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Subject: Jacques Higelin, French rock star

Dead at 77
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Date Posted: Sunday, April 08, 04:36:08pm

French rock star Jacques Higelin died on Friday morning at the age of 77. In a career that spanned more than half a century, he recorded 29 albums and appeared in about 30 films. He was known for his support for left-wing causes.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe hailed the "madness that kept him company and never betrayed him" in a tweet that paid tribute to his talents as a poet and performer after the news of Higelin's death broke on Friday.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, whose election campaign Higelin supported, expressed condolences to his wife, Aziza, and children, Arthur, Kên and Izia.

Rail worker father

Born in a village near Paris during World War II, Higelin was encouraged in his musical and theatrical interests by his father, Paul, a rail worker who played the piano.

Having left school at 14, he started his career in the theatre, where he was deeply impressed by jazzman Sidney Bechet, by then a French resident, when playing a small role in a musical Nouvelle Orléans (New Orleans).

In the 1960s he took drama courses, winning the François Périer prize.

But he was also obliged to do military service in Germany and Algeria, where he performed for officers and met musician Areski Belkacem, with whom he went on to cut his first two records.

Back in France he started performing with singer Brigitte Fontaine and the pair became known for their anarchic performances and left-wing politics.

Left-wing politics

By the end of the 60s, Higelin was performing with cutting-edge artists like the Art Ensemble of Chicago and strongly committed to left-wing politics, publicly supporting the May 68 strikes and protests and snubbing mainstream media outlets.

His political commitment led him to perform on Paris's Place de la République when France's first Socialist president, François Mitterrand, was elected amid left-wing euphoria.

He also gave concerts in support of undocumented immigrants and supported the homeless campaign, Droit au Logement (Right to Housing).

In the 1970s Higelin travelled and withdrew to communes in the south of France, while still managing to record his first solo album, Jacques Crabouif Higelin.

Rock, Youssou N'Dour, Mory Kanté

Musically he progressed from the café-concert-style to rock in the 1970s under the influence, notably, of David Bowie.

His stage appearances became more and more ambitious, sometimes leading critics to say he had overreached himself and accuse him of a tendency to kitsch while they praised his charisma and his poetic talents.

Higelin was fascinated by African music, touring Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) and Senegal in the 1980s and bringing African musicians like Youssou N'Dour and Mory Kanté to France to perform with him.

In 2000 he toured the US in duo with Mahut, leading the New York Times to comment on his "radical politics" and say "his music offers a continent of charm".

Higelin's three children all followed him into performance - the oldest, Arthur H, is now a well-known singer, his son Kên is a director and his daughter, Izia, is an actress.

He had experienced health problems since 2010, leading to concerts being cancelled and hospitalisations.

His family announced his death on 6 April 2018.


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ImdbLinkSunday, April 08, 04:37:34pm

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