вторник, 22 мая 2007 г.

Amanda Lear - English

Amanda Lear
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Amanda Lear (allegedly born Alain Louis René Maurice Tapp [1]) on November 18, 1946 (1936?, 1938?, 1939?), in Hong Kong (Saigon, Vietnam?) is a French model, painter, novelist, media personality, composer, lyricist and singer who was considered to be the first White Disco Queen in the 1970's. She first came to the public's attention as the model on the cover of Roxy Music's album classic For Your Pleasure in 1973.

Biography

Amanda Lear on the cover of Roxy Music's 1973 album "For Your Pleasure"Amanda Lear was born to an English father, serving in the British Navy and on visit in Hong Kong, and a mother of Mongolian/Russian/Chinese/French origin. Soon after her birth her parents separated, and Lear was raised by her mother in the south of France. In addition to having two mother tongues by birth, French and English, she showed an exceptional talent for languages at an early age and also learnt German, Spanish and Italian in her teens, which was to serve her very well later in her professional life. Her greatest passion was however art and at the age of 16 she went to Paris to study painting before joining St Martins School Of Art in London in 1964.

In 1965 she was spotted by legendary modelling agent Cathérine Harlé and eager to find a way to finance her studies she returned to Paris to catwalk for Paco Rabanne and Yves Saint-Laurent. Soon thereafter she found herself being photographed for magazines like Elle, Marie France and Vogue, and modelling for fashion designers like Mary Quant, Ossie Clark and Coco Chanel. After some time she dropped out of art school, began modelling full-time and went on to lead a careless life in the Swinging London of the 60's, hobnobbing with the rich and famous like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg, Twiggy, Sacha Distel and Keith Moon. While clubbing with Brian Jones and her then boyfriend, the Guinness heir Tara Browne, in a Parisian nightspot named Le Castel in 1965, she was introduced to a man that was to change her life - on many levels according to some - none other than Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dalì who instantly saw a kindred spirit in her. Lear's biography "My Life With Dali", which was first published in 1985 and had Dalí's approval, gives a detailed and intriguing insight into the lives of both the artist and his muse. She accompanied him and his wife on trips to Barcelona, Madrid, New York and Paris and spent every summer with Dali at his home in Cadaqués in Catalonia. Dali served as a mentor to her; travelling with him, Lear discovered the great museums of Europe, Parisian salons and restaurants, New York bohemia and his homeland, Spain. She met lots of interesting people, including Andy Warhol, while she in return introduced him to the younger generation of counterculture in art, fashion, photography and music in London.

Although she remained Dali's confidant, protegé and lover all through the 60's and 70's, Lear was also romantically linked to Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, had a year-long affair David Bowie, who was also married at the time, and was briefly engaged to Bryan Ferry, but in 1979 she married French aristocrat Alain-Philippe Malagnac d'Argens de Villele, who in fact was the former lover turned adopted son of controversial writer Roger Peyrefitte. (Malagnac died in 2000, aged 51.)

Despite modelling nude for Playboy in the mid 70's and the photos very effectively proving that Lear indeed was a woman, she was and still is widely rumoured to be either a transsexual or a hermaphrodite because of her height (6ft/183 cm), her slightly masculine facial features and most of all her exceptionally low baritone-like vocal timbre. The speculations follow her to this day, although Amanda herself has since the early 80's claimed that this was a very clever publicity stunt thought up by herself and Salvador Dalí to get her career in music started. "Everything Dali said, I just listened to. He was the genius, who was I? When it came to launching my career, he told me I was a lousy singer and if I wanted to sell records, I'd have to find something other than the music to attract people to buy them. So we built the Amanda Lear persona into something very intriguing and very ambiguous and it worked." (The Telegraph, 2001 [[2]]

However, legendary English transsexual model and performer April Ashley has since gone on record in her autobiography, "April Ashley's Odyssey" [3] to say that she worked with Amanda at the Carrousel Club in Paris in the late 50's. According to Ashley Lear was then a man in his early twenties, called Alain Tapp, but performing in drag shows using the stage name "Peki d'Oslo", and that this Peki toured with the Carrousel ensemble in Germany, Scandinavia, Italy and South America. This early alter ego could in fact be a reference to her Eurasian origin; Oslo/Peking. These claims were also confirmed by German transexual singer and actress Romy Haag [4] in her 1999 autobiography Eine Frau und mehr. Just like Ashley, Haag describes that she first got to know Lear under the name Peki d'Oslo at the Carrousel and that the two also worked together at Romy's own drag club Chez Romy in Berlin in the early 60's. In March 2007 legendary British manager Simon Napier-Bell (Dusty Springfield, The Yardbirds, Japan, Wham!) was the next witness to come forward, saying that "my publishers sent me off to Paris to make a record with Amanda Lear, someone I’d known years before as a young Asian-looking guy called Peki who hung out in the Gigolo, a gay bar in London in the 60s. Now that Peki had become Amanda, I wasn't interested anymore, but other people were - Amanda's new companion was Salvador Dali." (Simonnapierbell.com, 2007-03-12 [5])

