“I had the funny singer label, then bawdy, it stopped with my own songs”

In 1988, Jacques Erwan offered a portrait of Pierre Vassiliu for the show “Opus”. An interview with the musician in his house in the countryside, surrounded by his animals. Pierre Vassiliu retraced his career, evoking his beginnings in song, his encounters, his compositions.

Pierre Vassiliu died on August 17, 2014 at the age of 76, in Sète.

Singer, author, composer, Pierre Vassiliu, before “breaking the house” with Who is this, had passed through “Le Petit Conservatoire” of Mireillehad scoured the cabarets of the left bank of Paris and already enjoyed success with Armand, The Sergeant’s Wife, Ivanhoe
It was funny, bawdy, even ribald, like his mischievous eye.

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It was in the 1970s that the mustachioed troubadour, cramped in the “singer-entertainer” box, found his truth. Love friendship, In my house of love, Mary in Provence, The Penguins, I found a newspaper in the airport lobby
Vassiliu is delicate and simple, melancholic and joyful, sentimental and hedonistic, intimate and generous.
No flowers, no handkerchiefs, no offertory mass… I want to die without a story / I want to start out small again, fall into the black hole as I came out of it… he proclaims in his song As I want.

In this long interview, given to Jacques Erwan, he talks about his life choices, his family and his career:
“I was born in the countryside, I’m a real country man. I was born in Sucy-en-Brie, in Seine-et-Oise at the time. I lived there until I got kicked out of at home, at 15. I got fired by my father because I was doing too much nonsense.
With a doctor and violinist father, a music lover and pianist mother very keen on nature and horse riding, he will initially become an apprentice jockey, “one of my passions until the age of twenty-three”.

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Pierre Vassiliu begins to play the guitar inspired by Georges Brassens. He composes songs, encouraged by a band of merry men led by Roger Pierre and Jean-Marc Thibault, whom he meets while giving riding lessons.

Then comes the trauma of military service in Algeria :
“It’s something I try to forget and I never talk about it because it was a shock, I understood things that I thought were unthinkable and unbelievable.”
He begins by singing texts written by his brother, “smiling” songs, lively: “It was my brother who wrote these songs, he couldn’t sing them, he had an inner passion for writing but not a passion for the stage, as I have for example. (…) I was immediately labeled as a funny singer, then as a bawdy singer and, at some point, it stopped, I made my own songs.

Where I feel best is when I listen to Ravel

About his musical tastes: “I’m not a sound freak, but I like to hear beautiful sound. I listen to so-called classical music, I listen to African music, Caribbean music, jazz, Anglo music -Saxon, …Sting, Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna for the kids. I’m quite eclectic. Where I feel the best is when I listen to Ravel. Maurice Ravel is one of the people I could say “he’s my idol”. (…) The day I discovered Ravel, I realized that I hadn’t understood anything about music, he had already written everything before us. Enfant et les sortilèges” is, in my opinion, the most complete work he has written.”

  • By Jacques Erwan
  • Directed by: Michel Gache
  • Opus – Pierre Vassiliu (1st broadcast: 02/07/1988)
  • Web indexing: Sandrine England, Sound documentation of Radio France
  • Archive Ina-Radio France