Sylvie Vartan: Wikis


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Sylvie Vartan

Background information
Born 15 August 1944 (1944-08-15) (age 65)
Iskretz, Sofia Province, Bulgaria
Origin Paris, France
Genres Yé-yé, soul, jazz, rock'n'roll, pop, disco
Occupations Singer
Years active 1961–present
Labels Decca, Universal

Sylvie Vartan (born 15 August 1944) is a French pop singer. She was one of the first rock girls in France. Vartan was the most productive and active artist of the yé-yé girls, being considered as the toughest-sounding of her genre.[1] Her performance often featured elaborate show-dance choreography.[1] She made appearances on French and Italian TV, including the songs "Cette lettre-là" and "Irresistiblement". Giving shows with her husband Johnny Hallyday she yearly enjoyed full houses at the Olympia and the Palais des congrès de Paris throughout the Sixties and Mid-Seventies.[1] After a break in performances, she began recording and giving concerts of jazz ballads in the French speaking countries again in late 2004.[2]


Early life

Vartan was born in Iskretz, Sofia Province, Bulgaria. Her father Georges was a Bulgarian of Armenian descent. He worked as an attaché at the French embassy in Sofia. Her mother Illona was Hungarian.[2] In September 1944, when the Soviet Army occupied Bulgaria, the Vartanian family house was nationalised and they moved to Sofia.[2] In 1952, Dako Dakovski, a film director and her fathers' friend offered Sylvie a role of a schoolgirl in the movie Pod igoto. The film was about Bulgarian rebels against the Turkish occupation. Being a part of the film had a lasting impression on her and made her dream of becoming an entertainer.[2]

The promiscuity and privations of the postwar Bulgaria made the family emigrate to Paris in December 1952.[2] At first they stayed in the Lion d'Argent Hotel near Les Halles, where Georges found a job. The family stayed in a single room of the Angleterre Hotel for the following four years. Young Sylvie had to work hard to keep up at school and to assimilate with her schoolmates. She learned French in two years. In 1960 her family moved to an apartment in Michel Bizot Avenue.[2] By the example of her music producer brother Eddie, teenage Sylvie's main interest was music. The most influential genres were jazz and, out of her strict high school's spite, rock'n'roll. Her favourites included Brenda Lee, Bill Haley and Elvis Presley.[2]

Twisting schoolgirl

In 1961 Eddie offered Sylvie to record the song "Panne d'essence" with the French rocker Frankie Jordan. The EP by Decca Records was a surprise hit.[2] Although she was not credited on the sleeve, "Panne d'essence" provided Vartan her first appearance on the French Broadcasting Television. The journalists gave her a nickname La lycéenne du twist.[2] After the Twisting Schoolgirl had finished the Victor Hugo High School, she was free to sign a contract with Decca Records to start recording her own EP. By the beginning of December, 1961 the EP with the title song "Quand le film est triste", covering Sue Thompson's "Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)" was on sale.[2] This was yet another hit, that served her first concert in Paris Olympia hall on 12 December 1961. Quickly "Est-ce que tu le sais?", her version of the Ray Charles song "What’d I Say" was released. She opened for Vince Taylor at Paris Olympia for her second concert.[2] In July she toured France with Gilbert Bécaud. In Fall, 1962 she released her version of "The Loco-Motion" on EP and her first LP “Sylvie”. Her next hit was "Tous mes copains", issued on EP in 1962.[2] A small part of a singer in the film Un clair de lune à Maubeuge was her first adult appearance in a movie.[1]

Cover of "Sylvie a Nashville" album, a huge commercial success for Decca Records in 1964

In the same year she did four TV specials and became the darling of the teen magazine Salut les Copains.[1] Six of her thirty-one songs released in 1962 became top 20 European hits.[1] In late Winter 1963, Vartan toured France with Johnny Hallyday and starred with him in the movie D'où viens-tu, Johnny?. Later in 1963, after announcing their engagement over the radio, the young couple performed to a noisy audience of 200,000 at the La Nation Square of Paris.[1] At the end of the year, they travelled to Nashville, Tennessee to record an album with the Jordanaires. With the special treatment of vocalists, strings and brass sections in the true Nashville style, these recordings were a great commercial success in France.[1] The "Sylvie à Nashville" LP included the hits "La plus belle pour aller danser" and "Si je chante". Being accompanied by the movie “Cherchez l’idole”, the EP with "La plus belle pour aller danser" sold over a million copies in Japan.[2] In 1964 at the Paris Olympia, she appeared as the main attraction (third performance) on the same bill as the The Beatles and Trini Lopez. The commercial for the clothes “Renown” and a supporting role in the film "Patate" made her even more famous. The singer made appearances on U.S. TV:The Ed Sullivan Show, Shindig!, Hullabaloo, and an international concert tour, including Canada, South America and Polynesia.[2] In Tokyo she gave 13 concerts in 12 days.[2]

