Pierre Rapsat, the poetic rocker
Author, composer, performer, Pierre Rapsat was a major artist of French chanson. His style was a mix of rock and French chanson. His poetic lyrics combined beautifully with his music.
Pierre Rapsat was born in Ixelles to a Flemish father and a mother who was the daughter of Asturian refugees, an identity which he referred to various times throughout his artistic career.
He started his artistic career by performing on stage with a succession of rock bands. He recorded an album with the band Laurelie in 1970 before playing with the band Jenghiz Khan for two years. It was only at the age of 25 that he embarked on a solo career, initially in English under the name of Peter Rapsat.
In 1976, he was selected to represent Belgium at the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Judie & Cie. He started to find his own style during this period, a mix of rock and French chanson. His first major success came in 1982 with the track Lâchez les fauves which sold 30,000 copies and was certified a double gold record.
He was a natural stage performer, which brought him fame in Canada. With his band Transfert, he took part in the Quebec City summer festival in 1984. His song Sujet Tabou was a big hit with the Canadian public. In the autumn of the same year, he released his album Ligne claire featuring the track Décalage Horaire, which received a lot of airplay.
In the 1990s, he started to look more critically at society and his music became more inward-looking. His style matured and his art reached its zenith. It wasn't until 2001 that he achieved success in France, with Dazibao, an album considered by the critics as the best of his career.
Pierre Rapsat died on 20 April 2002 at the age of 53. His live album recorded at the Cirque Royal was released a few days before his death and went double platinum a few months later.
© Luc Dechamps