Gainsbourg 1

Serge Gainsbourg

  • Birth

    Born Lucien Ginsburg on April 2nd, 1928 in Paris, France. His parents Joseph and Olga were Russian Jews who fled Russia in 1919.
  • Period: to

    La vie de Serge Gainsbourg

  • World War II and antisemitism

    World War II and antisemitism
    During World War II he and his family were forced to wear the yellow star which identified them as Jewish. This had a profound impact on him.
  • Family moves to Limoges

    Family moves to Limoges
    His father was no longer able to work as a Jewish pianist and had to relocate. The family eventually joined him in January 1944 in the Limoges region with fake papers under the name Guimbard.
  • Reinstallation in Paris

    Reinstallation in Paris
    The Liberation of Paris took place on August 25th, 1944. The Ginsburg family moved back to Paris and settled in the 16th arrondissement.
  • Military service

    Military service
    In 1948 Serge completed his military service in Courbevoie, but he was often discplined for insurrection. It is during this period that he learned to play guitar.
  • Marriage to Elisabeth Livitsky

    Serge discontinued his studies at the L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts. In 1947 he met Elisabeth Livitsky and they married on November 3rd, 1951.
  • Transitions from painting to music

    Transitions from painting to music
    Up until 1954 he worked primarily as a painter. But he began singing and playing guitar in small cabarets, like Chex Madame Arthur and piano bars.
  • Divorce

    Serge engaged in multiple affairs with other women which led to his divorce from Elisabeth in 1957.
  • First album: "Du chant a la une!"

    First album: "Du chant a la une!"
    In collaboration with Alain Goraguer he recorded "Du chant a la une!" which was not a commercial success as an album. But the song "Le Poinçonneur des Lilas" was a hit:
    Le Poincenneur des Lilas
  • "La Javanaise"

    "La Javanaise"
    Serge was criticized for his looks and was still not widely popular at this time. The song "La Javanaise" came out in 1962. Originaly written for Juliette Greco:
    La Javanaise
  • Le Grand Prix du Concours Eurovision de la chanson

    Le Grand Prix du Concours Eurovision de la chanson
    Awarded the Grand Prix du Concours Eurovision de la chanson for the song "Poupée de cire poupée de son" written for France Gall:
    Poupee de cire poupee de son
  • "Le Sable et Le Soldat"

    Written during the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Gainsbourg surprised the public by showing his support for Israel in such a strong way:
    Le sable et le soldat
  • Brigitte Bardot, Bonnie and Clyde

    Brigitte Bardot, Bonnie and Clyde
    He had a brief affair with Brigitte Bardot, French actress and singer. They recorded several songs together including "Harley Davidson" and "Bonnie and Clyde" which depicts the American criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow:
    Bonnie and Clyde
  • Jane Birkin, "Je t'aime... moi non plus"

    Jane Birkin, "Je t'aime... moi non plus"
    On the set of the film "Slogan" he met Jane Birkin, a British actress and singer. They began a 10 year relationship and recorded "Je t'aime... moi non plus" (originally recorded with Brigitte Bardot but this version became famous):
    Je t' non plus
  • "Histoire de Melody Nelson"

    "Histoire de Melody Nelson"
    Together they recorded "Histoire de Melody Nelson", produced by Jean-Claude Vannier, a concept album which takes the form of musical poetry about a Lolita-like figure. Considered to be one of his most accomplished and influential albums:
    Melody Nelson
  • Daughter Charlotte is born

    Daughter Charlotte is born
    Charlotte Gainsbourg was born July 21st, 1971. Charlotte went on to become an accomplished actress and singer:
    Charlotte Gainsbourg
  • "Rock Around the Bunker"

    "Rock Around the Bunker"
    Released his album "Rock Around the Bunker" in 1975, another concept album about Nazi Germany.
  • "L'Homme à tête de chou"

    "L'Homme à tête de chou"
    Released "L'Homme à tête de chou" in 1976.
  • Jane Birkin leaves

    Gainsbourg had increasing problems with alcoholism and he was distancing himself from his family. Jane left him in the fall of 1980.
  • Controversy in the 80s

    Controversy in the 80s
    His music began to wane and he made regular appearances on TV. He would often show up drunk and unkempt and make vulgar remarks. In March 1984 he burned a 500 French franc bill to protest taxation.
  • Death

    He died of a heart attack in Paris on March 2nd, 1991. President Mitterand called him "our Baudelaire, our Apollinaire" and his music retains its legendary status in France today.