Olivier DESPAX


Le gentleman de la guitare
As soon as he was two years old, Olivier got stick to the music; he used to put his ear close to the radio set. When the Second World War was over, Olivier was 5 years old and was listening again and again mer the Charles Trenet hit. When he was 9 years old his father offered him a guitar and put him in the hand oh a highly ranked guitar teacher: Monsieur Ruozzo. He cheered him up to become a guitarist. When Mr Ruozzo passed away, Olivier took into consideration his advice et went on learning guitar with Djouri Cortez, a gypsy guitarist. When he was 15 years old, as a birthday gift he was given the chance to cut a record with his teacher Djouri Cortez.

Djouri recommended him to learn reading music. He went to the lessons given by Miss Rueff at the Conservatoire, (music high school), who taught him the secrets of music. When he was 17 years old, Olivier discovered the jazz and used to attend the jazz evenings at Hot club de France, he jammed with the famous jazzmen, like jimmy Gourley visiting Paris, in various night clubs of the French jazz scene like the Mars club in Saint Germain des Prés, the famous Paris place were most of the universities were.

When Olivier was 20 years old he was drafted to the army and sent to Algeria, where the French army was fighting against the liberation movement (FLN). Olivier stayed 28 months in Algeria away from Paris and the music he loved so much. In 1962 he went back to the civilian life and was offered to join the Eddie Barclay famous band. After some months playing with such talented musicians, Olivier made up his mind to set up his own band; Eddie Barclay offered him a recording contract with his own record company, Barclay label. In the summer Olivier and his band went to the Riviera in Saint Tropez, where he played in the various places crowded by the jet set society like the Papagayo! Olivier’s band featured: Jean Pierre Sabard, organ, Klaus Hagl, drums, Ricardo Galazzi, bass, Pierre Maté, saxo tenor, J.M.Dariès, saxo baritone and the future singer Claude François, tambourine.

The favourite teenager dances were changing after the twist, it’s Madison time. Olivier is named mister Madison in charge of promoting this new dance. This allowed him to teach this new trend dance to the famous actress Brigitte Bardot, who was happy to seduce this young handsome guitarist. In Autumn Olivier and his band went back to Paris, where became the gamblers. They cut their second record, a 25cm LP dedicated to the Madison. Olivier player Madison time time as well you can’t sit down rearranged in Madison way.

Then it was time for a second record, Olivier recorded a good cover of Duane Eddy’s dance with the guitar man. The made it a hit and the Tv programs were looking after this talented young guitarist. He appeared in many shows, even with Brigitte Bardot for the New Year’s Eve famous program !

With 1963 Olivier recorded his third Ep with the usual four tracks which were barcarolle,, loin de Venice, … François Reichenbach , a famous French movie director, hired Olivier in his movie less amoureux du France. For the summer season, Olivier made his fourth Ep with Bert Weedon’s Ginchy, Salut Ray (dedicated to Ray Charles), and Teensville, the Chet Atkins piece.

Olivier was high in demand for tours and shows, he was on the same bill as Dick Rivers, one of the French favourite rockers at the Bobino Theatre, then he made the Olympia, most famous show place in Paris, at the same bill as Frank Sinatra! IN 1965 he toured France with Ronnie Bird and Dick Rivers.

In 1966 Olivier crossed the channel and went to the London’s studio where he cut his seventh Ep . The year after he made several Tv shows, having his own program “allégro” where he invited fellow musicians and singers and was playing too. Then he tried to become a crooner, with his playboy look. He was doing well up to the middle of the summer 1969, when playing in Saint Tropez he was suddenly feeling exhausted. He went back to Paris for medical exams. Professeur Mathé a well known specialist in Villejuif prescribed him to rest . Olivier had been fighting 5 years against this cruel disease, which finally carried him away in the very first days of 1974. France had lost one his best young guitarist.



Discographie (60)

  1. (Pas de titre) (Barclay EP 72548)
    The Madison / Paris Madison / A little bit of shout (1 & 2).
  2. (Pas de titre) (Barclay EP 72575)
    Guitar man / Mashed potatoes / Strechin out / Summer kiss.
  3. (Pas de titre) (Barclay EP 72605)
    Ginchy / Jada / Salut Ray / Teensville.
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