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In-depth Feature:  Jean Michel-Jarre
Rare footage of the most successful electronic artist of last Century
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Major Synth Dude

Jarre and a couple of keyboards

Probably in commercial terms at least, Jean-Michel Jarre is one of the most successful electronic musicians. Sales of his albums Oxygene (1977 on Polydor), Equinox (1978), Magnetic Fields (1981) and Zoolook (1984) totalling over 60 million worldwide by the year 2000. As well as creating music, he put a lot of energy into staging extravagant live performances in major cities around the world, where he ran giant synthesizer rigs and lavish laser light shows.

Born in 1948 into a family with electronic music roots, he was an early musical prodigy, starting piano at 5 years old and then going on to study at the Paris Conservatoire. He moved into Music Concrete and began to follow Stockhausens take on electronic music.

In making 1977’s massive hit Oxygene he used all available technology from ARP, Putney (VCS3), Farfisa and of course the Mellotron. Not confined to off the shelf electronics, he formed a strong bond with engineer/boffin Michael Geiss who custom build a number of items. In the video you can see the extremely rare Giess Sequencer in action.

His next album Equinoxe (1978) was launched with a massive concert staged in Paris at the Place de la Concorde and was allegedly attended by 1 million people and televised around the world. In the first clip of the studio recording taken from around the time of the concert in 1979, you can see the size and complexity of his setup. Note the use of the trigger for the snare which helps a bloke behind a load of keyboards look a bit more interesting.

Next up, is some actual footage of the concert itself - seeing as video recorders were practically the size of a house back then, this ones a real rarity.

Then we have Jean-Michel and mate Daniel Auteuil on a chat show (French speaking) where Jarre whips out what looks like a VCS Synthi-A and makes a few FX.

After that, there's a longer rendition of Oxygene from his Acropolis gig and a burst of soundcheck from Gdansk 2005. - Enjoy!

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