France Gall

Born Isabelle Geneviève Marie Anne Gall
9 October 1947
Paris, France

Died 7 January 2018 (aged 70)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Cause of death Cancer
Other names France Gall
Occupation Singer

Isabelle Geneviève Marie Anne “France” Gall (9 October 1947 – 7 January 2018) was a French yé-yé singer. She won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1965. She was married to, and had a successful singing career in partnership with, the French singer-songwriter Michel Berger, until his death. The couple had two children.

Gall was born in Paris on 9 October 1947, to a highly musical family. Her father, the lyricist Robert Gall, wrote songs for Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour. Her mother, Cécile Berthier, was a singer herself and the daughter of Paul Berthier, the co-founder of Les Petits Chanteurs à la Croix de Bois. The only daughter of her family, she had two brothers: Patrice and Claude. In spring 1963, Robert Gall encouraged his daughter to record songs and send the demos to the music publisher Denis Bourgeois. That July, she auditioned for Bourgeois at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, after which Bourgeois wanted to sign her immediately. France was subsequently signed to Philips.

At the time, Bourgeois was working for the label as artistic director for Serge Gainsbourg and assumed this role for Gall as well. He encouraged her to record four tracks with the French jazz musician, arranger and composer Alain Goraguer.

The first airplay of France’s first single “Ne sois pas si bête” (“Don’t Be So Stupid”), occurred on her 16th birthday. It was released in November and became a hit, selling 200,000 copies. Gainsbourg, who had released several albums and written songs for singers including Michèle Arnaud and Juliette Gréco, was asked by Bourgeois to write songs for Gall. Gainsbourg’s “N’écoute pas les idoles” (“Don’t listen to the idols”) was Gall’s second

At the same time, Gall made her live debut, opening for Sacha Distel in Belgium. She teamed up with Distel’s business manager, Maurice Tézé, a lyricist, which allowed her to create an original repertoire, unlike the majority of her contemporaries who sang adaptations of Anglophone hits. Elaborate orchestrations by Alain Goraguer blended styles, permitting her to navigate between jazz, children’s songs, and anything in between. Examples of this mixed-genre style included “Jazz à gogo” (by Alain Goraguer and Robert Gall) and “Mes premières vraies vacances” (by Jacques Datin and Maurice Vidalin). Gall and Gainsbourg’s association produced many popular singles, continuing through the summer of 1964 with the hit song “Laisse tomber les filles” (“Leave the girls alone”) followed by “Christiansen” by Datin-Vidalin. Gainsbourg also secretly recorded Gall’s laughter to use on “Pauvre Lola”, a track on his 1964 album Gainsbourg Percussions.

Although struggling in her home country, Gall regularly recorded in Germany from 1966 to 1972, in particular with the composer and orchestrator Werner Müller. She had a successful German career with songs by Horst Buchholz and Giorgio Moroder: “Love, l’amour und Liebe” (1967), “Hippie, hippie” (1968), “Ich liebe dich, so wie du bist” (“I love you the way you are”) (1969) and “Mein Herz kann man nicht kaufen” (“My heart is not for sale”) (1970). Her other German hits included “Haifischbaby (Bébé requin)”, “Die schönste Musik, die es gibt” (“The most beautiful music there is”/”Music To Watch Girls By”), “Was will ein Boy” (“What does a boy want?”) (1967), “Ja, ich sing” (“Yes, I sing”), “A Banda (Zwei Apfelsinen im Haar)” (“Two oranges in my hair”), “Der Computer Nr. 3” (1968), “Ein bisschen Goethe, ein bisschen Bonaparte” (“A little Goethe, a little Bonaparte”), “I like Mozart” (1969), “Dann schon eher der Piano player” (“Then rather the piano player”) (1970), “Komm mit mir nach Bahia, Miguel” (“Come with me to Bahia, Miguel”) (1972).