The name Amanda Lear is also generally believed to be an alias, a conjunction of the English words A MAN and the last name of her mentor and father figure Salvador Dali, while others believe it to be the French "L'amant Dalì", The Lover Of Dalì. April Ashley has presented a slightly different and much simpler explanation; Peki D'Oslo had already changed her stage name to Amanda when she persuaded an elderly Scottish gentleman to marry her for 50 pounds so that she could get British citizenship; the gentleman just happened to be called Mr. Lear... Ashley also insists that Lear and Dalì met long before 1965, probably in 1959 or 1960 while Lear was still working at the Carrousel as a female impersonator - not a runway model, which has been the official version according to Lear herself. Some sources go even further, saying that Lear was Dalì's greatest - or possibly the most bizarre - artistic creation of his whole career, suggesting that he was the one who paid for a sex change operation that was to have taken place in Casablanca, Morocco in 1966. British actress Joanna Lumley, who herself was a fashion model in London in the mid 60's, has in several interviews confirmed that her Absolutely Fabulous character Patsy Stone was loosely based on the mysterious life story of a certain A. Lear... (Series 2, Episode 3: Morocco) [[6]]

In 1975, disillusioned by the shallow fashion industry and encouraged by boyfriend Bowie, Amanda decided to launch a career in music. The debut single La Bagarre released on French Polydor was a cover of Elvis Presley's Trouble and became a minor disco hit in West Germany in 1976 - catching the attention of label Ariola. Her first proper album I Am A Photograph was recorded in Munich's legendary Musicland Studios, with most songs composed by producer Anthony Monn and lyrics by Amanda herself. The title track was a tongue in cheek reference to her previous profession, but Lear's selfpenned, witty, provocative and sometimes even disturbing lyrics made it perfectly clear that there's more to this glam model than meets the eye. The album included her first paneuropean hit Blood And Honey (lyrically paraphrasing Dalì's 1941 painting "La Miel Es Más Dulce Que La Sangre"/"Honey Is Sweeter Than Blood"), the follow-up singles Queen Of Chinatown and Tomorrow, as well as cover versions of Nancy Sinatra's These Boots Are Made For Walkin' and Blue Tango, all of which have become repertoire standards. I Am A Photograph proved to be a very successful debut indeed, it included four top 10 singles in Italy and stayed on the West German albums chart for 33 weeks alone. The second edition of the album famously sported a free fold-out poster picturing a topless Amanda smiling knowingly towards the camera...


In 1978, Amanda continued her line of disco hits with Sweet Revenge, an album that opens with a side-long concept medley retelling the story of a girl who sells her soul to The Devil to gain fame and fortune... The first single to be lifted off Sweet Revenge, the seductive Follow Me, powered by Lear's characteristic deep and narrative voice, was an instant smash hit all over Europe and has since served as her signature tune. The album went on to sell in excess of 4 million copies and charted in 41 countries, including Chile, South Africa, India and Thailand where it stayed on the charts for 16 weeks, spawning further hits like Gold, Run Baby Run, Mother Look What They've Done To Me and Enigma (Give A Bit Of Mmmmh To Me). Again, all of these tracks were songwriting contributions by Lear herself and this in combination with a larger-than-life image very much the creation of herself made her one of the few artists of the Eurodisco era whose star power was bigger than the music itself - all according to plan, the Amanda Lear persona left an impact in European pop culture that has lasted to this very day. " - "Sweet Revenge" is of course the album I'm most proud of. I put so much of myself into it. I wrote the lyrics, created the double cover, chose the pictures. I tried to tell a story. So, at least for me, it is the best one." (Acme Celeb Interview)

Later in 1978 Lear and Monn teamed up for Never Trust A Pretty Face, an album that includes a discofied reimagining of Lili Marleen (" - The Germans obviously wanted a new Marlene Dietrich so that's what I gave them.", ) and featured a variety of genre exercises like the clever title track ballad ( "A pretty face/a rotten heart/I warned you from the start") and the cabaret-esque Miroirs, generating further hit singles like Fashion Pack (Studio 54). The lyrics of this particular Eurodisco classic actually mocks the decadent behaviour of the rich and famous and especially New York's disco glitterati, offering some serious namedropping in the process; Liza Minnelli, Francesco Scavullo, John Travolta, Andy Warhol, Margaux Hemingway, Bianca Jagger, Paloma Picasso etc. Another hit and standout track is The Sphinx which Amanda has since named as her personal favourite among her own recordings. She also very effectively continued to play on her 'devil in disguise' persona with the Never Trust A Pretty Face album sleeve artwork portraying her as a mythological creature in the Egyptian desert, smiling broadly, with beautiful angel's wings - but also with a snake's tail...

