Jean-Michel Jarre

Jean-Michel Jarre is a French keyboardist and sound technician who has been active since the start of the 1970s, recording first as a soundtrack composer. He gained global prominence with his 1976 release Oxygène, which brought electronic music to a wider audience. He released more than 15 further titles over next quarter-century, mostly on Disques Dreyfus.


Jean-Michel Jarre was born in Lyon, France, on August 24, 1948. His father, composer/conductor Maurice Jarre (1924–2009), left the family and moved stateside when Jean-Michel was five. Jean-Michel was half-raised by his maternal grandparents. His grandfather was an oboeist and inventor who designed the audio mixer at Radio Lyon.

The young Jarre studied classical piano but his early influences came from street performers and jazz musicians on the Parisian club scene. During the mid-1960s, while studying music theory at the Lycée Michelet, he earned money as a painter and had his works exhibited at the Lyon Gallery.

Jarre’s first band was called Mystère IV. His next band, The Dustbins, appeared in the 1967 movie Des garçons et des filles and self-issued the 1968 single “Let Me Take Your Hands” (b/w “I Feel So Down”). In 1969, Jarre briefly joined the Groupe de Recherches Musicales, where he first encountered the Moog modular synthesizer and the work of Colognese composer Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Jarre set up his first recording studio in his flat on Rue de la Trémoille. It consisted of a EMS VCS 3, an EMS Synthi AKS, and two Revox tape machines. One of his earliest compositions, “Happiness Is a Sad Song,” was used in a 1969 exhibition at Reims’ Maison de la Culture (Cultural House).

Jarre debuted as a solo recording artist with the single “La Cage” (b/w “Erosmachine”), released on Pathé in 1971. 


Discography:

  • “La Cage” / “Erosmachine” (1970)
  • Deserted Palace (1972)
  • Les granges brûlées (OST, 1973)
  • Oxygène (1976)
  • Equinoxe (1978)
  • Les Chants Magnétiques (1981)
  • The Concerts in China (live, 1982)
  • Musique pour supermarché (1983)
  • Zoolook (1984)
  • Rendez-vous (1986)
  • En Concert: Houston / Lyon (live, 1987)
  • Revolutions (1988)
  • Waiting for Cousteau (1990)
  • Chronologie (1993)
  • Oxygene 7-13 (1997)
  • Metamorphoses (2000)

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