Michel Legrand died a fortnight ago, of sepsis after contracting a pulmonary infection. He was 86, which is a grand age, but he was very active and had a full concert schedule booked for the spring. So one resents somewhat, as I mentioned re Albert Finney yesterday, the randomness of fatal affliction in otherwise healthy old men. Sometimes with the advancing years a writer starts to sound written out - as if everything he has to say has already been said. Legrand didn't sound like that to me. My pal Jessica Martin was in his last show, Marguerite, in the West End a few years back, with a story by Boublil & Schönberg (of Les Misérables) and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, and Michel's music was better than 95 per cent of the alternatives playing London that season. Round about the same time Jess and I made a record of one of Legrand's hits from the early Seventies, "Sweet Gingerbread Man", mainly 'cause I felt not enough fellows sing it these days.
Michel's father, Raymond Legrand, was a pupil of Fauré who became a moderately successful conductor, accompanying Maurice Chevalier, Georges Guétary and the like. For a man with so quintessentially French a name as Michel Legrand - or "Big Mike," as a mutual friend used to call him - Big Mike was, in fact, half-Armenian on his mother's side. A couple of years after Michel's birth in 1932, Raymond abandoned the wife and kids, and spent the next decade or so consorting with other women and indeed the Vichy regime. One wonders about the psychological dynamic between Legrand père and Legrand fils - the so-so musician effortlessly outpaced by the brilliant son he left behind. By the age of eleven, Michel was studying at the Conservatoire de Paris with Nadia Boulanger;...
Wake Up To Breaking News!
It is time to put away the our toys and propaganda we've been taught as children and think for ourselves.