Yé-yé diva

In December 1964, as her husband went to military service, brother Eddie hired two English songwriting session musicians, Tommy Brown on drums and Mick Jones on guitar as they went to record in New York. The two Brits wrote a hit for her, called "Cette lettre-là".[1] Set in the smart design of the "J.C.Averty Show", "Cette lettre-là" was the first of Sylvie Vartan's TV variety nights.[3] In 1966-67 she recorded more original hits. "Dis moi, que tu m'aimes" was accompanied by a group of male dancers and aired on TV on 9 July 1967. "Le jour qui vient" was aired on the "Dim dam dom" program of the French Television 1 in color in 14 January 1968 [3]

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In 11 April 1968 she suffered a traffic accident, but was back on tour in August. No longer a shy young yéyé girl but a sexy dancer, more into cabaret than rock'n'roll,[2] the new Vartan was demonstrated to the French TV audience in the "Jolie poupée" show on 4 December 1968. In the show, the collaboration with Maritie and Gilbert Carpentier produced a highly entertaining result.[3] The variety night included the performance of "Irresistiblement", accompanied by elaborate girl group choreography, and "Jolie Poupee", a dialogue between a doll Sylvie and an adult one.[3] The hits of the "Jolie poupée" show were released as the "Maritza" album. In Italy, she released a cover version of Mina's "Zum zum zum". Being the 23rd biggest selling single of the following year in Italy, Vartan's version did better in Italian charts than Mina's original[4] Vartan continued with her one woman shows at the Paris Olympia in December 1968. The shows were published as the documentary "Sylvie à L'Olympia".[5] For nine Saturday nights in winter of 1969, Vartan starred in the Italian Broadcasting Service's variety nights of "Doppia coppia", performing her hits in Italian.[2] On the show the song "Irresistiblement" was turned into "Irresistibilmente" and "Le jour qui vient" into "Una cicala canta".[3] In March, 1969 the single "Irrestibilmente" entered the Italian charts at #3, peaked at #2 and stayed in Top Ten for 10 weeks. In 1969 the single was the 22nd biggest selling single in Italy. The tender ballad "Blam blam blam", written originally for the "Doppia coppia" show, peaked at #14 of the Italian charts and was among the 100 biggest selling singles in Italy in 1969.[6]

In December she returned to Italy after her world tour, to perform "Festa negli occhi, festa nel cuore" on Canzonissima variety night and "C'est un jour à rester couché" on Incontro con Sylvie Vartan TV show, recorded in the Gattopardo Club of Messina.[3] Her appearances, dressed in short skirts and Barbarella boots, with each song having a different costume, were popular in Italy and France. The cartoonists of both countries even drew Sylvie Vartan lookalikes.[2]

Sylvie Vartan and dance group perform "Irresistiblement" at "Jolie poupée" TV show, 4 December 1968.


In spite of suffering her second heavy car accident in 1970,[2] Sylvie Vartan continued intensive performing and recording.[1] Her annual world tours and Italian TV shows however continued to include her best of the late sixties.[2] In 1976 she went disco with John Kongos' cover "Qu'est-ce qui fait pleurer les blondes?" topping the French chart for several weeks. Her disco era climaxed at the "Dancing star" TV show on French Broadcasting Television 1 in 10 September 1977. The show was produced by Maritie and Gilbert Carpentier. The performances were published by RCA Records as "Dancing star" LP.[2] After releasing "Love again" in duet with John Denver, a #85 single on Billboard Hot 100 in 1984, she took a break in show business. In 1990 she gave a concert at the Palace of Culture of Sofia, opening and closing with a Bulgarian song. This was her first visit to the city after her emigration.[2] After her brother Eddie was shot in 2001, she took another break in performing public. In Fall 2004 she started recording and giving concerts of jazz ballads in the francophone countries, and Japan.[2]


Sylvie Vartan was one of the first rock girls in France. Before her, it was not common for a French pop artist to sing and dance at the same time.[7] Sylvie Vartan was the most productive and active of the yé-yé girls.[1] Having an average strength of voice, she used her sense of rhythm to sound as the toughest of the yé-yé girls.[1]


