Jacques Dutronc

Jacques Dutronc

Dutronc singing in Lorient, France in January 2010
Background information
Born (1943-04-28) 28 April 1943
Origin Paris, France
Genres French pop,
French rock,
Garage rock,
Psychedelic rock
Instruments Guitar, Piano, Drums, Percussions, Bass, Accordion, Recorder, Sitar, Banjo, Ukulele
Years active 1961 –present
Associated acts El Toro et les Cyclones

Jacques Dutronc (born 28 April 1943) is a French singer, songwriter, guitarist, composer, and actor. He has been married to singer Françoise Hardy since 30 March 1981 and the two have a son (jazz guitarist Thomas Dutronc, born 1973). He also has been a longtime songwriting collaborator with Jacques Lanzmann. Some of Dutronc best known hits include "Il est cinq heures, Paris s'éveille" (a chanson akin to "Waterloo Sunset" by The Kinks that All Music Guide has called "his finest hour"),[1] "Le Responsable",[2] and "Les Cactus".

Dutronc played guitar in the rock group El Toro et les Cyclones. He wrote successful songs for Françoise Hardy in the 1960s before moving on to pursue a successful solo career. His music incorporated traditional French pop and French rock as well as styles such as psychedelic rock and garage rock. He later branched out into film acting, starting in 1973.[3] He earned a Cesar for Best Actor for the leading role in Van Gogh, which was directed by Maurice Pialat.[4] According to the All Music Guide, Dutronc is "one of the most popular performers in the French-speaking world",[3] although he "remains little known in English speaking territories" aside from a cult following in the UK.[5]

Early life

Jacques Dutronc was born on 28 April 1943 at 67 Rue de Provence in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, the home of his parents, Pierre and Madeleine. His father was a manager for the state-run Office of Coal Distribution. Jacques was educated at Rocroy-Saint-Léon elementary school (now a Lycée), the École de la Rue Blanche (now a drama school) and then at the École Professionnelle de Dessin Industriel, where he studied graphic design from 1959.[6]



In 1960, Dutronc formed a band with himself as guitarist, schoolfriend Hadi Kalafate as bassist, Charlot Bénaroch as drummer (later replaced with André Crudot) and Daniel Dray as singer. They auditioned in 1961 for Jacques Wolfsohn, an artistic director at Disques Vogue, who signed them and gave them the name El Toro et les Cyclones.[7] The group released two singles, "L'Oncle John" and "Le Vagabond", but disbanded when Dutronc was obliged to undertake military service.[8]

After being discharged from the army in 1963, Dutronc briefly played guitar in Eddy Mitchell's backing band and was also given a job at Vogue as Jacques Wolfsohn's assistant.[9] In this capacity, he co-wrote songs for artists such as ZouZou, Cléo and Françoise Hardy.

Wolfsohn asked Dutronc to work with Jacques Lanzmann, a novelist and editor of Lui magazine, to create songs for a beatnik singer called Benjamin. Benjamin released an EP in 1966, featuring songs written with Dutronc and a Lanzmann-Dutronc composition, "Cheveux longs" (Long Hair).[10] However, Wolfsohn was disappointed by Benjamin's recording of a song titled "Et moi, et moi, et moi". A second version was recorded, with Dutronc's former bandmate Hadi Kalafate on vocals. Wolfsohn then asked Dutronc if he would be interested in recording his own version.[11] The single reached number 2 in the French charts in September 1966.[12]

Cultural historian Larry Portis describes the arrival of Dutronc on the French music scene, along with that of Michel Polnareff at around the same time, as representing "the first French rock music that can be considered a musically competent and non-imitative incorporation of African-American and African-American-British influences". For Portis, Dutronc marks a break with the literary tradition of French chanson in his creative use of the sounds, rather than just the syntax, of the language.[13]

Dutronc's self-titled debut album, released at the end of 1966, sold over a million copies and was awarded a special Grand Prix du Disque by the Académie Charles Cros, in memoriam of one of its founders.[14] A second single, "Les play boys", spent six weeks at number one and sold 600,000 copies.[15]

Dutronc was one of the most commercially successful French music stars of the late 1960s and early 1970s. During that period, he released seven hit albums and more than 20 singles, including two further number ones: "J'aime les filles" in 1967 and "Il est cinq heures, Paris s'éveille" in 1968.[16]

According to music critic Mark Deming: "Dutronc's early hits were rough but clever exercises in European garage rock...like Dutronc's role models Bob Dylan and Ray Davies, he could write melodies strong enough to work even without their excellent lyrics, and his band had more than enough energy to make them fly (and the imagination to move with the musical times as psychedelia and hard rock entered the picture at the end of the decade)".[5]


Dutronc performing in Annecy in 1971. Also pictured is bassist Noël Mirol.

