Richard Clayderman

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At a Glance

Birthname: Philippe Pag
Nationality: French
Born: Dec 28 1953


Biography

He never intended to be a performer - let alone become a superstar. But over a 35-year career, Richard Clayderman has sold 85 million albums. Today, his distinctive piano reinterpretations of familiar tunes from every era and genre are still heard in every corner of the world. Whether we know it or not, his music has become the soundtrack of our lives.

So who is Richard Clayderman?

The 58-year-old* Frenchman – born Philippe Pagès – is arguably the world's most successful pianist. With his trademark style of smooth, lavishly orchestrated reinterpretations of popular hits, show tunes ... Read more

He never intended to be a performer - let alone become a superstar. But over a 35-year career, Richard Clayderman has sold 85 million albums. Today, his distinctive piano reinterpretations of familiar tunes from every era and genre are still heard in every corner of the world. Whether we know it or not, his music has become the soundtrack of our lives.

So who is Richard Clayderman?

The 58-year-old* Frenchman – born Philippe Pagès – is arguably the world's most successful pianist. With his trademark style of smooth, lavishly orchestrated reinterpretations of popular hits, show tunes and well-known pieces from the classical repertoire, he has come to define a certain brand of Easy Listening. You could call it the original Chill-Out music.

Clayderman has collected 267 gold and 70 platinum discs in almost every country in the world. Not bad for a session musician who became a star by accident.

As a small boy, he could read music better than his native French. At 12 he won a place at the Paris Conservatoire and graduated with first prize. But instead of embarking on a career as a classical pianist, he became a studio musician to support his sick father and young family.

Until one day in 1977 when he received a call from French music producer Olivier Toussaint, who was looking for a pianist to play a brand new tune composed to celebrate his musical partner Paul de Senneville's newly-born daughter Adeline.

“I started out with a list of 20 pianists and auditioned 12 of them,” recalls Toussaint.
“But as soon as I heard Richard play, I knew he was the right one. He had a soft touch and a good technique but, just as importantly for me, he was also modest, charming and a good-looking guy, with none of the arrogance of some others I had met.”

Clayderman echoes his words. “I was seduced by the melody as soon as I heard the song,” he says. “But I had no idea it would become such a huge success. I think the secret is simple: it is a melody that is simple and beautiful, and touches people's hearts.”

The producers persuaded Philippe Pagès to change his name to Richard Clayderman – using his Swedish grandmother's maiden name – to make it easier to pronounce outside France, expecting their collaboration to last perhaps six months.

“I just wanted someone to play this one song and that it would be great if the record sold 10,000 copies,” says Toussaint. “I never imagined I was meeting a guy for a 50-year career. Who would imagine that a French pianist would become one of the best known musicians in the world?”

Extraordinarily, and unlike any pop song before it, the popularity of Ballade Pour Adeline spread slowly around the globe over the next five or six years, conquering one country after another until there was almost no corner of the world immune to its melodic charms.

In the UK, for example, Clayderman became a household name through Decca's innovative direct marketing campaign on TV, selling his music by mail order rather than the traditional route of record shops. In the 1980s he became a fixture on TV screens, often as a guest of Des O'connor, and he still recalls “early-morning trips to a frozen Pebble Mill” - as well as the time Paul McCartney came to his dressing room to congratulate him on his success.

For the past 35 years Clayderman's boyish blond good looks and distinctive piano style have made him instantly recognisable all over the world as a man whose records sell millions and whose concerts sell out as soon as they are announced.

Yet Richard Clayderman never set out to become a star – or even to perform onstage. “I never imagined becoming a performer,” he says. “I was very happy being a session musician.”

So what is the secret to his enduring success? A shy man who does not drink, smoke or drink coffee, he believes it is the “romance” of his style. It's also the golden rule he uses to choose songs in a repertoire that encompasses every genre and style: “a good melody and a good arrangement.”

But it's more than that. Hard work, more than anything: Clayderman gets up at 5.30am most mornings and practises for three or four hours every day. He tours and records more than ever – he has released more than 50 albums. Away from stage and studio, he has been busy moving house 12 times in the past 12 years in his search for the perfect family home, finally settling on the edge of a forest west of Paris, near Versailles.

