Who Are You, Leonie Lousseau? Pt 4 – the new Christophe Bevilacqua biography

I bought Christian Eudeline’s new biography of Christophe (Daniel Bevilacqua) this week – I can’t wait to read it all in detail but in the meantime I’ve been flicking through it and have found there is an interview with Léonie Lousseau and some more information about her.

Christophe Book

You need to buy the book and read it for yourself really – I’ve read Christian Eudeline’s book about Michel Polnareff and that was really well done, so I am sure this is going to be great.

But in the meantime, courtesy of Christophe Portrait du dernier dandy (with a bit of extra research from me) here are a few snippets about Léonie for you:

  • Léonie was in a short film called Goutte-d’Or Story, directed by Jacques Poitrenaud in 1968 – it was 16 minutes long and features Léonie (credited as Martine Léonie) and Francis Coz. From what I can find out (I can’t find the film, sadly), it’s about a girl and a boy who are in love but don’t want to admit it, and then the girl threatens to leave.  I believe Jean-Claude Vannier provided the soundtrack and it might even be a musical but if anyone knows anything more about it, I’d love to know/see it
  • That same year Jacques Poitrenaud’s son Sebastien Poitrenaud had co-written all of the tracks on the Léonie Lousseau EP Candie – Léonie thought the songs made her seem a bit like an irritating little girl
  • Sebastien Poitrenaud, Jean-Claude Vannier and Boris Viard (one of Léonie’s friends), who all collaborated on the Candie EP, also worked together on the Les Fleurs de Pavot LP
  • After the Candie EP wasn’t quite the success hoped for, Léonie worked as a graphic designer (I think this is correct but the French word is maquettiste) at Filipacchi and then eventually asked Sebastien Poitrenaud if she could pick her own songs to record.  She found En Alabama amongst his tapes and thought it was made for her
  • She designed some record sleeves for Gilbert Montagné (The Morning Comes) and Dynastie Crisis (Litanie pour la fin d’un jour)

Dynastie Crisis Gilbert Montagne

  • Léonie wrote some lyrics for Christophe’s Good bye, je reviendrai when she saw him in the record label offices playing his guitar and struggling with the lyrics
  • Afterwards they wrote Christophe’s track Main dans la main together and then Léonie’s track Lennon
  • The musicians peforming on the En Alabama 7″ were Dominique Perrier and Didier Batard
  • Dominique Perrier said that everyone was in love with Léonie
  • Léonie wasn’t involved during the recording of the music and just came in to record her vocals – she found it frustrating and with all the people involved in the process, with a variety of interests in the project, she found it too complicated and thought the recording studio environment was too masculine/macho
  • The b-side of So Long, John (1975) called L’Autre Petit Prince was inspired by Christophe as was an unreleased track called Les Lumières de la ville
  • According to Christian Eudeline, Léonie has made brief appearances in a few films (regular readers of Hero Culte will have read about some others on here), including Le Mouton enragé (dir Michel Deville, 1974) which I have already written about here on Hero CulteL’Italien des roses (dir Charles Matton, 1972), which I can’t find a copy of, and La Philosophie dans le boudoir (dir Jacques Scandelari, 1971), which you can find on You Tube if you want to see it

Now, moving away from the bullet points, I should say I have watched La Philosophie dans le boudoir in its entirety and I’m not 100% sure if I have identified Léonie correctly so you will need to look out for her yourself.  Warning, it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea as it is based on the Marquis de Sade’s play, there’s a lot of nudity and titillation.  It’s incredibly stylised with some attractive make-up, wardrobe and artistic direction but the nub and the gist of the whole thing is that a naive young man with a monobrow is in love with a stony-faced woman who has a very receding hairline.  Despite this, the monobrow man pursues her to a mansion to win her away from the older, hairy man she intends to marry.  It involves lots of orgy scenes, a hedgehog running across the body of a wasted party-goer, a woman pleasuring herself with an octopus and various other seafood (some of them still just about alive) and a man smothering himself in cream and caviar, and all this despite the fact that not one person in the room is paying him any attention whatsoever. For shame!

I thought I’d spotted Léonie a couple of times but it’s hard to say as there are so many people involved and the camera doesn’t stay still for very long.  So instead of having some photos of Léonie for you, I have just picked the prettiest lady I could find with a little beauty spot, like Léonie’s:

Leonie Beyond Love and Evil 2Leonie Beyond Love and Evil 1

She’s pretty like Léonie, but it’s not her.  Okay?

