Artist of the Week – Jean-Michel Jarre

Let’s have another artist of the week from my old radio show Music for the Masses now. My apologies for any unintentional plagiarism, hyperbole, or errors that may follow.

Jean-Michel Jarre was born in 1948, son of the classic film musician Maurice Jarre, who was responsible for the soundtracks to Dr. Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia, among others. Jean-Michel played in various jazz groups until studying at the prestigious Conservatoire de Paris in the mid-1960s.

It was in 1968, however, that he discovered, and practically invented, electronic music. After several successful musical experiments and soundtracks in the early 1970s, 1976 saw the release of the groundbreaking classic Oxygène, which would become a huge success across the world.

The follow-up Équinoxe was released in 1978, and album after followed, and over the next three decades he would be responsible for completely new styles of music and would popularise new musical techniques: for instance his 1981 album Magnetic Fields was one of the first to use sampling, something he would really explore on 1984’s Zoolook.

However, in the 1980s, he became less well known for his albums, but almost infamous for his live concerts. After playing to over a million people at the Place de la Concorde in 1979, he became the first Western musician to be allowed into China in 1981. In 1986 he set the skies of Houston and Lyon alight with the first of his impressive laser shows, repeating the spectacle in London in 1988 and Paris in 1990.

After 1991’s memorable greatest hits album Images and his 1993 studio album Chronologie, he performed his first proper tour, across Europe and also later in Hong Kong, to huge success and acclaim.

In 1997, he celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the release of Oxygène with “volume two”, Oxygène 7-13. Similar in style to the original, it was extremely successful, and he followed this up with his biggest tour to date.

Further live extravaganzas followed, as he celebrated the coming of the new millennium at the Pyramids in Giza, following this with the Acropolis in June 2001, and a Danish wind farm at the end of 2002.

Most recently [in 2004], to celebrate the release of his latest greatest hits album, which is still riding high on the charts, he’s just returned to Beijing for another concert extravaganza.

So, [blank space which was never filled in] albums on, with 55 million copies sold worldwide, what next? Well, legend has it he’s gone into even darker dance, and is currently working with Underworld on new material [this is an interesting statement, for which I can see no evidence].

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