Gall took a break from singing in the early 1990s and did not record any more for several years to come. She did, however, make an album called Double Jeu with Berger. Following the release of Double Jeu, Gall and Berger announced a series of concerts in various Parisian venues; this project was nearly cancelled by Berger’s death from a heart attack on 2 August 1992. Although Gall was strongly affected by Berger’s death, she wanted to complete the project they had planned. However, she decided to commit to the performances at Bercy and promoted the songs that she and Berger created together.

Pauline, Gall’s elder child with Michel Berger, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis soon after she was born. She and Berger had decided to pin their hopes on the progress of medical research and keep details of Pauline’s condition a secret from the public. She entered into a pact with her husband to alternate their professional projects to take care of their daughter in the hope that a cure would be found. Pauline died of this in December 1997. Gall was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 1993, which was successfully treated. Since the death of her daughter, Gall has made only occasional public appearances.

Her son Raphaël is a music supervisor. As a farewell to her career, a documentary movie was shot in 2001, France Gall par France Gall. Millions watched the documentary when it was broascast on French television that year. Gall staged and appeared in the 2007 France 2 documentary, Tous pour la musique, marking the 15th anniversary of Michel Berger’s death. She was a patron of the French charity Coeurs de Femmes and also a regular poker player up until her death.


Gall died of an infection complicated by an undisclosed type of cancer at the American Hospital of Paris, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, on 7 January 2018 at the age of 70.



N’écoute pas les idoles (March 1964)
France Gall (Mes premières vraies vacances) (August 1964)
Sacré Charlemagne (December 1964)
Poupée de cire, poupée de son (April 1965)
Baby pop (October 1966)
Les Sucettes (November 1966)
1968 (January 1968)
France Gall (1973)
Cinq minutes d’amour (1976)
France Gall (6 January 1976)
Dancing disco (27 April 1977)
France Gall Live (live album, 9 November 1978)
Starmania (various artists) (16 October 1978)
Paris, France (19 May 1980)
Tout pour la musique (10 December 1981)
Palais des Sports (live album, 4 November 1982)
Débranche! (2 April 1984)
France Gall au Zénith (live album, 4 February 1985)
Babacar (19 February 1987)
Le Tour de France 88 (live album, 7 November 1988)
Double jeu (with Michel Berger, 12 June 1992)
Simple je – Débranchée à Bercy (live album, 29 October 1993)
Simple je – Rebranchée à Bercy (live album, 28 January 1994)
Pleyel (live album, concert recorded in 1994, published in December 2005)
France (29 March 1996)
Concert public (live, Olympia 1996) & Concert privé (Concert acoustique TV M6 1997) (24 April 1997)
Best of France Gall (compilation, 15 June 2004)
Évidemment (compilation, 7 October 2004)