Most of Dutronc's songs up to 1975 were written with Jacques Lanzmann, with only two written solely by Dutronc. Lanzmann's wife Anne Ségalen is also credited on some songs. Dutronc wrote three songs with comic-book writer Fred, whose stories he also narrated for commercial release in 1970. Two songs were written in 1971 by Lanzmann, Franck Harvel and the composer Jean-Pierre Bourtayre, for a TV adaptation of Arsène Lupin. Co-writing credits on Dutronc's self-titled 1975 album are split between Lanzmann, Serge Gainsbourg and Jean-Loup Dabadie.

In 1973, "Et moi, et moi, et moi" was adapted with English lyrics as "Alright Alright Alright" and became a UK No. 3 hit for the group Mungo Jerry.

Also in 1973, Dutronc began a second career as an actor in the film Antoine et Sébastien, directed by Jean-Marie Périer. Dutronc's second film, That Most Important Thing: Love, directed by Andrzej Zulawski, was a major box-office hit in France. In the following years, Dutronc devoted most of his energies toward his acting career, appearing in films directed by Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Lelouch and Maurice Pialat. In 1977, he was nominated for the César Award for best supporting actor, for his role in Claude Sautet's Mado.[17] Steven Spielberg reportedly considered Dutronc to be the best French actor of his generation, and had the role of René Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark written with him in mind. Dutronc was not given the role, however, because it transpired that his English was not adequate.[18][19]


In 1980, Dutronc began work on a new album under the direction of Jacques Wolfsohn, now an executive at Gaumont Musique. Wolfsohn proposed that Dutronc write with both Jacques Lanzmann and Serge Gainsbourg. During recording, Wolfsohn proposed to Lanzmann and Gainsbourg that they each work on alternative lyrics to go with one of Dutronc's instrumental demos. Lanzmann objected to being placed in competition against another writer, and dropped out of the project.[20] The resulting album, Guerre et pets ("War and Farts" - a play on the title of Tolstoy's novel), consequently only includes two Lanzmann-Dutronc compositions, and is mainly written by Dutronc and Gainsbourg. The album's lead single, "L'hymne à l'amour", received little airplay because its lyric consists primarily of racial epithets (the opening line, roughly translated, is "gook, wog, towel-head, yid"), and the album was only a moderate commercial success. The follow-up, 1982's C'est pas du bronze, was written with Anne Ségalen, by now divorced from Jacques Lanzmann, and was released to a frosty critical reception.[21]

Dutronc's acting career continued during the 1980s, and he appeared in films such as Malevil and Barbet Schroeder's Tricheurs. In 1987, he released a further album, C.Q.F.Dutronc. Most of the songs were written by Dutronc without a partner, although he collaborated with Etienne Daho on one track and with Jean-François Bernardini of the Corsican folk group I Muvrini on another.


In 1992, Dutronc was awarded the César for Best Actor for the title role in Maurice Pialat's biopic Van Gogh. Critic Christopher Null commented that Dutronc "manages to embody the obvious manic depression from Van Gogh's later years, all exuding from his scraggly face, sunken eyes, and bony frame... the searing Dutronc is the real reason to sit through the film".[4]

In November 1992, Dutronc played three comeback concerts at the Casino de Paris, highlights from which were released as a film, directed by Jean-Marie Périer and as a live album, Dutronc au Casino. The album sold over 760,000 copies.[22] At around this time, Dutronc began work on a new studio album, Brèves rencontres, but work progressed slowly and it was not released until 1995.[23]

During the 1990s, Dutronc appeared in two films by Patrick Grandperret and was nominated for a César Award for best supporting actor in 1999, for his role in Nicole Garcia's Place Vendôme.[24]

21st century

On stage in Lorient, 2010

Dutronc starred in Claude Chabrol's 2000 film Merci pour le chocolat. He was awarded the Best Actor prize at the 2001 Marrakech International Film Festival and was nominated for the César Award for best actor for his role in Jean-Pierre Améris' C'est la vie.[25][26] In 2002, he starred in Michel Blanc's Summer Things.