He admits classical musicians occasionally question his style but says that, whenever they see him play a concert, they are surprised. Not only by his skilled technique, but by the open delight he inspires in his audience. “I think they mock me and envy me at the same time,” he smiles. “But I am not a frustrated classical musician. I had my classical training and now I do what I do, in my own way. I regret nothing – je ne regrette rien.”

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

He never intended to be a performer - let alone become a superstar. But over a 35-year career, Richard Clayderman has sold 85 million albums. Today, his distinctive piano reinterpretations of familiar tunes from every era and genre are still heard in every corner of the world. Whether we know it or not, his music has become the soundtrack of our lives.

So who is Richard Clayderman?

The 58-year-old* Frenchman – born Philippe Pagès – is arguably the world's most successful pianist. With his trademark style of smooth, lavishly orchestrated reinterpretations of popular hits, show tunes and well-known pieces from the classical repertoire, he has come to define a certain brand of Easy Listening. You could call it the original Chill-Out music.

Clayderman has collected 267 gold and 70 platinum discs in almost every country in the world. Not bad for a session musician who became a star by accident.

As a small boy, he could read music better than his native French. At 12 he won a place at the Paris Conservatoire and graduated with first prize. But instead of embarking on a career as a classical pianist, he became a studio musician to support his sick father and young family.

Until one day in 1977 when he received a call from French music producer Olivier Toussaint, who was looking for a pianist to play a brand new tune composed to celebrate his musical partner Paul de Senneville's newly-born daughter Adeline.

“I started out with a list of 20 pianists and auditioned 12 of them,” recalls Toussaint.
“But as soon as I heard Richard play, I knew he was the right one. He had a soft touch and a good technique but, just as importantly for me, he was also modest, charming and a good-looking guy, with none of the arrogance of some others I had met.”

Clayderman echoes his words. “I was seduced by the melody as soon as I heard the song,” he says. “But I had no idea it would become such a huge success. I think the secret is simple: it is a melody that is simple and beautiful, and touches people's hearts.”

The producers persuaded Philippe Pagès to change his name to Richard Clayderman – using his Swedish grandmother's maiden name – to make it easier to pronounce outside France, expecting their collaboration to last perhaps six months.

“I just wanted someone to play this one song and that it would be great if the record sold 10,000 copies,” says Toussaint. “I never imagined I was meeting a guy for a 50-year career. Who would imagine that a French pianist would become one of the best known musicians in the world?”

Extraordinarily, and unlike any pop song before it, the popularity of Ballade Pour Adeline spread slowly around the globe over the next five or six years, conquering one country after another until there was almost no corner of the world immune to its melodic charms.

In the UK, for example, Clayderman became a household name through Decca's innovative direct marketing campaign on TV, selling his music by mail order rather than the traditional route of record shops. In the 1980s he became a fixture on TV screens, often as a guest of Des O'connor, and he still recalls “early-morning trips to a frozen Pebble Mill” - as well as the time Paul McCartney came to his dressing room to congratulate him on his success.

For the past 35 years Clayderman's boyish blond good looks and distinctive piano style have made him instantly recognisable all over the world as a man whose records sell millions and whose concerts sell out as soon as they are announced.

Yet Richard Clayderman never set out to become a star – or even to perform onstage. “I never imagined becoming a performer,” he says. “I was very happy being a session musician.”

So what is the secret to his enduring success? A shy man who does not drink, smoke or drink coffee, he believes it is the “romance” of his style. It's also the golden rule he uses to choose songs in a repertoire that encompasses every genre and style: “a good melody and a good arrangement.”

But it's more than that. Hard work, more than anything: Clayderman gets up at 5.30am most mornings and practises for three or four hours every day. He tours and records more than ever – he has released more than 50 albums. Away from stage and studio, he has been busy moving house 12 times in the past 12 years in his search for the perfect family home, finally settling on the edge of a forest west of Paris, near Versailles.