October 1963 – “Ne sois pas si bête”, adaptation by Pierre Delanoë of “Stand a little closer”, original words and music by Jack Wolf and Maurice “Bugs” Bower
1964 – “N’écoute pas les idoles”, words and music by Gainsbourg
1964 – “Jazz à gogo”, words by Robert Gall music by Alain Goraguer
1964 – “Laisse tomber les filles”, words and music by Gainsbourg
1964 – “Sacré Charlemagne”, words by Robert Gall and music by Georges Liferman
1965 – “Poupée de cire, poupée de son”, words and music by Gainsbourg
1965 – “Attends ou va-t’en”, words and music by Gainsbourg
1965 – “Nous ne sommes pas des anges”, words and music by Gainsbourg
1965 – “Baby pop”, words and music by Gainsbourg
1966 – “Les Sucettes”, words and music by Gainsbourg
1967 – “Néfertiti”, words and music by Gainsbourg
1967 – “Bébé requin”, words by Jean-Michel Rivat and Frank Thomas, music by Joe Dassin
1967 – “Toi que je veux”, words by Jean-Michel Rivat and Frank Thomas, music by Joe Dassin
1968 – “Le Temps du tempo”, words by Robert Gall and music by Alain Goraguer
1968 – “Y’a du soleil à vendre”, words by Robert Gall and music by Hubert Giraud
1968 – “24 / 36”, words by Jean-Michel Rivat and Frank Thomas, music by Joe Dassin
1969 – “Homme tout petit”, words by Jean-Michel Rivat and Frank Thomas, music by Jean-Pierre Bourtayre
1969 – “Les Années folles”, adaptation by Boris Bergman of the British song “Gentlemen Please”, original words and music by Barbara Ruskin
1969 – “Baci, baci, baci”, adaptation by Eddy Marnay from Italian lyrics by Sergio Bardotti and Claudio Tallino and music by Franco and Giorgio Bracardi
1970 – “Zozoï”, words by Robert Gall and music by Nelson Angelo
1970 – “Les Éléphants”, words by Jean Schmitt and music by Jean Géral
1971 – “C’est cela l’amour”, words by Jacques Lanzmann and music by Paul-Jean Borowsky
1971 – “Chasse neige”, words by Étienne Roda-Gil and music by Julien Clerc
1972 – “Frankenstein”, words and music by Gainsbourg
1972 – “5 minutes d’amour”, words by Jean-Michel Rivat and Frank Thomas, music by Roland Vincent
1973 – “Plus haut que moi”, adaptation by Yves Dessca and Jean-Michel Rivat of “Maria vai com as outras” by Toquinho and Vinicius de Moraes
1973 – “Par Plaisir”, words by Yves Dessca and Jean-Michel Rivat, music by Roland Vincent
May 1974 – “La Déclaration d’amour”, words and music by Michel Hamburger (Michel Berger)
October 1974 – “Mais, aime la”, words and music by Berger
1975 – “Comment lui dire”, words and music by Berger
April 1976 – “Ce soir je ne dors pas”
June 1976 – ” Ça balance pas mal à Paris” (duet with Michel Berger), words and music by Berger
May 1977 – “Musique”, words and music by Berger
October 1977 – “Si, maman si”
January 1978 – “Le meilleur de soi-même”
March 1978 – “Viens je t’emmène”, words and music by Berger
January 1979 – “Besoin d’amour”, words by Luc Plamondon and music by Berger
June 1980 – “Il jouait du piano debout”, words and music by Berger
October 1980 – “Bébé, comme la vie”, words and music by Berger
October 1980 – “Donner pour donner” (duet with Elton John), words by Michel Berger and Bernie Taupin, music by Michel Berger – Archives INA : Reportage Antenne 2, 1981
1981 – “Tout pour la musique”, words and music by Berger
1981 – “Résiste”, words and music by Berger
May 1981 – “Amor También”, words and music by Berger
6 April 1984 – “Débranche”, words and music by Berger
17 September 1984 – “Hong Kong Star”, words and music by Berger – Archives INA : Extrait de “Hong Kong Star”, Antenne 2, 1984 FR No. 6
4 February 1984 – “Calypso”, words and music by Berger
20 May 1984 – “Cézanne peint”, words and music by Berger
3 April 1987 – “Babacar”, words and music by Berger FR No. 11 GER No. 14
24 August 1987 – “Ella, elle l’a”, words and music by Berger FR No. 2 GER No. 1 NL No. 38
7 March 1988 – “Évidemment”, words and music by Berger
12 September 1988 – “Papillon de nuit”, words and music by Berger
20 March 1989 – “La chanson d’Azima”
29 May 1992 – “Laissez passez les rêves”, words and music by Berger, duet with Michel Berger
12 October 1992 – “Superficiel et léger”
15 January 1993 – “Les élans du coeur”
6 May 1993 – “Mademoiselle Chang” (live)
5 November 1993 – “Si, maman si” (live)
December 1993 – “Il jouait du piano debout” (live)
2 February 1994 – “La négresse blonde” (live)
15 March 1994 – “Paradis Blanc” (live)
14 November 1994 – “Les princes des villes”
15 March 1996 – “Plus haut”
5 November 1996 – “Privée d’amour”
25 October 1996 – “Message personnel”
14 February 1997 – “Résiste” (remix)
15 May 1997 – “Attends ou va-t’en” (live)
2004 – “Zozoï” – Reissue of 1970 single
20 August 2004 – “La seule chose qui compte”

France Gall