In 2003, Dutronc reunited with Jacques Lanzmann for Madame l'existence, an album described by rock critic Christophe Conte as "surpassing, without much apparent effort, everything that [Dutronc] has created in the last two decades".[27]

In 2005, Dutronc was awarded an Honorary César.[28] Since then, he has appeared in films by directors including Gabriel Aghion and Alain Corneau.

In 2010, Dutronc toured for the first time in 17 years, and released recordings from the tour as a live album and DVD, Et vous, et vous, et vous.[29]

Dutronc's 41st film, Les Francis, was released in 2014.[30]

In November 2014, Dutronc performed a series of concerts with Eddy Mitchell and Johnny Hallyday at Paris Bercy, under the name "Les vieilles canailles" ("The Old Gits"). It was reported that, following these performances, Dutronc intended to begin recording a new album with his son Thomas.[31]

Reputation and influence

According to a 1979 editorial in the French magazine Rock & Folk, Dutronc is "the one singer who is so closely identified with the 1960s that it has become impossible to talk about them without talking about him".[32] In 1991, "Il est cinq heures, Paris s'éveille" was voted the best French-language single of all time in a poll of music critics organised by Le Nouvel Observateur for a TV special broadcast on Antenne 2, beating Jacques Brel's "Ne me quitte pas" into second place.[33][34]

Dutronc's songs have been covered by Matthieu Chedid, Vanessa Paradis, Mungo Jerry, Etienne Daho, Sylvie Vartan, Miles Kane, The Divine Comedy, Serge Gainsbourg and Black Lips, among others.[35][36][37][38][39][40]

In 2015, a tribute album was released by Columbia Records with various artists interpreting songs by Jacques Dutronc. The 13-track album titled Joyeux anniversaire M'sieur Dutronc contained performances by artists Julien Doré, Gaëtan Roussel, Zaz, Joeystarr , Nathy (Tüxo), BAGARRE, Thomas Dutronc, Annie Cordy, the duo Brigitte, Miossec, Francis Cabrel, Francine Massiani, Tété and Camélia Jordana in addition to "L'opportuniste" sung by Jacques Dutronc with Nicola Sirkis.[41] The album charted in France and Belgium.[42]

Personal life

Françoise Hardy, photographed in 1969

Dutronc began a relationship with Vogue label-mate Françoise Hardy in 1967. In 1973, they had a son, Thomas, who grew up to become a successful jazz and pop musician. In 1981, they were married, "for tax reasons", according to Hardy. In 1998, Jacques began a relationship with a stylist whom he had met on the set of the film Place Vendôme.[43] Dutronc and Hardy are now separated, but remain married and see each other regularly.[44]

Regarding politics, Dutronc has described himself as "neither engaged nor apathetic".[45] In a 2009 interview, he said that he had voted for the first time ever in the 2007 French presidential election, for Arlette Laguiller in the first round and Nicolas Sarkozy in the second, because "everyone did" but also as a vote against Ségolène Royal whom, he said, he "preferred not to have as president but in his home, along with his mates."[46]

He currently lives in the town of Monticello, Corsica.[47]

In 2015, Dutronc revealed he had a brief relationship with Romy Schneider that lasted as long as they were shooting the film That Most Important Thing: Love.[48][47]


Studio albums

Live albums



Collaborations with the French children's author Fred.




Selected filmography

Year Title Role Director
1974 Antoine and Sebastian Sébastien Jean-Marie Périer
OK patron Léon Bonnet Claude Vital
1975 That Most Important Thing: Love Jacques Chevalier Andrzej Żuławski
1976 The Good and the Bad Jacques Claude Lelouch
Mado Pierre Claude Sautet
1977 Violette et François François Jacques Rouffio
Le Point de mire Julien Jean-Claude Tramont
1978 Dirty Dreamer Jérôme Jean-Marie Périer
The Savage State Avit Francis Girod
1979 Return to the Beloved Julien Jean-François Adam
Us Two Simon Lacassaigne Claude Lelouch
1980 Slow Motion a.k.a. Every Man for Himself Paul Godard Jean-Luc Godard
1981 Malevil Colin Christian de Chalonge
1984 Tricheurs Elric Barbet Schroeder
1989 My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days Lucas Andrzej Żuławski
1991 Van Gogh Van Gogh Maurice Pialat
1992 Toutes peines confondues Antoine Gardella Michel Deville
1998 Place Vendôme Battistelli Nicole Garcia
2000 Merci pour le chocolat André Polonski Claude Chabrol
2002 Summer Things Bertrand Lannier Michel Blanc

