Spectropop remembers

PAUL MAURIAT (1925 - 2006)

Paul Mauriat, the French orchestra leader, died in Perpignan, France on November 3rd. He was 81. Mauriat specialized in light music and is best known for his 1968 masterpiece "L'Amour Est Bleu" ("Love Is Blue"), written by André Popp and originally recorded by Vicky Leandros, whose version was a No.1 hit in the USA.

He grew up in Paris and began leading his own band during the Second World War. In the 1950s he became musical director for at least two well-known French singers, Charles Aznavour and Maurice Chevalier, touring with them respectively. In 1957, he released his first EP "Paul Mauriat" on RGM. Between 1959 and 1964 Mauriat recorded several albums on the Bel-Air record label under the name Paul Mauriat et Son Orchestre, as well as using the pseudonyms Richard Audrey, Nico Papadopoulos, Eduardo Ruo and Willy Twist, to better reflect the international flavour of his recordings. During this period he also released several recordings with Les Satellites, where he creatively arranged vocal backing harmony for such albums as "Slow Rock And Twist" (1961), "A Malypense" (1962) and "Les Satellites Chantent Noel" (1964). Mauriat composed the music for several French soundtracks (also released on Bel-Air) including "Un Taxi Pour Tobrouk" (1961), "Horace 62" (1962) and "Faits Sauter La Banque" (1964).

He wrote his first song with André Pascal. In 1958 they were prizewinners in the Coq D'or De La Chanson Francaise with "Rendez-vous Au Lavendou". Using the pseudonym Del Roma, Mauriat was to have his first international hit with Petula Clark's "Chariot", which he wrote in collaboration with friends Franck Pourcel (co-composer), Jacques Plante (French lyrics) and Raymond Lefevre (orchestrator). In the USA the song was recorded as "I Will Follow Him" by 15-year-old Little Peggy March, who took it to No.1 in the Billboard charts. In 1992 the song became the main theme for Sister Act, with Whoopi Goldberg. (More recently, Eminem included some bars in his song "Guilty Conscience".)

Between 1967 and 1972 he wrote songs for Mireille Mathieu (the million-selling "Mon Credo" and many others) and contributed 130 arrangements for Charles Aznavour. In 1965 Mauriat established Le Grand Orchestre de Paul Mauriat and released hundreds of recordings and compilations through the Philips label for the next 28 years. In 1994 he signed with Japanese record company Pony Canyon, where he re-recorded some of his greatest hits and wrote new compositions. Mauriat recorded many of these albums in both Paris and London, utilising several English classical musicians in these recordings.

In his '70s and '80s live concerts Mauriat often used singers to provide backing for numbers such as "Penelope", "Love Is Blue" and the "World Melody" section he arranged for his 1980 and 1982 concerts. He was compared favourably with Franck Pourcel, and at times their style were very similar. Mauriat regarded Pourcel as his mentor in the 1950s, and as a major musical and personal influence who inspired him to record with important singers of the 1960s, as well as in the creation of his own orchestra.

Mauriat gave his final performance in 1998 in Osaka, Japan, but his orchestra keeps touring around the world. His former lead pianist, Gilles Gambus, became the orchestra's conductor in 1999 and led successful tours of Japan, China, and Russia. In 2005, classical French Horn instrumentalist, Jean-Jacques Justafre, assumed conductorship of the orchestra, and lead successful tours of Japan and Korea. In 2002 writer and commentator Serge Elhaik released an official authorised biography Une Vie En Bleu.

(Adapted from an unaccredited entry at Wikipedia)

Paul Mauriat, songwriter and orchestra leader:
born March 4th, 1925 - died November 3rd, 2006