In 1961 Apache, Les Alphas, les Challengers, Jacques Dutronc, Claude Puterflam, le système Crapoutchik, les Nostalgics these could be the main actors of a movie which was Krapou, Ady, Christian and their guitars.
In the grammar school of Drancy, a Paris suburb in 1961 Gerard Krawczynski, was 12 years old, he was in the fifth class, and was the best in music, he spent his free time to build aeroplane models with his friends, the radio was on, when suddenly a piece was airplay, with a brand new sound, a good melody, they stopped their building activities to listen to that music: the Shadows were playing Apache.
Of course Gerard and his fellows liked r & r, but Apache, was something else, they were fascinated by this sound, by the guitars, by this kind of music. It was over with the models, their new passion was the guitar. During the summer holidays, Gerard got job in printing company and with the money he earned he bought the instrument he had been dreaming of: a guitar. He was then teaching himself and practising the shadows pieces note for notes just like Hank Marvin.
With his friend Christian Padovan, who played drums, they started to rehearse on the balcony of Gerard ‘s house. One day a guy, Daniel Bodon, was walking in the street when he heard Gerard and Christian playing. He went up to the balcony, they got on well together and made up their mind to set up a band. Daniel was a drummer, Christian turned to bass. We were in 1962 the band was named les Alphas. Alain Delaby, rhythm, who played for the Alans, joined them. They well trained enough to start playing in the cultural centre. their instruments were a Burns’s bass, with a Vox amplifier as well as Gerard ‘s Hoffner with a self-made amplifier (using the loud speaker of a cheap record player named Teppaz !)
In 1963 they were given the chance to appear on a daily TV program at noon, just before the TV news. They played Amapola. Then they got some gigs and crossed some famous musicians like Los Cangaceiros. One day like in a fairy tale, they met in Reims in a nightclub, a young woman who was so fond of their capabilities, that she offered them Fender Stratocasters !
With such equipment they sound really improved and they appeared in the Golf Drouot, in the Friday’s night contest that they won.
In 1964 they already had a manager who has good connections with Radio Luxembourg they were introduced to Jean Velbin and jean Deluze two disc jockeys. They made them cut 6 tracks in a studio rue de la Croix Nivert in Paris. The tape is brought to the attention of the Vogue label, which signed them on the spot. They issued four of tracks and changed the band’s name to Les Challengers.
Then at the end 1964 they cut a second EP, which sold moderately like the first one.
When recording for vogue they crossed Jacques Dutronc and Ady Kalafat who played together with Les Cyclones. Jacques Dutronc was to become a very popular singer and then a brilliant actor. Jacques lent Gerard his Gretsch for the second session.
The big chance for Gerard was to meet Claude Puterflam, who was a talentscout and a singer for the Vogue label. He made him record an instrumental album with Jacques Dutronc and Jean Pierre Alarcen, where they played Shadows tunes.
Then it was in 1967 when Dutronc made his first big hit that he gave the band a name: systeme Crapoutchik. The band cut a record in 1968 and was to stay together till 1971 never making a breakthrough. Gerard became Crapou !
Afterwards Gerard played in various bands backing top singers or the rock opera Hair. He was then considered as a good session man. He made session for the singers: Michel Berger, France gall, Sardou, Jonasz, Françoise Hardy, julien Clerc,M.Le Forestier and penned some hits like “j’ai eu trente ans ” sung by Julien Clerc.
Claude Puterflam in the meantime made a huge hit in 1974 and with his earnings invested in a recording studio, that he called Gang.
In 1981 he got the idea to have Gerard and his friends cut a Shadowslike album. It was under the name Les Nostalgics. Geared and Ady penned most of the tracks,destination X was taken by France inter a big Radio station as a program theme. The Beatnicks in Norway in their last CD recently covered this tune.
Afterwards Gerard” Krapou” made an album Crapou & Lable which his in the country jazz rock style with self-penned tracks a good cover of sleepwalk.
They used to gather from time to time in nightclub near Montparnasse: L’Utopia where they play shadows tracks. The band is worth listening with such musicians as Krapou, Rene Le Barre , a guitarist playing with F. Cabrel, a top star in France, Gilles Michel on bass and Ph. Le Roux on drums.
G. «Krapou» : Une référence, les rythmiques de Bruce Welch sont fantastiques de précision, de rigueur, Bennett à la batterie est un métronome inspiré, le jeu de Hank est unique. J’ai eu la chance de composer pour les Shadows, je dois être le seul français qui a eu cet honneur.
Quels sont tes guitaristes préférés ?
G. «Krapou» : En dehors des Shadows, j’aime Big Jim Sullivan, les Ventures, Chet Atkins, et Romane.
Marvin m’a raconté un jour qu’ils avaient failli enregistrer une chanson des Beatles (P.MC Cartney) Here there and everywhere.
Ta dernière séance ?
G. «Krapou» : Elle n’est pas encore arrivée. Mon dernier album Crapou & Lable (ex guitariste de Julien Clerc), Denys Lable est un vieux complice , nous avons fait cet album en 1994, on en trouve un morceau « Sweet Georgia Brown » dans l’album récent Autour de la guitare où figurent Romane, Slim Pezin, Distel, Cabrel (voir nouveautés p 8).
Nous jouons régulièrement à l’Utopia (79, rue l’Ouest dans le 14°), 40 morceaux dont cosy, rumble, little B. la formation se compose de René Le Barre (guitariste de Cabrel), Gilles Michel, basse (ex Michel Souchon), Ph. Le Roux à la batterie et moi même.
Merci Krapou et à bientôt à l’Utopia.
- (Pas de titre) (Flamophone / Carrère CA 671 67.859)
Juke box swing/ Ombre et lumière / Souvenirs d’adieu / Pony-Express / Guitar Héros / Ramdam / Slow flirt / Destination X / Electric choc / Quia des Orfèvres.
33 tours 30 cm sorti en 1982