I have recently discovered the French singer Léonie but she’s a bit of an enigma so I thought I would try and pull together all of the information I could find out to see if I could discover anything about this wonderful singer.
I couldn’t find any articles about Léonie in my collection of French music magazines, so I asked my friend and fellow French music fan Matthew Meek if he had anything as a starting place. Luckily for me Matthew said he had a small article from Salut Les Copains magazine and he sent me this lovely little thing:
Her name is Léonie. Or Léonie Lousseau (according to her EP) or Léonie Angers (according to SLC) or even Martine (according to an anonymous comment on http://lesjuvenilesapposees.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/initials-ll.html). So that’s clear then?!
Born 8 May 1950 in Saint-Malo.
Back in the early 1970s when she was in SLC she weighed 45kg (7 stone 1 lb) and she was 1.63M in height (approx 5 foot 4”).
The SLC magazine gives her address as 9 square Moncey, 75009 Paris, France – not quite sure why they’d give her address out but there you go! Anyway, this was about 40 years ago now so I’m pretty sure she’s not there anymore, although you never know… [Postscript: I have since discovered this is the address for Disques Somethin’ Else, which is a subsidiary of Disques Motors, so there you go!]
She has blue eyes according to SLC and laughs a lot.
She also worked as an artist or designer (dessinatrice) at SLC and MAT according to the SLC article.
She went to high school in Vitry, where her parents lived, and then studied at Sèvres where they had art and music departments.
She posed for some fashion photos.
She acted in some of Charles Matton’s short films – I can’t find these films, or any mention of Léonie in any cast lists, but I am assuming that they could be the ones mentioned here: La Pomme ou l’histoire d’une histoire (1966) and Activités vinicoles dans le Vouvray (1967) and Mai 68 ou les violences policières (1968). Zouzou was in La Pomme… along with other friends and Matton family members, so it would be great if Léonie was in the film too – I would love to see it in any case but haven’t yet found any footage, just some drawings from the film (which mixes moving image, photography and drawings). Léonie would have met Charles Matton (aka Gabriel Pasqualini) when he was working on illustrations for MAT. He’s a really interesting chap with or without the Léonie link – he was a great artist and sculptor and he made amazing miniature reproductions of interiors of studios with the most intricate detail. He also directed Spermula and did the cover for Sylvie Vartan’s Par Amour, Par Pitié. Check him out and if you find the short films Léonie was in, let me know!
Aside from these short films, Léonie was also in a film I have seen: Paul directed by Diourka Medveczky in 1969. She’s in a small role alongside some great actors (Bernadette Lafont, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Jean-Pierre Kalfon) – she plays a member of a vegetarian community and I’m pretty sure this is her with short dark hair in the film (hard to tell as the supporting actors are rarely in the frame for very long):
It’s a film with very little story and hardly any dialogue but the cinematography is beautiful and so the film contains some great images and is a pleasure to watch. Furthermore, you can get it with English subtitles fairly cheaply on Amazon in the Diourka-Lafont box set. Diourka Medveczky is also a sculptor, so it seems Léonie liked hanging out with the arty types.