My Favourite Stuff: Leonie En Alabama Japanese single

I was very pleased to add this lovely Japanese Léonie single to my collection.  I had seen a photograph of it before on a French vinyl database site but I never thought I would manage to track a copy down.  I’m not sure if the Disques Motors version is in stereo, but this one is mono.  The running times are exactly the same, so there’s no apparent difference in the versions.  The photograph on the cover is another shot from the Jardin Anglais photo shoot – a nicer one, I think.  The lyrics are provided on the back of the record sleeve.

Label – Victor World Group

Catalogue No – JET-2092 (VIR – 1031) (MT-4014)

Matrix / Runout: Side 1  MT 4014 A K11 1+ 3

Matrix / Runout: Side 2  MT 4014 B 11 +

Leonie Japanese001Leonie Japanese002Leonie Japanese003Leonie Japanese004

I have also found a little article in English referencing Léonie – it’s from Billboard 3 February 1968.  Makes you wonder whether Philips made Léonie dress like that for the sleeve of the EP just to cash in on the Bonnie & Clyde craze.  Funny thing is, I have a French music show from that period which was entirely Bonnie & Clyde themed (Serge Gainsbourg plays Bonnie & Clyde on a ukulele as he has no Bardot to duet with!) but Léonie does not make an appearance on the show.

Leonie Billboard 3 Feb 1968

 

 

Who are you, Leonie Lousseau?

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:

Leonie

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):

Leonie Paul 1Leonie Paul 2Leonie Paul 3

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”:

leonie_gants_blancs_backleonie_gants_blancs_front leonie_gants_blancs_labelA leonie_gants_blancs_labelBleonie_spanish_frontleonie_spanish_reverseleonie_spanish_labelA_webleonie_spanish_labelB_webLeonie004Leonie001Leonie003Leonie002

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:

Leonie Candie001 Leonie Candie002

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:

Leonie001

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”:

Leonie002Leonie003Leonie004Leonie005Leonie006Leonie007Leonie So Long John001Leonie So Long John002
French pop ad012 French pop ad013 French pop ad014
Léonie doesn’t seem to have done very much since 1975 but she did appear on some advertising jingles for Eram in 1978, which can be found on the Gotainer Poil à la pub CD from 1990.

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:

Leonie fleur 1 Leonie fleur 2 Leonie fleur 3 Leonie fleur 4 Leonie fleur 5 Leonie so long john 1 Leonie so long john 2 Leonie so long john 3

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

— 0 —

Hats off to Matthew Meek for the Salut Les Copains article and many thanks to Dave T for introducing me to Léonie’s music.

French pop ad010

My Favourite Stuff: Leonie sings Lennon in Spanish

Where has Léonie been all my life?  I have a bit of a soft spot for female singers with a fragile voice, like RoBERT and Jane Birkin, and
Léonie is definitely in that ball park.  So, I’ve only just discovered Léonie recently when my boyfriend bought me her single En Alabama because it was a collaborative project with both Jean-Claude Vannier (I LOVE him!) and Christophe (I LOVE him!).  Turns out that En Alabama just happened to be based on one of my favourite J-C V compositions, so that coupled with Léonie’s sweet vocals and the fact that the very special Christophe was heavily involved just meant it was a love affair that had to happen sooner or later.

Anyway, a week or so later whilst on holiday I found a single that Léonie wrote the lyrics for and then when I got home she was on a TV show on Melody TV:  Système 2 (15/06/75) singing an extract from her single So Long, John:

Leonie Systeme 2 1Léonie with Laurent Vergez, Daniel Seff and Didier Marouani

Leonie Systeme 2 2Leonie Systeme 2 3

It seems like she was fated to be my new favourite singer!  And it’s still very early days with my Léonie collection but I have now found this little beauty:

leonie_spanish_frontYes, this is not only a Spanish issue of the Lennon / Lilith single (again a collaboration with Christophe, but instead of Jean-Claude Vannier, on this occasion she worked with Karl-Heinz Schäfer – with great results too), but the A-side is also sung in Spanish!  It’s a beautiful single and I am so very happy to have it in my collection.  What is more, it seems that Lennon/Lilith also came out as a separate Spanish release in its standard version.  Check out the back cover:

leonie_spanish_reverseleonie_spanish_labelA_webleonie_spanish_labelB_web

I will definitely be writing more about Léonie very, very soon.  It’s a whirlwind romance for me and Léonie but I think it’s a love that will last!