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Jean-Michel Jarre - All about the musician (full biography)

All about the legendary king of electronic music...

The complete story of electronics pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre!

Jean-Michel Jarre was a French composer, performer, and producer. Visionary, innovator, ambassador of culture... Any of the countless facts about this man inevitably reflects his importance in music history. "JMJ is a living legend, the "godfather of electronic music" as he is often called... When the musician released his landmark album "OXYGENE" in 1976, he opened a new chapter in music history... The record sold over 18 million copies worldwide! And it was it that laid the foundation for his exceptional career. His groundbreaking work spawned a true cult following and the fastest growing trend the music industry has ever witnessed: namely, the rise of electronic music.

Jean-Michel's music has always been consistent with his firm conviction that progress can only be achieved through daring deviations from the norm. Born into the family of the famous composer and film music director Maurice Jarre, JMJ studied harmony and counterpoint, became a student of the great musicologist Pierre Schaeffer and began to make his own creative steps boldly balancing between spherical-abstract and very direct melodic basis... The musician was able to recreate the poetry of encounter and connection: between people, between handwork and high technology, between organic and artificial, between wisdom and vision.

Early years...

Musician Jean Michel Jarre
Musician Jean Michel

The musician's early works were largely unsuccessful and gave little indication of what he was to do... Trying to find his own voice, he wrote for various singers (including Françoise Ardy) and films.

Seeking to push electronic music away from its minimalist foundations as well as from the formal abstractions of its most experimental practitioners, he slowly developed the orchestrated melodism of his 1976 breakthrough work Oxygène, a huge commercial hit that took second place in Britain. Jean-Michel was born in Lyon, France, in 1948. His father was a popular composer. The man soon left for America, leaving his family behind... So, Jarre was raised by his mother and grandparents. The boy was inspired to build a musical career after watching performances by street performers. Under his mother's guidance, he began taking music lessons. He was also a skilled artist and made money selling his paintings as a child!

In 1967 the musician played in The Dustbins: he sought to combine the sound of different instruments, such as electric guitar and flute, adding to it all tape effects... He continued to experiment with the Groupe de Recherches Musicales. The first commercial release was La Cage & Erosmachine.

The main stages of creativity...

Jean Michel Jarre in the studio
Jean Michel Jarre in the studio

After setting up a small studio, Jean-Michel released his debut single "La Cage" in 1971. The following year, he released his debut studio album Deserted Palace. However, this did not bring him popularity and did not affect his career in any way. His second "Les Granges Brûlées", released in 1973, also failed. Despite the failure, Jarr continued to fight. And not in vain! His third "Oxygène" (1976) became a huge hit and made him a popular musician internationally! It peaked at number one on the French Albums Chart. It also reached the top ten in several countries, as well as on the US Billboard 200, where it peaked at number 78. It was a resounding success despite mixed reviews from critics…

Two years later the musician released his fourth studio album "Équinoxe". It also succeeded, although it was not as colossally successful as his previous album... Over the next few years, sales of the third and fourth albums continued to grow vigorously worldwide...

In the late 70s, the musician entered the Guinness Book of Records for the largest number of spectators at an open-air concert: on Bastille Day, over 1 million people gathered at the Paris Place of Concorde ... Later, Les Chants Magnétiques was released.

“Music for Supermarkets” is the name given to the next album, which has a rather interesting story… Musique pour Supermarché instantly became one of the most collectible albums in history: it came out in only one copy and was sold at a charity auction for almost $10,000! All master lists were deliberately burned, which became a guarantee of the rarity of the recording ...

Jarr's next full-fledged release was 1984's Zoolook, which failed to attract audiences as well as its predecessors.

Break and new work!

A two-year hiatus followed before the musician returned on April 5, 1986 with an extravagant live performance in Houston to celebrate the silver anniversary of NASA: in addition to an audience of more than one million, the concert was broadcast on worldwide television. Rendez-Vous appeared a few weeks later, and after another visual concert in Lyon, France, the musician compiled the best material from these two events as a live LP Cities in Concert: Houston / Lyon 1987. Revolutions, featuring legendary Shadows guitarist Hank B. Marvin, followed in 1988, and a year later a third live LP was released, titled simply Jarre Live... After En attendant Cousteau 1990, Jarre demonstrated his greatest concert experience yet, drawing more than two and a half million fans in Paris, in honor of the Bastille Day...

The following decade was remarkably quiet, and apart from occasional live performances, Jarre largely escaped notice... Chronologie came out in 1993, followed four years later by Oxygène 7–13.

At the turn of the millennium he recorded Metamorphoses and then took a break as a flurry of reissues and remixes followed, including Sessions 2000, Les Granges Brulees and Odyssey Through O2. In 2007, after a seven-year recording hiatus, Jarre released a new dance single, "Teo and Tea," followed by an angular album of the same name.

In 2016 he released Oxygène 3: all three Oxygène albums were also released as Oxygène Trilogy. In November 2018, Equinoxe Infinity was released, a sequel to his 1978 album Equinoxe...

Live performances…

Concert Jean Michel Jarra (Moscow, 1997)
Concert Jean Michel Jarra (Moscow, 1997)

His visionary creativity is inseparable from his pioneering exploration of new technological trends. From the first modular and polyphonic synthesizers and drum machines to digital keyboards, plug-ins and applications, JMJ was always one step ahead of his peers... He was one of those who popularized the laser harp: he used the Houston skyline at a giant open-air concert in 1986 as a projection surface for the first ever large-scale laser mapping and established a live video link with the MIR cosmonauts during his epic Moscow performance in 1997. His Millennium concert in Egypt was the first concert to be streamed live on the Internet. He was the first to use 3D audio technology.

Jarre, who has appeared three times in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest outdoor performances, has always sought to present his music at one-off events and turn them into an unforgettable memory for those in attendance. He came up with the idea to create a whole new form of live experience: grand and vibrant high-tech performances!

Jean Michel Jarre, concert...
Jean Michel Jarre, concert...

Spectacular shows with powerful sound engineering and futuristic laser and light projections: free open-air concerts that combine iconic urban and natural surroundings into an unforgettable multi-sensory experience. The musician has organized these concerts in some of the most beautiful open-air venues around the world: the 2000 performance at the pyramids in Cairo, the first Western live performance in China since Mao, the welcome show for the Pope in Lyon, the NASA memorial concert in downtown Houston, and performances in Beijing's Forbidden City. He has quickly become the benchmark for outdoor events! He holds the Guinness World Record for the number of 3.5 million guests at his Moscow concert in 1997...

Conclusion…

Jean Michel Jarre
Jean Michel

Although the musician is at the forefront of artists using new technologies in music, his art has always been accompanied by profound reflections on the role of technology for the future of our planet. The famous 1976 cover of Oxygene, which featured a skull-shaped polluted mother earth, the Equinoxe cover by artist Michel Grainger, which was both mesmerizing and disturbing...

1976 Oxygene album
1976 Oxygene album

Then the cover of Equinoxe Infinity made a splash: the album was released in two versions - one visual depicts a utopian future in which humanity coexists peacefully with nature and technology, and the other paints a gloomy picture of fear and distortion ...

Optimistic by nature but also critical in spirit, Jarre has always drawn attention to issues related to nature and technology and has become a world-renowned expert on these subjects. He was awarded the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication, collaborated with Edward Snowden, tested artificial intelligence for musical compositions and was constantly invited to share his thoughts in speeches and forums. He was appointed by the UN as UNESCO's representative for environment and education. The musician's experience is in demand, and his contribution is invaluable.

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