Formed in the 1940s, the Compagnons de la Chanson have been somewhat forgotten. However, they marked the history of music. Today, nostalgic fans mourn the death of Marc Herrand, the band’s co-founder and first musical director. He was 98 years old. This sad announcement is made by Jean-François Guyot, journalist at AFP (Agence France Presse), on his Twitter account. The causes of his disappearance have not been communicated. To date, there is therefore only one member of the Compagnons de la Chanson: Michel Cassez, known as Gaston, 88 years old. He had joined the group in 1973 until his separation in 1985. The death of Marc Herrand occurs nearly four years after the death of René Mella and of his brother Fred Mella in October and November 2019.
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Behind the success of the “Three Bells”
Born on May 9, 1925 in Alsace, Marc Holtz joined the Compagnons de la Musique, a group of choristers born in Lyon at the start of the Occupation, during the Second World War, in October 1941, created by Louis Liébard. In order to escape the Hitler Youth, he takes the name of Marc Herrand. In February 1946, he founded a new group with his colleagues: the Compagnons de la Chanson, which initially had nine members. Taking up old French a cappella songs, the choristers will meet Edith Piaf and sign with her their first success thanks to the title “The three bells”, whose arrangement is signed Marc Herrand, which becomes an international success. They went on tour in the United States and chained popular successes for three decades (“My young years”, “Tom Dooley”, Les galériens “…) They recorded a total of more than 400 songs and gave more than 300 concerts. a year in full glory, all over the world. The Compagnons de la Chanson will even star in the film “Nine Boys, One Heart” with Edith Piafbefore announcing their farewell tour in December 1980. They played for five weeks at the Olympia in 1983, and gave their last concert on February 14, 1985 at the Baltard Pavilion.
#Death at 98 from Marc #Herrandone of the last two #CompanionsOfTheSong, with Michel “Gaston” Cassez (88 years old). Marc Herrand was the first musical director and arranger https://t.co/siriKAoiBQ…https://t.co/yUsVY7jQ81… (via Rémi Caremel @DnlombrDstudios) pic.twitter.com/4VIHgPGNDp
— Jean-Francois Guyot (@JFGuyot) July 18, 2023
But Marc Herrand left the Compagnons de la chanson in March 1952 following his meeting with popular singer Yvette Giraud. He then becomes his conductor, pianist and arranger, and sometimes even the author of his songs. ” I was already living on another planet and I was already writing orchestrations for a future recording session with Yvette Giraud he said in his autobiography “The Enchanted Road” (2005), written with his wife, referring to his departure from the group. Together, they ended their career in 1999.