The singer, composer and guitarist Louis Bertignac is the exceptional guest, all this week, of Le Monde d’Elodie. Musician, lyricist, singer, guitarist, producer, the co-founder of the rock group Telephone or Visitors began a solo career in 1986. He took advantage of the pandemic to write, in collaboration with Guy Carlier, his autobiography Jolie petite histoire editions of Cherche-Midi. This book allows him to look back on the highlights of his life. From his musical sessions with Telephone and the Rolling Stones to his tumultuous stories with Corine Marienneau and Carla Bruni. Louis Bertignac recounts his whole life without filters.
>> Louis Bertignac reveals the story of the hit “Cinderella”: “I spent months writing it and looking for the real story”
franceinfo: Telephone is a great group of friends with, in the middle, a girl, Corine Marienneau. She was really part of your life and I have the impression that she was part of your construction as a man.
Louis Bertignac : I met him when I was 17 and he became my fiancée at 18, I think. We lived together, I made the group with her and my two other friends, Richard Kolinka and Jean-Louis Aubert. So, obviously, she attended this construction. She knew me when I was young. We left when I was a man.
Above all, she was your greatest advocate. She was defending you!
She always defended me. Which was not necessarily good for the group.
“With Telephone, I wanted to make a group with four friends, including a girl. But it turned out that, by force of circumstance, it was two friends and a couple.”Louis Bertignac
It’s funny because you all took the time to talk about it. When Les Insus arrived, it was difficult to talk about why there was no Corine. You do it in the book nice little storywas it also a need to put things back in place?
Yes. We did Les Insus without her, because it wouldn’t have been possible. Because I’m sure we would have done a rehearsal and we would have kicked ourselves.
Without her, you wouldn’t have been the Telephone group you were…
I believe he was the one who told me that. Richard said to me:But it was you who ruined the group“, I answered him: “but no, that’s how it is“. She was ‘the’ best bassist I knew at the time. And Jean-Louis said to me: “Listen, it wouldn’t have been the same without her“. It is certain that she brought something very important to this group. That she is a girl and that it is not like a usual rock group, where as soon as the concert is over we find ourselves in the dressing rooms with eight groupies getting naked, it was pretty good because we were very focused on the music, on the rehearsals, on the work.
Five albums, 450 concerts…
Yeah, we did a good job, we weren’t distracted by the girls.
On April 21, 1986, you therefore announced that you were separating. How did you experience this separation? You say it was a relief.
I felt for a year or two that it was worse than before. And it was hard to think that the greatest story of our lives was waning even slightly. It hurt. For two years, I think, I thought and said to myself: it’s going to have to stop. And my friends said to me:But you are absolutely crazy! You can’t break such a thing“Finally, one day, I broke down and said to myself: there is no time for the brave, here we go.
With the members of Telephone, we parted nicely, without bumping into each other, without yelling at each other, wishing each other good luck.Louis Bertignac
The first two or three years were quite difficult because we were going from something that filled the big rooms to something much more intimate where we didn’t even fill rooms with 200 people, especially me.
Did you doubt at that time?
A little bit, yeah. I was lucky when I released my first Visitors album. There was These ideas without promo, without clip. I went on vacation and when I came back I noticed that she was going everywhere and that gave me confidence. And there, I said to myself: well, finally I will perhaps not do anything else!
You found with Corine, the Visitors. But you say in your book that you filled the rooms less well and that even on stage, it was less good.
There was less atmosphere. And then people had trouble picking up the phone. I went on stage and after a song or two, everyone was yelling: Cinderella. It was a bit of the past.
These ideas (1987) is also one of the essential songs in the repertoire of French music. What does it represent?
This one fell well, at the right time. I think it’s a good song, but it reminds me of something weird that happened. It was Jacques Doyon who asked me to do the actor on his film. I had to bully my wife. I brutalize her a little and he says to me: “But no, it’s too soft“. So I brutalize her harder, but I didn’t dare. He showed me and almost broke his elbow. I said to myself: oh yes, that’s it actor, you have to really go all out . And I come home and I don’t know what my fiancée at the moment says to me, but I answer her in a really ugly way. I had finally gotten into character, but now was not the time. She s ‘goes and I’m like fuck it. And then all of a sudden I start writing this song.,’Baby should go home, you see. I feel bad about being with you, etc.“Fortunately, she came back two hours later, she had just said to herself:”Here, I will let him decompress and he will be angry“. But thanks to her, I had written this song.
Louis Bertignac will be in concert on July 8 in Divonne les Bains, on July 29 at the Festival du son in Civray and on September 10 at the Lysfestival in Comines.