Plastic Bertrand
Plastic Bertrand

Plastic Bertrand

About Plastic Bertrand

Belgium's greatest contribution to the early punk/new wave revolution, Plastic Bertrand was the persona of Roger François Jouret, a vocalist and songwriter who scored an international hit with "Ça Plane pour Moi," an irresistibly silly punk parody that became a major success in Europe and the United Kingdom, and even popped up in the lower reaches of the American pop charts. Plastic Bertrand's formula was simple and effective -- upbeat melodies low on frills and heavy on hooks, accompanied by Jouret's cheerfully monotone vocals (though the voice wasn't always his own) and lyrics that poked tongue-in-cheek fun at contemporary culture. His 1978 debut album (released in Europe as An 1 and in North America as Ça Plane pour Moi) is his strongest LP, while the 2003 compilation King of the Divan: Best of Plastic Bertrand collects his best-known singles and fan favorites.
Roger François Jouret was born in Brussels, Belgium on February 24, 1954. He developed a taste for rock & roll early on, and formed his first band when he was nine years old; called the Buffalo Scouts Band, the members were friends from his boy scout troop, and they played Rolling Stones covers with Jouret on drums and vocals. Several years later, he joined the Pelicans, who went from playing parties to rock clubs and occasional music festivals on the Dutch and Belgian coasts. After a brief spell working at a pirate radio station, Jouret started studying music formally, and was accepted at Brussels's Royal Conservatory of Music. In the mid-'70s, he joined a protopunk band called Hubble Bubble, contributing drums and vocals under the name Roger Junior. He appeared on their self-titled 1977 debut album, but he soon went solo after the group's manager introduced him to songwriter and producer Lou Deprijck. Deprijck had written a catchy punk knockoff and was looking for the right vocalist to record the tune. As it happened, Jouret was unavailable for the recording and Deprijck handled the vocals himself, but Jouret was brought on board to be the public face of the project, and under the name Plastic Bertrand, he was ostensibly star of "Ça Plane pour Moi."
Issued in 1977, "Ça Plane pour Moi" became an unexpected global hit, landing on charts all over Europe and in the U.K., and became only the second French-language single to crack the Pop Top 100 in the United States. (The American chart placement was especially impressive since it was competing with an English language version of the song, "Jet Boy, Jet Girl," recorded by Canadian new wave vocalist Elton Motello.) In 1978, the first Plastic Bertrand album, titled An 1 in Europe and Ça Plane pour Moi in English-speaking territories, was released, followed by J'te Fais un Plan in 1979 and L'album in 1980. In the years that followed, Lou Deprijck would periodically allege that he was the lead vocalist on the first three Plastic Bertrand albums, not Jouret; after years of fervent denials, Jouret acknowledged he was not the vocalist on those recordings in a 2010 interview, though he had performed the songs well in live appearances.
Plastic Bertrand finally appeared in front of the vocal mike on his fourth album, 1981's Plastiquez Vos Baffles, while a Greatest Hits album appeared the same year. In 1982, he left Belgium for Italy, settling in Milan and becoming the star of a television series, as well as appearing in a popular photo novel that told a story in comic book style, but with photos rather than drawings, a style known in Italy as fumetti. Bertrand collaborated with Anni-Frid Lyngstad of ABBA and Daniel Balavoine to create ABBAcadabra, a musical for children based on ABBA's hits. He also dabbled in acting and wrote music for the film Astérix et la Surprise de César, based on the adventures of the French comic book hero. Chat Va? … Et Toi?, a dance-oriented album, came out in 1983, and in 1987, he sang Luxembourg's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, "Amour Amour." After 1989's Pix, Bertrand shifted his focus to songwriting and producing other artists, and 1994's Suite Diagonal would be his last album of the millennium.
In the late '90s, European MTV declared Plastic Bertrand the artist who was most wanted to stage a comeback, and in 1998 the Belgian boy band Get Ready recorded a cover of Bertrand's "Stop … Ou Encore" with Bertrand on guest vocals. The single was a major hit in Belgium, and soon he was once again a regular guest on European television and a popular live attraction. An album of fresh material, Ultraterrestre, arrived in 2004. He got a major career boost in Japan when "Ça Plane pour Moi" was used in a popular soft drink commercial, leading to more touring in the country and increased gigging in Europe. Dandy Bandit came out in 2009, and Bertrand kept up a busy schedule of live work and hosting television variety shows, though 11 years on he found time to bring out another album, 2020's L'expérience Humaine. ~ Mark Deming

    Brussels, Belgium
    February 24, 1954

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