Jo Carlier

Born: September 4th, 1930, Bois-de-Breux, Liège (Belgium)
Died: April 25th, 2001, Liège (Belgium)
Nationality: Belgian

At fourteen, Jo Carlier started studying the trumpet at the conservatory. He made his debut as an instrumentalist in the orchestra of Jean Dari from Liege. Later, Carlier became an orchestra leader himself and for many years he was the musical director of the International Festival of French Chanson in Spa, accompanying the likes of Maxime Le Forestier, Francis Cabrel, and Alain Souchon. Furthermore, either as an instrumentalist or as a conductor, he worked with Jacques Dutronc, Gilbert Bécaud, Jean Vallée, Johnny Hallyday, Jacques Brel, Ray Ventura, and Juliette Gréco. Jo Carlier retired in 1988.

Jo Carlier first appearance in the Eurovision Song Contest was in 1984, when he conducted the Belgian entry ‘Avanti la vie’, composed and arranged by Henri Seroka and sung by Jacques Zegers. Two years later, Carlier led the orchestra during the winning performance of Sandra Kim in Bergen, Norway; Belgium’s victory in 1986 with ‘J’aime la vie’ remains the country’s only win in the Eurovision Song Contest to date. The orchestration to the song was written by Jean-Paul Lebens and Carlier’s old Flemish friend Freddy Sunder, who had regularly been a member of Carlier’s orchestra in Spa. When the festival came to Belgium in 1987, Carlier was commissioned to hand-pick an orchestra to accompany the participating songs. The Belgian entry being from the Dutch-speaking part of the country, it was conducted by Freddy Sunder; Carlier himself stood in front of his orchestra during the Cypriot entry ‘Aspro-mavro’ as well as during the rendition of host Viktor Lazlo’s song ‘Breathless’, which opened the show.

In due course, a more extensive biography of Jo Carlier will be published on this website


Songs conducted
1984: Avanti la vie
1986: J'aime la vie
1987: Aspro-mavro

Musical director
1987: Brussels