DANIEL FILIPACCHI

   I was looking for Radio Luxemburg, which was hard to find under the whistles, crackles and distortions, but the only radio station that played American music, when I came across a new program with Daniel Filipacchi and Suzie that was playing all the Billboard hits. Daniel had an attractive voice, an intimate easy style, and Suzy spoke French with an adorable American accent. That’s where I first heard Paul Anka in “Crazy love” and “You are my destiny”. I lived a monastic existence in which boys were forbidden, but with my cheek against the transistor radio, I closed my eyes and imagined.
   Maybe I dreamt really hard, I must have, because a few days before my 16th birthday I would be hanging onto a mike in Eddie Barclay’s recording studio. Behind the panel in the control room I could see him waving his cigar and smiling while I sang a jazz classic “Making whoopee”. I had no idea that Eddie was a jazz buff. It was such a thrill I took off my shoes and always recorded barefoot from then on. I couldn’t remember who was accompanying me on the piano, Michel Legrand or Jacques Loussier, I was just so much in awe of what was happening, all I knew was that this was the best it could ever get. I didn’t think of what could happen next. When Eddie called me into the control room to listen to the tape I didn’t recognize myself, it was the strangest thing ever, breathy and teasing, the emotions were magnified, this was me, I was startled.
   Daniel’s program Salut Les Copains on Europe 1 was a fantastic success, and in the evening he had another, Pour Ceux Qui Aiment Le Jazz that I listened to also. Soon after “Ma première cigarette“ was released he asked if I’d like to present his program with him: I’d be his Suzie once a week. And I’d get to choose the playing list. Does heaven exist! I was levitating…unbeknown to Daniel, the schoolgirl was still alive and bubbling under my sophisticated cool exterior, and he was so charming and funny that with one look and half a smile I’d be doubled up with laughter. I was just so happy and free…the director of Europe 1 was not amused.
   Daniel was The Mentor. An innovator with an élan vital that swept through all those who were fortunate to work with him. Ambitious, driven, he never let go of a project until he’d seen it through. He’d only drop out if the project, flawed from the beginning but of sentimental value, proved to be insurmountably impossible to be redeemed. Those who joined him in his adventure admired and trusted him. He was loved. Which is special.
   Inquisitive, warm, charismatic, the man was elegance itself. He could have a sense of humor, at least with me (the little English one) that consisted of playing simple pranks at my expense. He didn’t know my mother had a pronounced Polish accent. My father was elsewhere. I had lived in various countries before arriving in France just shy of my 9th birthday. The first language I spoke fluently was Swiss German. Replaced by German and English. When I adopted French I forced myself to forget German in six months. I let it go as I let go of my father.
   There is no doubt that Daniel had an enormous influence on a new generation who wanted an image that resembled them. In the beginning was Johnny Hallyday, a romantic prototype that the boys identified with and the girls wanted for themselves. As for myself, it felt unreal and the sweetest too, when “Ma première cigarette” was on the radio. At the beginning I was the only girl singer and very soon others joined in, this was so important because we had to form a solid whole. My artistic director didn’t know where to put me. He seemed to have agreements with various publishing companies. What I liked he wouldn’t listen to. In the end I stopped. But after a while, I just couldn’t help forming songs in my head. Mickey Baker did the arrangements for my come back as a writer and a singer. On my last French recording, “Rien n’est changé” is the first song I wrote with a guitar. And then I left for England to find out what Englishness was all about. What I found was that I had left behind something. My heart. There is a beach in Nice to which I belong. From this beach I have a pebble, half grey, half pink, wrapped in cellophane.
   What interests me is the salt that covers the stone. The salt is my instant in time. That splash that I refuse to let go of.