Franck Pourcel

Born: August 11th, 1913, Marseilles (France)
Died: November 12th, 2000, Neuilly-sur-Seine (France)
Nationality: French

Franck Pourcel studied violin and percussion at conservatories in Marseilles and Paris. Before World War II, he was a musician working in theatres and nightclubs and also ventured on the path of musical directorship, conducting records and concerts of Yves Montand, Jacques Pills, and Lucienne Boyer. Between 1952 and 1953, he lived in New York, obtaining the member card of the American Union of Musicians. In ’53, he returned to France and was signed by record producer Maurice Tézé in Paris. Tézé helped Pourcel fulfilling a long-cherished dream: having a recording orchestra of his own. He hand-picked the musicians with whom he wanted to work; these included Paul Mauriat, Raymond Lefèvre, and Michel Legrand.

Pourcel’s first recordings in ‘53, ‘Blue Tango’ and ‘Limelight’, were instant commercial successes. His trademark became the re-working of hit-records to string-dominated, romantically sounding easy-listening versions. From 1954 onwards, he worked on no fewer than 56 long-playing records in the series ‘Amour, danse et violons’ and about 150 other albums. After the smashing success of his version of ‘Only you’ in the USA (1959, labelled ‘Franck Pourcel and the French Fiddlers’), he got commissions for American labels as well. Records of his were released in 58 countries around the world, including Japan. In the late 1960s, he ventured writing new arrangements to Viennese waltzes and other light classical repertoire. The number of records sold was so impressive, that he came to be considered one of France’s main export products.

Pourcel toured the globe with his ensemble, performing in America, Japan, and South America. He recorded albums with the best-known English classical orchestras, amongst which the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra. In 1972, he was a guest of honour at the Sanremo Festival in Italy; especially for the occasion, he arranged a medley of all songs competing in that year’s contest, which he conducted during the show’s final evening.

With his orchestra, he accompanied many artists in the recording studio; these include most of the singers with whom he travelled to the Eurovision Song Contest. Pourcel was the regular French conductor between 1956 and 1972, only missing out twice, in 1957 and 1968. Amongst the entries he conducted, were four winners (‘Dors mon amour’ by André Claveau in 1958, ‘Tom Pillibi’ by Jacqueline Boyer in 1960, ‘Un premier amour’ by Isabelle Aubret in 1962, and ‘Un jour, un enfant’ by Frida Boccara in 1969), making Pourcel one of the most successful conductors in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest. Moreover, he was the musical director of the festivals staged in Cannes in 1959 and 1961. All in all, he led the orchestra during 16 French entries and seven entries from other countries, bringing him to a total of 23 entries conducted in the contest. In this respect, he is only beaten by Eurovision legend Noel Kelehan from Ireland (29 performances).

In due course, a more extensive biography of Franck Pourcel will be published on this website



Songs conducted
1956: Le temps perdu
1956: Il est là
1958: Dors mon amour
1959: Oui, oui, oui, oui
1959: Mon ami Pierrot
1959: Heute abend woll´n wir tanzen geh´n
1959: Augustin
1959: Irgendwoher
1959: Der K. und K. Kalypso aus Wien
1960: Tom Pillibi
1961: Sehnsucht
1961: Einmal sehen wir uns wieder
1961: Printemps (avril carillonne)
1962: Un premier amour
1963: Elle était si jolie
1964: Le chant de Mallory
1965: N'avoue jamais
1966: Chez nous
1967: Il doit faire beau là-bas
1969: Un jour, un enfant
1970: Marie Blanche
1971: Un jardin sur la terre
1972: Comé-comédie

Musical director
1959: Cannes
1961: Cannes