He admits classical musicians occasionally question his style but says that, whenever they see him play a concert, they are surprised. Not only by his skilled technique, but by the open delight he inspires in his audience. “I think they mock me and envy me at the same time,” he smiles. “But I am not a frustrated classical musician. I had my classical training and now I do what I do, in my own way. I regret nothing – je ne regrette rien.”

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

He never intended to be a performer - let alone become a superstar. But over a 35-year career, Richard Clayderman has sold 85 million albums. Today, his distinctive piano reinterpretations of familiar tunes from every era and genre are still heard in every corner of the world. Whether we know it or not, his music has become the soundtrack of our lives.

So who is Richard Clayderman?

The 58-year-old* Frenchman – born Philippe Pagès – is arguably the world's most successful pianist. With his trademark style of smooth, lavishly orchestrated reinterpretations of popular hits, show tunes and well-known pieces from the classical repertoire, he has come to define a certain brand of Easy Listening. You could call it the original Chill-Out music.

Clayderman has collected 267 gold and 70 platinum discs in almost every country in the world. Not bad for a session musician who became a star by accident.

As a small boy, he could read music better than his native French. At 12 he won a place at the Paris Conservatoire and graduated with first prize. But instead of embarking on a career as a classical pianist, he became a studio musician to support his sick father and young family.

Until one day in 1977 when he received a call from French music producer Olivier Toussaint, who was looking for a pianist to play a brand new tune composed to celebrate his musical partner Paul de Senneville's newly-born daughter Adeline.

“I started out with a list of 20 pianists and auditioned 12 of them,” recalls Toussaint.
“But as soon as I heard Richard play, I knew he was the right one. He had a soft touch and a good technique but, just as importantly for me, he was also modest, charming and a good-looking guy, with none of the arrogance of some others I had met.”

Clayderman echoes his words. “I was seduced by the melody as soon as I heard the song,” he says. “But I had no idea it would become such a huge success. I think the secret is simple: it is a melody that is simple and beautiful, and touches people's hearts.”

The producers persuaded Philippe Pagès to change his name to Richard Clayderman – using his Swedish grandmother's maiden name – to make it easier to pronounce outside France, expecting their collaboration to last perhaps six months.

“I just wanted someone to play this one song and that it would be great if the record sold 10,000 copies,” says Toussaint. “I never imagined I was meeting a guy for a 50-year career. Who would imagine that a French pianist would become one of the best known musicians in the world?”

Extraordinarily, and unlike any pop song before it, the popularity of Ballade Pour Adeline spread slowly around the globe over the next five or six years, conquering one country after another until there was almost no corner of the world immune to its melodic charms.

In the UK, for example, Clayderman became a household name through Decca's innovative direct marketing campaign on TV, selling his music by mail order rather than the traditional route of record shops. In the 1980s he became a fixture on TV screens, often as a guest of Des O'connor, and he still recalls “early-morning trips to a frozen Pebble Mill” - as well as the time Paul McCartney came to his dressing room to congratulate him on his success.

For the past 35 years Clayderman's boyish blond good looks and distinctive piano style have made him instantly recognisable all over the world as a man whose records sell millions and whose concerts sell out as soon as they are announced.

Yet Richard Clayderman never set out to become a star – or even to perform onstage. “I never imagined becoming a performer,” he says. “I was very happy being a session musician.”

So what is the secret to his enduring success? A shy man who does not drink, smoke or drink coffee, he believes it is the “romance” of his style. It's also the golden rule he uses to choose songs in a repertoire that encompasses every genre and style: “a good melody and a good arrangement.”

But it's more than that. Hard work, more than anything: Clayderman gets up at 5.30am most mornings and practises for three or four hours every day. He tours and records more than ever – he has released more than 50 albums. Away from stage and studio, he has been busy moving house 12 times in the past 12 years in his search for the perfect family home, finally settling on the edge of a forest west of Paris, near Versailles.

He admits classical musicians occasionally question his style but says that, whenever they see him play a concert, they are surprised. Not only by his skilled technique, but by the open delight he inspires in his audience. “I think they mock me and envy me at the same time,” he smiles. “But I am not a frustrated classical musician. I had my classical training and now I do what I do, in my own way. I regret nothing – je ne regrette rien.”

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

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