Jacques Lanzmann

Novelist, lyricist and editor of 'Lui'


Jacques Lanzmann, writer, editor and lyricist: born Bois-Colombe, France 4 May 1927; four times married (seven children), died Paris 21 June 2006.

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, France ruled the roost when it came to erotica. US publishers even stuck tricolour flags on the covers of titles like Chère and Dreamé (sic) in order to attract the casual buyer. The launch of Hugh Hefner's Playboy in 1953 changed all that, promoting men's magazines from under the counter to the top shelves and going on to sell millions of copies a month.

Ten years later, Daniel Filipacchi, the fashion photographer turned publisher of Salut les Copains, and Jacques Lanzmann, a jack of all trades turned novelist, put a French twist on the idea and came up with Lui, the "magazine for the modern man". They hired the writer Françoise Sagan and humorist Jean Yanne as contributors, put the sex symbols Brigitte Bardot and Jane Fonda on the cover and shook up a country which had been used to models with airbrushed pudenda in the pages of La Vie Parisienne.

Lanzmann edited Lui between 1963 and 1968 and published 40 novels but he is best known in France for the lyrics he wrote for the hit singles recorded by the dandy-ish singer and actor Jacques Dutronc. Looking like a proto-Damon Albarn, Dutronc, the future husband of Françoise Hardy, stepped out of his A&R role at Disques Vogue in 1966 and charmed France with the pseudo-protest songs "Et moi, et moi, et moi" and "Les Cactus", the goofy "Les Playboys" and the evocative "Il est cinq heures, Paris s'éveille" - voted French song of the century in 1999 (Anne Segalem was Lanzmann's co-lyricist in that instance).

Whereas, in the Yé-Yé era, artists such as Johnny Hallyday or Claude François were often content to just adapt US or UK hits in French, Dutronc and Lanzmann created their own hybrid of British beat and garage rock - compare and contrast the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" with "Le Responsable", with the lyricist always happy to add a dose of cynicism or sexism - "J'aime les filles", "L'Hôtesse de l'air" - to match the singer's cocky, cheeky persona.

Predictably, in the Sixties, Dutronc's songs didn't travel as well as those of Françoise Hardy or Richard Anthony but, in 1973, Mungo Jerry, the British group led by Ray Dorset, scored their third biggest hit with "Alright, Alright, Alright", an adaptation of "Et moi, et moi, et moi", and the singer is a favourite of the Francophile trio Saint Etienne and now has a tribute band in the UK simply called Les Dutronc.

Born in Bois-Colombes, near Paris, in 1927, Jacques Lanzmann was an awkward teenager teased for his strawberry-blonde hair, his stutter and for being Jewish. When his parents divorced on the eve of the Second World War, he found himself working as a farmhand in the Auvergne area of France. In 1943, he joined the Resistance with his older brother Claude (who went on to direct films such as the nine-hour 1985 epic Shoah).

Caught by the Germans and due to face the firing squad despite being only 16, Lanzmann was so "determined not to die while still a virgin" that he escaped. Back in Paris after the war, he drove trucks, worked as a welder and on a building site. He also began painting before travelling all over the world and ending up in Chile, where he mined copper.

While he was away, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre read the manuscript his brother Claude had submitted on his behalf and Jacques Lanzmann's first novel - La Glace est rompue ("The Ice is Broken") - was published in 1954. The following year, he wrote Le Rat d'Amérique (translated as The American Rat, 1959), a fictionalised account of his time in South America, and became a theatre critic for Lettres Françaises.

In the Sixties, he wrote filmscripts and worked as a journalist and broadcaster before launching Lui. He penned 70 songs for Dutronc and dozens more for Zizi Jeanmaire, Régine, Mireille Darc, Sacha Distel and Sylvie Vartan; and was also responsible for the French adaptation of the musical Hair. In the Seventies, he became a professional gambler and wrote a couple of best-sellers, but he failed to pay his taxes and went globe-trotting again. He published his last autobiographical book - Une vie de famille ("A Family Life") - earlier this year.

A self-made man with a very French - and, in later years, very white - handlebar moustache, Lanzmann took to the internet with gusto and wrote his own blog. He was married four times and remained restless. "Only a big love story would have made me stay put in one place, but it didn't happen like that," he said.

Pierre Perrone

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine