Though he was present at the birth of '60s rock & roll in France, it took another 15 years for Alain Bashung's star to rise.
Born in Paris in 1947, he was raised in Alsace but left home at the age of 16 to begin playing in a cover band with several friends. The group lasted several years, until Bashung began recording on his own, for Philips, in 1966. Ten years would pass before any degree of success, though he did play a prominent role in 1972's La Revolution Française, the French rock opera produced by Claude-Michel Schoenberg. In 1976, Alain Bashung began working with lyricist Boris Bergman and songwriter Andy Scott. The change in atmosphere proved helpful, and after test runs on Bashung's long-delayed 1977 debut album and 1979's Roulette Russe, the 1980 single "Gaby, Oh Gaby" became a monster hit. After Bashung became a star and gained his first gold record that year, he then recorded another with "Vertigo de l'Amour," from the album Pizza. He fulfilled a lifelong dream in 1982 when he recorded with Serge Gainsbourg. During the mid-'80s, Bashung remained at the top of the French pop firmament, with singles like "S.O.S. Amor" and "Touche Pas à Mon Pote." He endured a fallout with critics -- and consequently, the public -- during the late '80s, but then roared back with 1991's Osez Joséphine. The album, a song cycle concerning one of the most famous women in French history, became the biggest hit of Bashung's career, selling well and earning him three Victoires de la Musique awards. The similarly thematic follow-up Chatterton followed in 1994 and in 1998 Bashung returned to the top of the French album charts with Fantaisie Militaire. 2002 saw the release of not only the landmark album L’Imprudence but also Cantique des Cantiques with his wife Chloé Mons. Bleu Pétrole, Bashung’s twelfth album came in 2008, and would become his last studio album to be released. Bashung passed away in 2009 after a battle with lung cancer, at age 69. 2011 saw the release of the L'Homme à Tête de Chou, the first posthumous Bashung album. A track-by-track reworking of Serge Gainsbourg’s album of the same name, it was originally recorded as a soundtrack to a Jean-Claude Gallotta dance show. ~ John Bush