In late 1979, Lear recorded Diamonds For Breakfast which became her commercial breakthrough in Scandinavia, including hits like Fabulous Lover Love Me, Diamonds and Ho Fatto L'Amore Con Me, with Monn creating a slightly rougher rock/pop musical backdrop than previously, most likely in accordance with Amanda's own taste. She may very well have been the reigning White Queen of Disco but personally she didn't care all that much for the genre. " - I really wanted to be the new Tina Turner, a rock singer." Fabulous Lover Lover Me famously includes the lines "The surgeons built me so well/that nobody could tell/that I once was somebody else" which is as close to a confession of a former identity as Lear has come - before or since.

The Lear/Monn success saga neared its end with 1981's Incognito at which point Amanda herself had become increasingly uncomfortable with the expectations and pressures of the music business in general - and her German record label in particular. In 1980, at the artistic and commercial peak of her career, but with the disco backlash quickly approaching, she had tentatively started recording tracks for a forthcoming album with producer Trevor Horn in London. Ariola did not approve of this and in no uncertain terms made it clear that Lear was to return to Munich and provide the company and the market with another Monn product. The result of these sessions was Incognito which included minor European hits like Nymphomania, Égal and New York but paradoxally turned out to be her breakthrough album in South America, with three tracks especially recorded in Spanish.

Lear's career momentum was however slowing and came to an end in 1983 as she delivered her last album to the Ariola label - under contractual obligation. Unlike previous efforts, Tam Tam was recorded with Italian collaborators and neither the songs nor the production were anywhere near the high standards of the Musicland recordings with Monn. Tam Tam subsequently passed unnoticed by the European record buying public - which may very well have been a blessing in disguise for Lear, considering her frosty relationship with Ariola. Around the same time, she publicly began denouncing her earlier, "sub-standard", disco material. Instead she went on to launch a very successful career as a TV presenter with the aid of media mogul and future prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, soon becoming something of household name in what has since turned out to be her second home country, Italy.

In 1986, Amanda recorded Secret Passion in the United States for French label Carrere, a post-disco High Energy offering. It featured a cover of the Troggs' Wild Thing and was not only intended to be her comeback in Europe - this time on her own terms - but also hopefully her breakthrough in English speaking territories like the States, Canada and the United Kingdom, which were more or less the only markets she had never managed to conquer during the Ariola years. However disaster struck; just as Amanda was getting ready to start promoting the album she was seriously injured in a near fatal car accident and had to spend months in convalescence. The album subsequently went nowhere on either side of the Atlantic or anywhere else but this incident became the starting point of another phase in her career, this time as a writer. While in hospital, Amanda had begun writing her first novel called The Immortal, a slightly surrealistic tale describing the torments of a woman doomed to eternal youth and beauty, watching everyone else growing older and eventually losing all her loved ones, while being unable to stop the merciless passing of time....

Lear sporadically returned to recording in the late 80's and 90's and released singles and albums produced in Italy, France and Germany, none of them producing that elusive hit. Instead she has been focussing on her career in television and movies - also mainly in Italy, France and Germany - as well as pursuing what she still describes as her greatest passion: art. From the mid 80's, she has exhibited in major galleries all over Europe and also in the United States and, during the last 10 years, her time has been largely spent painting, exhibiting and lecturing on Dalì.

In 2001, a year after having tragically lost her beloved husband of 21 years in a much publicised accident, she threw herself back into work and released the aptly titled album Heart. While most of her recordings during the 80's and 90's, with a few exceptions, may have been perceived as somewhat uninspired, not as musically varied as during the Ariola years, quite often suffering from poor production and primarily catering to her ever loyal disco following, Heart was a major progression. It was obvious that it was a serious effort with Lear's own heart and soul involved. Besides exuberant and club-friendly tracks like hit singles I Just Wanna Dance Again, with remixes by the likes of Pumpin' Dolls and Junior Vasquez, and cult 70's TV-theme Love Boat, Heart also featured intimate and sparsely orchestrated interpretations of personal favourites like Charles Aznavour/Dusty Springfield's bittersweet ballad Hier Encore (Yesterday When I Was Young) as well as Springfield's 1967 classic The Look Of Love along with a thoughtful - and between the lines highly political - re-reading of Lili Marleen with updated lyrics by original composer Norbert Schultze. Heart was a return to glory and turned out to be her best-selling album since the late 70's in both France and Germany and has been re-released under the titles Tendance and Love Boat.