Sylvie Vartan's concerts were an excuse for some of the first violent acts of rockers in French theatres.[2] There is a Sylvie Vartan rose variety and a toy factory named after her. The Mattel toy company designed a dummy model after her body.[7] In 2005, the singer was appointed as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal and Child Health in the European Region.[8]


Personal life

In 1962 Sylvie Vartan met Jean-Philippe Smet, known as Johnny Hallyday, during her second concert in Paris Olympia hall. On 12 April 1965 they were married in Loconville.[2] They had a son David Michael Benjamin, known as David Hallyday. Johnny Hallyday and Sylvie Vartan were France's "Golden Couple" of their generation and their marriage was among the most carefully watched relationships for the French publicity.[2] However, as Johnny openly preferred pals to parenting, they had many disagreements and finally divorced on 4 November 1980.[2] She is currently married to record producer Tony Scotti. They have adopted a young Bulgarian girl Darina.[2]

Sylvie Vartan is an aunt to Eddie Vartan's son Michael Vartan.[2]


Following albums were released by Sylvie Vartan in the Sixties:[2]

  • 1962 : Sylvie
  • 1963 : Twiste et Chante
  • 1964 : Sylvie a Nashville
  • 1965 : A gift wrapped from Paris
  • 1966 : Il y a deux filles en moi
  • 1967 : 2'35 de bonheur
  • 1967 : Comme un garçon
  • 1968 : La Maritza

Following extended play records were released by Sylvie Vartan in the Sixties:[2]

  • 1961 : Panne d'essence (with Frankie Jordan)
  • 1962 : Le Locomotion"
  • 1962 : Tous mes copains
  • 1963 : I'm watching you
  • 1963 : Si je chante
  • 1964 : La Plus Belle pour aller danser
  • 1965 : Cette lettre-là
  • 1965 : Quand tu es là
  • 1966 : Il y a deux filles en moi
  • 1966 : Par amour, par pitié
  • 1967 : 2' 35 de bonheur (with Carlos)
  • 1967 : Comme un garçon
  • 1968 : Irrésistiblement
  • 1968 : La Maritza
  • 1969 : Face au soleil
  • 1969 : Abracadabra


  • Pod igoto (1952) as a schoolgirl
  • Un clair de lune à Maubeuge (1962) as a young singer
  • D'où viens-tu, Johnny? (1964) as Gigi
  • Patate (1964) as Alexa Rollo
  • Malpertuis (1971) as Bets
  • Ange noir, L' (1994) as Stephane Feuvrier
  • Mausolée pour une garce (2001) (TV) as Agnès Taride


  • Jour après jour, by Frédéric Quinonéro, to be published in 2008
  • Sylvie Vartan dans la lumière, autobiography, Xo - 2007 ISBN 9782845633377
  • Entre l'ombre et la lumière, autobiography, Xo - 2004, ISBN 2845631952
  • Sylvie Vartan, by Camilio Daccache and Isabelle Salmon, Vaderetro - 1996, ISBN 2909828417
  • Sylvie Vartan, une fille de l'Est, by Eric Cazalot and Christian Cazalot, Express Prelude & Fugue - 2003, ISBN 2843431638
  • Sylvie Vartan, Revue de mode, ..., Paris-Musées - 2004, ISBN 2879008476
  • Dictionnaire des chansons de Sylvie Vartan, by Benoît Cachin, Tournon - 2005, ISBN 2914237340


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Sylvie Vartan". The Ye-Ye Girls site. Retrieved 22 November 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae "Biography". Sylvie Vartan's official site. Retrieved 22 November 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "TV Graphie 60". Sylvie Vartan's official site. Retrieved 22 November 2007. 
  4. ^ I singoli più venduti del 1969. HitParadeItalia. Retrieved 20 January 2007
  5. ^ "Les années 60". Sylvie Vartan's official site. Retrieved 22 November 2007. 
  6. ^ Top Annuali Singles. hitparadeitalia site. Retrieved 27 Nov 2007
  7. ^ a b "Sylvie Vartan. Euroopan taivaan alla 18.06.2006.". Retrieved 22 November 2007. 
  8. ^ "Sylvie Vartan appointed goodwill ambassador for WHO European Region". World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. Retrieved 22 November 2007. 
  9. ^ a b "Décret du 15 mai 2006 portant promotion et nomination". JORF 2006 (113): 7120. 16-05-2006. PREX0609304D. Retrieved 5 April 2009. 
  10. ^ a b "Décret du 31 décembre 2008 portant promotion et nomination". JORF 2009 (1): 15. 2009-01-01. PREX0828237D. Retrieved 5 April 2009. 

External links

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