Jean-Michel André Jarre is a popular French composer, performer, and record producer. Regarded as a pioneer in the electronic, synth-pop, ambient, as well as New Age genres, he is considered one of the world's most successful entertainers of all time. Born in Lyon, France, Jarre received training in piano from a very early age. He was also exposed to different art forms, including street performance, as a young boy. He started small and reached the peak of his career after the release of 'Oxygène' which was his third studio album. The album was hugely successful, reaching the first position at the French Albums chart. It also stood at No. 2 on the UK Albums and at No. 78 on the US Billboard 200. The album sold around 12 million copies and it eventually became the best selling French album of all time.
Jarre has received numerous awards and honors for his contribution to music, such as the Platinum Europe Award and the MOJO Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also made entry into the Guinness Book of World Records for having the highest number of live spectators at an outdoor event. He broke his own record three times! He was awarded the 'Legion of Honor' by the French government.
Childhood & Early Life
Jean-Michel André Jarre was born in Lyon, France on 24th August, 1948 to France Pejot and Maurice Jarre. His mother was a member of the French resistance and a concentration camp survivor, while his father was a popular composer. His father soon left for America, leaving his family behind, and Jarre was raised by his mother and grandparents.
He was inspired to pursue a career in music after watching street performers perform. With his mother’s help, he began taking music classes. He was also a skilled painter, and as a young boy, he made money by selling his paintings.
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After setting up a small studio, Jean-Michel André Jarre released his debut single ‘La Cage’, in 1971. The following year, he released his debut studio album ‘Deserted Palace’. However, it failed to earn popularity and didn’t make much of an impact in his career. His second album ‘Les Granges Brûlées’ which was released in 1973, didn’t fare well either.
As his first two albums didn’t do well, Jarre continued to struggle. His third album ‘Oxygène’ (1976) however, became a huge hit, and made him popular on an international level. It peaked at No. 1 in the French Albums Chart. It also entered the Top 10 in charts in several countries such as Austria, Germany, Sweden and the UK. It managed to enter the US Billboard 200 as well, where it stood at 78th position. It received mixed reviews from critics.
Two years later, he released ‘Équinoxe’, his fourth studio album. It also did well, though it wasn’t as much of a success as his previous album. Over the next few years, the sales of his third and fourth album continued to grow worldwide.
In 1979, he entered the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest number of spectators ever at an open-air concert. The concert, which was held at Place de la Concorde in Paris, drew more than a million people.
In 1981, Jean-Michel André Jarre was invited to China to perform at the Les Concerts en Chine. He was apparently the first Westerner to have received this invitation. His performance was much loved by the people.
Throughout the ensuing years, he continued to release studio albums, such as ‘Musique pour Supermarché’, (1983) ‘Rendez-Vous’ (1986) and ‘En attendant Cousteau’ (1990).
In 1986, his live performance ‘Rendez-vous Houston’ was attended by nearly 1.5 million people. Thus, he entered the Guinness Book of World Records again by breaking his previous record. He broke the record once again in 1990, when his concert Paris La Defense was attended by 2.5 million.
He entered the Guinness Book of Records again in 1997, after breaking his own record for the third time, after his concert in Moscow was attended by 3.5 million.
In 1997, he released ‘Oxygène 7–13’ or ‘Oxygène 2’, which was the sequel to his third studio album ‘Oxygène’. Over the following years, he released several more albums such as ‘Metamorphoses’ (2000), ‘Geometry of Love (2003), and ‘Teo &Tea’ (2007).
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His latest albums were ‘Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise’ and ‘Oxygène 3,’ both of which were released in 2016.
'Oxygène’ was the first successful studio album in Jean-Michel André Jarre’s career. The album, which contained six tracks, was first released in December 1976. It peaked at the first position on the French Albums chart, as well as charted in several other European countries. It also helped Jarre earn popularity on an international level.
‘Rendez-Vous’, was Jarre’s eighth studio album. Released in April 1986, the album peaked at No. 9 in the UK Charts, as well as at No. 52 in the US Charts. It earned a nomination for a ‘Grammy Award for Best New Age Album’. The album has sold around three million copies worldwide.
One of his latest studio albums is ‘Oxygène 3’. The album was released on 2nd December 2016, which was the 40th anniversary of the release of the original Oxygène album. The album did well, though it was hardly as successful as the original Oxygène album. It stood at No. 51 on the French Albums, and at No. 41 at the UK Albums. It also entered the charts in several other countries.
Awards & Achievements
Jean-Michel Jarre has received numerous awards in his career for his contribution to music. Some of them are the ‘Midem Award’ (1978), ‘IFPI's Platinum Europe Award’ (1998),’ Eska Music Awards Special Award’ (2007), ‘MOJO Lifetime Achievement Award’ (2010), ‘International Cavalchina Award’ (2011) and ‘SPA Medal of Honour’ (2017).
He was awarded Officier de la Légion d'Honneur from the French Government in 2011.
He first entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the biggest concert in 1979.
He later broke his own record three times.
An asteroid 4422 Jarre has been named in his honor.