In 2002 Amanda met Italian actor and model Manuel Casella, 30 (35? 40?) years her junior. He has been her 'longtime companion' ever since.

CD Compilation "Forever Glam - The Best Of 1976 - 2005"In 2005 Italian dance act The Housekeepers scored a major club hit with "Go Down", a reworking of Amanda's 1977 hit "Queen Of Chinatown". With the disco revival obviously still in full swing, and Lear celebrating 30 years in the music buiness, 2005 also saw the release of the first CD compilation to be authorized and promoted by Lear herself; Forever Glam - The Best Of 1976 - 2005. (Edina Music, France). In 2006 this was followed by German Sony BMG's comprehensive 3 CD box set The Sphinx - Das Beste Aus Den Jahren 1976 - 1983. This digitally remastered 42 track collection was eagerly awaited by many fans since the original Ariola albums never have been re-released in their entirety on CD. In the liner note interview of the latter, Lear expresses a new-found acceptance and appreciation of her disco past: " - It surprises me that the younger generations keep re-discovering this type of music, over and over again. They really seem to like these old recordings, still after such a long time. Perhaps they weren't so bad after all."

2006 Album "With Love"On 30th October 2006 the album With Love was released in France by label Dance Street. This tribute is to great effect an extension of 2001's Heart as it exclusively covers evergreens and jazz standards by the diva's own favourite divas, among them C'est Magnifique (Eartha Kitt), Is That All There Is? (Peggy Lee), Whatever Lola Wants (Sarah Vaughan), Love For Sale (Hildegard Knef) and My Baby Just Cares For Me (Nina Simone). With Love was critically hailed as the most personal and heartfelt album of her whole musical career and was released in the rest of Europe by label ZYX Music in early 2007.

In January 2007 Amanda Lear received the prestigious award "Chevalier Dans L'ordre National Des Arts Et Des Lettres" by the French Ministre Of Culture Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres in recognition of her thirty years of contributions to French culture.

Amanda Lear is an icon, a cult figure and a living legend who lives a myth, a mystery. To this day, no-one knows for sure where or when she was born or where or how she spent her childhood. Or if they do, they're not telling. Amanda Lear herself may very well tell you, but by now, most people believe it's all made up, and she knows most people believe it's all made up but she sticks by it because she likes the mystery, the ambiguity, the enigma - and so do her legions of fans. Fifteen years living with Salvador Dali and his wife Gala have left her with a beautiful sense of the surreal.

Amanda Lear has recorded 13 albums to date and has also released more than 50 singles. She has sold approximately 10 million albums and 25-30 million singles worldwide.

Amanda Lear currently resides in Saint-Etienne-du-Grès near Avignon in the south of France.

Discography

Albums

1977: I Am A Photograph (LP - unreleased on CD)
1977: O.S.T. The Pyjama Girl Case
(2 trks, "Your Yellow Pyjama" & "Look At Her Dancing") (LP - unreleased On CD)
1978: Sweet Revenge
1979: Never Trust A Pretty Face (LP - unreleased on CD)
1980: Diamonds For Breakfast (LP - unreleased on CD)
1981: Incognito (LP - unreleased on CD)
1982: Ieri, Oggi
(Compilation including "Incredibilmente Donna", "Buon Viaggio" & "Your Yellow Pyjama", Italy) (LP - unreleased on CD)
1983: Tam Tam (LP - unreleased on CD)
1985: Amanda Lear Sings (Compilation of Ariola recordings, USSR)
1987: Secret Passion (LP - unreleased on CD)
1990: Uomini Piú Uomini (Italy) (LP - unreleased on CD)
1990: Tant Qu'il Y Aura Des Hommes (France) (LP - unreleased on CD)
1993: Cadavrexquis
1995: Alter Ego
1998: Back In Your Arms
(Compilation; 90's singles and re-recordings of greatest hits - Italy)
2000: Follow Me...Back In My Arms
(German edition of "Back In Your Arms" with slightly different tracklisting)
2001: Heart
2005: Forever Glam - The Best of 1976-2005
(Compilation; greatest hits, 4 new recordings and 2 rarities - France)
2006: The Sphinx : Das Beste Aus Den Jahren 1976-1983
(3 CD Boxed Set; greatest hits, 42 trks - Germany)
2006: With Love

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