See also



  1. Kik, Quint. "Jacques Dutronc (Il Est Cinq Heures, Paris S'Éveille)". All Music Guide. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  2. Bush, John. "Dutronc". All Music Guide. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  3. 1 2 German, Yuri. "Jacques Dutronc". All Music Guide. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  4. 1 2 Null, Christopher (29 December 2006). "Van Gogh". AMC Network. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  5. 1 2 Deming, Mark. "Et Moi et Moi et Moi: Jacques Dutronc 1966–69". All Music Guide. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  6. Leydier (2010), pp. 36-52
  7. Leydier (2010), p. 68
  8. Leydier (2010), p. 76
  9. Leydier (2010), pp. 81-82
  10. "Benjamin – Mon Ami D'autrefois". Discogs.
  11. Neuhoff, Eric (18 July 2011). "Et moi, et moi, et moi de Jacques Dutronc: La France en chanson". Le Figaro.
  12. "Hits of the World". Billboard. 17 September 1966. p. 44.
  13. Portis, Larry (2004). French Frenzies: A social history of pop music in France. College Station, TX: Virtualbookworm. p. 147.
  14. "Jacques Dutronc biography". RFI music.
  15. "Hits of the World". Billboard. 7 January 1967. p. 39.
  16. "Hits of the World". Billboard. 27 April 1968. p. 53.
  17. "César Awards, France (1977)". IMDB.
  18. Jim Smith (2003). George Lucas. London: Virgin Books, p. 120.
  19. Plus Drole du Cinéma. Paris: Le cherche midi, 2013.
  20. Leydier (2010). p. 185.
  21. Leydier (2010). p. 187.
  22. "Les Meilleures Ventes de CD/Albums depuis 1968". Infodisc.
  23. Leydier (2010). p. 242
  24. "César Awards, France (1999)". IMDB.
  25. "Edition 2001: Palmarès". Festival International du Film de Marrakech. line feed character in |publisher= at position 24 (help)
  26. "César Awards, France (2002)". IMDB.
  27. Conte, Christophe (30 April 2003). "Jacques Dutronc - Madame l'Existence". Les Inrockuptibles.
  28. "Tautou film tops Cesar prize nods". BBC News. 25 January 2005.
  29. "Jacques Dutronc - Et Vous, et Vous, et Vous". All music.
  30. "Les Francis". Mars Distribution.
  31. "Johnny Hallyday, Jacques Dutronc & Eddy Mitchell ŕ Paris-Bercy les 5, 6 et 7 novembre 2014". Chartsinfrance.net. 2014-04-14. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  32. Leydier (2010). p. 184
  33. "Jacques DUTRONC vainqueur des 45 tours". Institut National de l'Audiovisuel.
  34. "Best title". Le Soir. 2 February 1991. p. 28.
  35. "Sylvie Vartan official website". Sony Music.
  36. Larkin, Collin (2006). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 70.
  37. "L'été en musique avec Le Live: -M-". Le Figaro. 12 July 2013.
  38. "Le Responsable/The Responsible Jacque Dutronc Cover". Miles Kane official website.
  39. "Bang Goes the Knighthood". Discogs.
  40. "Gainsbourg Confidential". Discogs.
  41. iTunes - Joyeux anniversaire M'sieur Dutronc by Various Artists
  42. Lescharts.com: Joyeux anniversaire M'sieur Dutronc by Various Artists
  43. Leydier (2010), p. 253
  44. "Françoise Hardy, Thomas Dutronc: Mère-fils, face-à-face", Psychologies, March 2009. Paris: SELMA.
  45. "Jacques Dutronc: "Tintin est bien allé chez les Soviets, Dutronc peut aller chez les cocos !"". L'Humanité. 6 September 2010.
  46. "Jacques Dutronc, émois, émois, et moi". Paris Match. 12 October 2009.
  47. 1 2 "Jacques Dutronc raconte à Vanity Fair son amour secret avec Romy Schneider" ("Jacques Dutronc relates to Vanity Fair his secret affair with Romy Schneider") by Michel Denisot, Vanity Fair, 17 February 2015(in French)
  48. "Jacques Dutronc raconte sa liaison avec Romy Schneider" (Jacques Dutronc talks of his relationship with Romy Schneider") by Khadija Moussou, Elle, 23 January 2014 (in French)
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