Michel Berger: his last love, his last secrets

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IHe knew them in their beginnings, when Michel Berger had found in France Gall the singer he was waiting for… At the time, Yves Bigot was a rock journalist, he officiated at Europe 1 when the couple came to perform and got in touch. Yves Bigot will continue his career in the front row, a musical decade in osmosis with the French, marked by numerous hits, “Resiste”, “He played the piano standing up”, “Calypso”, “Babacar”, “Ella, Elle l’a “… In the early 1990s, however, the duo broke up, Michel wanted to divorce and start a new life. In a new version of his biography dedicated to the singer, Yves Bigot returns to the last secrets of the musician.

Point : Who is Beatrice Grimm, who is nearing the end of Michel Berger’s life?

Yves fanatic: When he meets her, she is not thirty years old. He meets her at a dinner hosted by Jean-Paul Baudecroux, the head of NRJ, which is also attended by France Gall. She is a German top model, tall blonde, blue eyes, ex-lover of Rod Stewart, who works with the biggest photographers. She frequents the artistic world and wants to go to music.

The story could have ended there, but they meet again…

Fate gets involved as she lives in Paris on the corner of the passage where Michel and France have their studio in the Batignolles district… They talk, they know each other. And to see each other again in 1991, when Michel is in Los Angeles to assemble and produce an American rock band. He searches for voices, auditions and calls Beatrice… She rehearses “You’ve Got a Friend” with him, a great hit sung by James Taylor. This is where his story really begins, which will last almost 18 months, until the sudden death of the singer in August 1992.

We have the impression that, at that time, Michel Berger was at a crossroads, both emotionally and professionally…

You are at a crossroads in your life. He had confided to some of his friends that he was having more and more difficulties finding new ideas in music, that he wanted to change to image and cinema; he also started making music videos. He had in his drawers a movie that he called Cherokeethen Totemthe story, apparently, of Indians who get lost in the urban jungle… He had just sold his music editions to start producing, first with this rock band, but also with the English version of starmaniabaptized Magnatefor which he was looking for international voices between Los Angeles and London.

Did you consider leaving France Gall for Béatrice?

That’s what the evidence suggests. In any case, this is what Beatrice Grimm wanted and expected. And obviously, Michel planned to settle in the United States. He was looking for a school for his children, but he was also prospecting in Switzerland… You have to understand that Michel compartmentalized his life and his conversations with everyone very well. He managed his relationships and his projects his way, very discreetly. I can very well imagine him exploring various hypotheses at the time.

READ ALSOFrance Gall and Michel Berger: love in music

Did France Gall know of the existence of this relationship?

Yes, she knew about it, she talked about it with certain close relatives, but above all there was no need for this matter to be rumored. It was necessary to preserve the children, but also the image of the entertainment world of the very popular duo, an ideal couple, untouchable in the eyes of the French. But France also had her own adventures… And she no longer liked what Michel was doing at that time, she criticized him a lot.

Some even go so far as to say that he was so torn by these life choices, that he didn’t want to decide and got carried away…

However, at that time they released a new album, Double game

A curious album where there is no love song, the album at the end somewhere… For the first time, France is a co-producer, it makes him drool, everyone agrees that there was a bad atmosphere during the recording and the promotion What it does not mean Had the pair not been given another chance, it’s hard to say what Michel would have done in the end. He left suddenly, at 44, an age at which one should not die… The day before he had just received a phone call from Luc Plamondon telling him that “The World Is Stone”, the hit of starmania Covered in English by Cyndi Lauper, it had entered the British charts. Her wildest dream came true…

Change of private life, new professional challenges… Some say that stress ended up killing him.

It is true that Michel was at a turning point in his life. No doubt he was plagued by a form of guilt: his daughter, Pauline, is sick and doomed, she has cystic fibrosis, it was not the time to leave… Leaving France Gall is also breaking off a long and complex intimate and artistic relationship, it must have It was unbearable for him. We must also add the production of Magnate, which occupies his time and his thoughts… All his friends say that he had changed physically: they found him exhausted, stressed, beginning to feel bad. Some even go so far as to say that he was so torn by these life choices, that he didn’t want to decide and got carried away…

READ ALSODanzig – France Gall, our little sister

Added to this is also the death of his father, Professor Jean Hamburger, six months before his own death. With which there was a strong dispute…

We cannot understand Michel Berger without knowing this story: this father, scientific authority, triple academic, pioneer of nephrology, but frankly undrinkable, who leaves his family overnight on the pretext of amnesia after a hard operation . He bluntly says that he no longer recognizes them and begins his life anew. Michel is six years old, it is an emotional earthquake, both for him and for his family. He will always live with that feeling of abandonment, the idea that everything is ephemeral, temporary, that everything can stop. When his father died, they saw each other again, but never connected again. His death cannot leave him indifferent, it means that their relationship can no longer be repaired.

Wasn’t Jean Hamburger proud of her son’s success?

He hated when people reminded him that he was Michel Berger’s father, because he felt that he looked down on him… For him, having a child in show business must have been an absolute shame! Jean Hamburger was a brilliant guy, but so polar, condescending, almost disembodied. He came to disinherit his children, one more violence for Michel.

To leave France Gall was also to reproduce somewhere the abandonment of the father…

It must have cost him a lot to leave everything, he felt responsible. You have to understand that Michel was a straight man, with a true Protestant ethic, endowed with a true moral compass, all of that had to work on him… The fact is that he died in Saint-Tropez in the arms of France. , and not with Beatrice. who will not be at the funeral, unlike Véronique Sanson, invited by the family… For Beatrice it is also a total collapse, they were very much in love: in her apartment in Santa Monica, she suddenly finds Michel’s things, his clothes, his piano, she doesn’t know what to do with them…

What remains of Michel Berger today?

l’opera rock starmaniathe album rock and roll attitude by Johnny, “Personal Message” with Françoise Hardy, a magnificent song… And this artistic couple with France Gall: they were in perfect symbiosis, musical complicity, identical phrasing… Michel turned them into spokespersons for young French women, of a whole generation. This is what will remain.

Read : Miguel Bergerby Yves Bigot, Editions du Seuil.

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