniel Balavoine the Victoire de la Musique for the best instrumental album one year after Zoolook's exit. For the anecdote, it is good to remind that Michel Geiss, the right hand of jarre had helped Daniel Balavoine to use Fairlight for the realization of its last album: "Sauvez l'amour ".
In 1985 Dreyfus edits the compilation " The Essential " compilating the successes of the last albums, eliminating consequently Deserted Palace, Les Granges Brûlées and Music for supermarket (the tape of this last one having been burned the day of the auction, there is any more no means to edit it).