I don’t know whether Léonie was good at networking or whether it was just a coincidence but she worked on another film project with Bernadette Lafont and Jean-Pierre Kalfon in 1973 – Les gants blancs du diable (The White Gloves of the Devil), directed by László Szabó. This time she wasn’t acting, but she sang a song (Couleurs) on the film’s soundtrack. The soundtrack was written Karl-Heinz Schäfer – who also worked extensively with Christophe (and other Les Disques Motors artistes, such as Dynastie Crisis) as conductor for strong arrangements – and he went on to work with Léonie again on the Lennon 7”:
In the SLC article Léonie says it was meeting Christophe and Thierry Vincent (ex singer with the group Les Pingouins) that led to her recording her single En Alabama – the article seems to overlook her previous incarnation as Léonie Lousseau and the 1968 EP Je m’en vais faire un tour dans ma campagne:
Dominique Blanc-Francard (who was the bassist with Les Pingouins and brother of Patrice Blanc-Francard “C’est Pop2!”) co-wrote a track with Léonie, Banal, which was the b-side to his solo single C’est beau les mandolines of 1975:
But going back to Léonie Lousseau, I should say that one of the tracks on her 1968 EP was written by Jean-Claude Vannier (Le Cinérama) and he also appeared on the EP with his orchestra as Léonie’s accompaniment. Léonie must be a lovely lady because he worked with her again in 1971 on the En Alabama 7”, again in 1972 on the Le jardin anglais 7”, and again in 1975 on the So Long, John 7”:
Recently another Léonie single from 1979 was “found” – Elisabetti – and you can find out more about this on the Blow Up Doll website here and listen to the A-side here and the B-side here (note the gorgeous photograph of Léonie to accompany the track).
Aside from providing the Elisabetti tracks, the YouTube Channel Maarnie47 also has two TV clips for So Long John and La fleur de serre – massive thanks to Maarnie 47 for sharing these rarities:
But what else do we know about Léonie? Having written lyrics for Christophe’s Main dans la main and Good Bye, je reviendrai in the earlier 1970s, I have also read elsewhere that Léonie wrote lyrics for the b-side (Les Echevelées) of a Philippe Lavil single Heure Locale in 1976.
She has also, supposedly, provided inspiration for others as she is said to be La fille de la véranda from the song written by Étienne Roda-Gil for Julien Clerc – Roda-Gil had co-written Wahala Manitou for Léonie around about that time so it’s not out of the question but I’m not sure if this is verifiable information or just an assumption.
I believe I read somewhere in the Christophe fora something about Léonie leaving the music industry after her brother’s death but again I don’t know where they sourced their information. The Christophe fans do also mention that Léonie attended some Christophe concerts in the past year or so and they seem to be hoping this is a sign she might collaborate with Christophe again at some point. Could be wishful thinking but you never know – maybe Christophe can introduce Léonie to Alan Vega and they can do a duet?!!
There is also mention elsewhere on the internet of a 7” record from South Africa called Wonderful Happy but the website didn’t have any images of a record or cover to prove that it is anything to do with Léonie. But with Léonie being such a mystery it’s always possible – let’s hope that there is more to discover out there. In the meantime I am trying to get my hands on the vinyl I do know about but don’t yet have and good quality copies of the TV appearances in full as well.
But if you haven’t already seen my little write-up on Léonie’s brief appearance on Système 2 from 15 June 1975, which I do have in my collection, here it is.
I’ll keep updating this article as and when I get new stuff or find out more information, but for now here is a vague discography without dates as these seem to vary from site to site:
Je m’en vais faire un tour dans la campagne / Le fleur de serre / Le cinérama / Candie (Fontana, 460.251)
En Alabama / Wahala Manitou 7” (Les Disques Motors, MT 4014)
En Alabama / Wahala Manitou 7” (Victor World Group, JET-2092, Japan)
Lilith / Lennon 7” (Les Disques Motors, MT 4020)
Lennon / Lilith 7” (Accion, AC 10.014 Spain)
Lennon (sung in Spanish) / Lilith 7” Accion, AC 10.025 Spain)
Couleurs 7″ the track is from Les gants blancs du diable soundtrack / the b-side is instrumental tracks by Karl Heinz Schäfer, Cardoni and Les gants blancs (Eden Roc, ER 62001)
Le jardin anglais / Mozart (Les Disques Motors, MT 4030)
So Long, John / L’Autre petit prince 7” (RCA Victor, 42014)
Elisabetti / Y’a rien a faire avec les hommes (Ariola, 100 633–100)
Gotainer Poil à la pub CD (Flarenasch, 472 040) – Léonie does 2 jingles for Eram
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Hats off to Matthew Meek for the Salut Les Copains article and many thanks to Dave T for introducing me to Léonie’s music.