French artist biography: France Gall
France Gall is a French yé-yé singer, born in Paris on 9 October 1947. France has had a very prolific music career, having released 11 studio albums. A French counterpart to Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera, she produced feel-good pop hits that mainly appealed to European teenage audiences from the early '60s through to the late eighties. It was the collaboration with her husband Michel Berger that really rocketed Gall the height of fame. The winning duo's success ended with Berger's death in 1992, but Gall continued to forge a name for herself, and kept the memory of her late husband alive in subsequent tributes and charity work.
Gall learnt to play the piano and guitar at an early age, and on the back of her father Robert Gall's musical success, released her first single Ne sois pas si bête in 1963 when she was just fifteen. It was an instant hit with the French public, selling an impressive 200,000 copies. Gall left school and recorded a second single in 1964 entitled 'Sacré Charlemonge', written by her father. This also proved immensely popular, and France successfully made a name for herself on the trendy yé-yé scene, fusing rock 'n' roll with French variété.
In 1965 Gall met Serge Gainsbourg, a successful song-writer, who composed a number of hits for her in the '60s, including Poupée de cire, poupée de son, which Gall entered the Eurovision Song Contest with in 1965. She was presenting Luxembourg, not France, but this did not deter the French public's adoration of her, and Poupée de cire, poupée de son became a major hit in France.
In 1967 Gall released her third single, Bébé Requin, co-written by Jo Dassin. Following the success of this song, she took a break from the French music scene. However, she returned in 1974 with her massive comeback single La Déclaration, written by Michel Berger. The first album featuring songs written by Berger, France Gall, was released in 1975, and also included the best-selling singles Samba Mambo and Comment lui dire?. Gall and Berger became extremely close, and married the following year.
In 1977 France recorded the album Dancing Disco, featuring the disco track Musique and the balladic Si maman si. In 1978 Berger wrote the famous rock opera Starmania, in which Gall was cast the lead role of Cristal, starring alongside Daniel Balavoine, Diane Dufresne and Fabienne Thibault. The show was a huge hit with French audiences, and the Starmania album shot to the top spot in the French charts following its première at the Palais des Sports in Paris in 1979.
Following another short break from recording, the early eighties saw France record two more albums; Tout pour la musique in 1981 and Débranche in 1984. Gall took a keen interest in charity work, and in 1985 herself and Berger were invited to record parts for the charity single Chanteurs sans frontières along with other influential French artists. She performed live for two months straight at the Zénith in Paris that same year, attracting fans from all over Europe. An African inspired album, Babacar, was released in 1987, and an extensive national tour followed.
Gall recorded a joint collaboration with Berger in 1992, and was a massive success. The album spawned more hit singles for Gall, such as Laissez passez les rêves and Sentimental et léger. Sadly, Berger died in August that year, at just 44 years of age. Gall continued to perform Berger's songs, and in 1994 gave a stripped-down acoustic performance at the prestigious Salle Pleyel, a venue that usually housed classical concerts.
In 1995 Gall released France, an album dedicated to Berger's memory, and featured songs he had originally performed as a solo artist, including the notable Que l'amour est bizzarre and Les Princes des Villes. Gall withdrew from her recording career for the final time in 1997 due to the untimely death of her 19-year-old daughter, although she made occasional stage performances and television appearances in the coming years. In 2006 she publicly supported a campaign to combat violence against women, and in 2007 hosted a TV tribute to Berger in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of his death.