Jacques Brel succumbed to lung cancer on 9 October 1978. A great Belgian author, composer, poet and film-maker, Jacques experienced a level of success that has rarely been equalled and is still considered one of the greatest performers of French ‘chanson’. Forty years later, a new book, “Jacques Brel: le voyage au bout de la vie,” reveals a different aspect of his life, namely his adventures in the Marquesas Islands, which were his last refuge.
He had a career that spanned 13 years, sold more than 25 million albums around the world and made countless hits that easily spring to mind. Jacques Brel was without a doubt one of the most talented Belgian artists ever. He began his career in 1953 in the cabarets and moved to Paris. It was not until 1957 and the end of the years of scarcity that the great Jacques Brel really became well known. His first major success came with “Quand on n’a que l’amour“, after which the hits and records kept on coming. Brel lived and breathed concerts for ten years until 1967, by which time he was exhausted and decided to put an end to his career.
After trying his hand at the cinema, he embarked on a world tour. He was suffering from lung cancer and decided to settle in the Marquesas Islands, where he remained for the rest of his life. For his book, Fred Hidalgo collected testimony from artists and loved ones, as well as photos and stories about this period in Brel’s life. The author and former journalist talks about this adventure, which was infused with Brel’s devotion to the residents of the Islands. Achieving his dream of piloting a plane, he provided a number of services for the local population, including bringing in supplies and mail and transporting people in need. Just before his death, he asked to be buried on the island.
The book has the ambitious aim of retracing a little-known period in the life of this magnificent artist.
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