10 August 2018

Jacques Dutronc

With his nonchalant playboy image and his legendary irony, singer and actor Jacques Dutronc (1943) is one of the most popular performers in the French-speaking world. He wrote successful songs for his later wife Françoise Hardy in the 1960s before moving on to pursue a successful solo career. In 1973, he branched out into film acting, and earned a Cesar for Best Actor in 1992 for the leading role in Van Gogh (1992). Dutronc is often portrayed with a gauloise or a big cigar in the mouth.

Jacques Dutronc
French postcard by Publistar, Marseille, no. 1416. Promotion card for Disques Vogue. Photo: Bernard Leloup (Salut Les Copains).

Jacques Dutronc
Belgian postcard by Edt Decker, Brussels, no. A 119. Photo: Disques Vogue.

Jacques Dutronc by Tibet
Belgian collectors Card by Clark, Brussels. Illustration: Tibet.

Jacques Dutronc
French promotion card for Disques Vogue. Photo: Gilbert Moreau.

Jacques Dutronc
French postcard by Editions F. Nugeron, Tessancourt, no. CP 374. Design: G. Ochecki. Caption: Merde in France.

Openly Provocative Style


Jacques Dutronc was born in Paris in 1943. He grew up in a highly musical environment at home as his father, an engineer, was a passionate music fan.

Jacques learned to play the piano at an early age and soon progressed to the guitar, which would become the favourite instrument of his teenage years. Between 1963 and 1964, Dutronc played guitar for the yé-yé group El Toro et les Cyclones. During this time he also appeared as backing guitarist for 60s star Eddy Mitchell, the former lead singer of Les Chaussettes Noires.

His teenage music career was cut short, when he was sent off to do his miltary service in Germany. After his return, he landed a job as an assistant of Jacques Wolfsohn at Vogue Records. He arranged songs for several lesser known artists such as Zou Zou and Cleo.

Dutronc later wrote a whole string of hits for the popular teenage star Françoise Hardy including Va pas prendre un tambour and C'est le temps de l'amour. He teamed up with writer Jacques Lanzmann, and one of their first commissions was for the pop singer Benjamin.

After Benjamin's first EP failed to perform, Vogue Records dismissed the singer. After hearing one of the demos that Dutronc had produced, his boss declared that Jacques should perform the record for release. This single, Et moi, et moi, et moi (1966) turned Dutronc into a star. (In 1973, an English version Alright Alright Alright became an international hit for the group Mungo Jerry.)

The French public adored the singer’s nonchalant stage persona and his openly provocative style. In an age where most pop stars were growing hippy beards and dressing in Afghan coats and bell-bottom jeans, Dutronc’s tailored suits and chic silk ties were guaranteed to make him stand out from the crowd.

The 10-year collaboration of Lanzmann and Dutronc produced several of Dutronc’s best-known hits. His songs combine American and British musical influences with French lyrical themes. Many of his early songs feature a British garage sound comparable to that of Ray Davies of The Kinks.

Dutronc is distinctive for his mocking attitude toward late 1960s French youth culture. His biggest hit was Il est cinq heures, Paris s'eveille, in which he paints an evocative portrait of the French capital in the early morning hours.

Jacques Dutronc, El Toro et les Cyclones
El Toro et les Cyclones. French postcard by Éditions Publistar (E.P.M.B.), no. 759. Photo: Disques Vogue.

El Toro et les Cyclones was a French rock group, active in the early 1960s. Their songs included French versions of foreign hits like L'Oncle John (Long Tall Sally) in 1961 and Le Vagabond (The Wanderer) in 1962. The group members were Daniel Dray (singer), Jacques Dutronc (solo guitar), Hadi Kalafate (bass guitar) and Charles Benarroch (drums). In 1962, Benarroch left the group to form Les Fantômes, and was replaced by André Crudo.

Jacques Dutronc
French promotion card by Disques Vogue, no. 1416. Photo: Paul Koll P.P.P.

Jacques Dutronc
French collectors card in the series 'Hit Collection' by Figurine Panini, no. 37. Photo: Vogue.

Jacques Dutronc
French postcard by PSG, no. 1345. Promotion card for Disques Vogue.

Jacques Dutronc
French postcard, no. 3.

Hip Retro Clubs


In 1973, Jacques Dutronc began a second career as a film actor. He made his debut in Antoine et Sébastien/ Antoine and Sebastian (Jean-Marie Périer, 1973) with François Périer.

Next he played Romy Schneider’s husband in L'important c'est d'aimer/That Most Important Thing: Love (Andrzej Żuławski, 1974). The film was an international hit. He also appeared with her in Mado (Claude Sautet, 1976).

Another popular film was Violette & François (Jacques Rouffio, 1977) in which he co-starred with Isabelle Adjani.

In the 1980s, Dutronc focused on his acting career, and worked sometimes with major directors as Claude Lelouch at A Nous Deux/ An Adventure for Two (1979), Jean-Luc Godard at Sauve qui peut (la vie)/Slow Motion (1980), and Barbet Schroeder at Tricheurs/Cheaters (1984).

Most of his films in this period were mediocre though. Then he was awarded the Cesar for his unusual portrayal of Vincent van Gogh in the final 67 days of his life in Van Gogh (Maurice Pialat, 1992).

He co-starred with Isabelle Huppert in the suspense thriller Merci pour le chocolat/Thanks for the Chocolate (Claude Chabrol, 2000), with Sandrine Bonnaire in C'est la vie/Thats Life (Jean-Pierre Améris, 2001), and with Charlotte Rampling in the comedy Embrassez qui vous voudrez/Summer Things (Michel Blanc, 2002).

Since then he was seen in the thriller Joseph et la fille'/Joseph and the Girl (Xavier De Choudens, 2010), and most recently in the comedy Les Francis (Fabrice Begotti, 2014).

In 2005, he won an honorary César for his whole film career. Jacques Dutronc currently lives in the town of Monticello on the island of Corsica. In 1967 he started to live together with singer Francoise Hardy. They married in 1981 and have a son, Thomas (1973), who grew up to become a successful jazz and pop musician.

Dutronc recorded in 1995 the new album called A part ça. He also enjoyed a resurgence of popular interest in his music. Since the early Dutronc songs had a classic late-sixties freakbeat backing, his songs were played in the hip retro clubs of the UK and US.

In 2010 Dutronc went on a successful new tour with more than 80 concerts. 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).

In 1998, Jacques Dutromc began a relationship with a stylist whom he had met on the set of the film Place Vendôme. Dutronc and Hardy are now separated, but remain married and see each other regularly. He currently lives in the town of Monticello, Corsica.

Jacques Dutronc
French postcard by Editions Bertrand, Paris, in the series Les Années 60. Photo: Patrick Bertrand.

Jacques Dutronc
German promotion card by Deutsche Schallplatten Gmbh. Photo: Wolfgang Kühn, Duisburg.

Jacques Dutronc
Belgian postcard by Edt Decker, Brussels, no. A 119.

Jacques Dutronc
French postcard, no. 202.

Jacques Dutronc
Dutch collectors card in the series 'Filmsterren: een Portret' by Edito Service, 1993. Photo: Collection Christophe L. Caption: Jacques Dutronc, 1980, Frankrijk.

Sources: Yuri German (IMDb), Wikipedia (English and French) and IMDb.

1 comment:

Beth Niquette said...

What a perfectly good looking fellow he was. I enjoyed reading this blog entry, Bob. You do such a good job with research. Fascinating!