Gilbert Becaud Biography

Gilbert Becaud, a revolutionary figure in French music, dedicated his life to his passion after a brief stint in the French army. With his career taking off in 1948, he quickly became known as ‘Monsieur 100,000 Volts’ for his electrifying performances. Gilbert’s early singles, such as ‘Les Croinx’ and ‘Mes Mains’, showcased his musical prowess, leading to the creation of over a dozen albums including ‘Alors Raconte’ and ‘Le Bateau Blanc’. Not limited to songwriting and composing, Becaud also explored opera comedies and musicals. Although his prominence waned in the 1980s and 90s, his earlier works remained popular and were compiled into various albums. Gilbert’s musical genius even earned him a tribute in the movie ‘Leon’.

Quick Facts

  • French Celebrities Born In October
  • Also Known As: François Gilbert Léopold Silly
  • Died At Age: 74
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Kitty St. John, Monique Nicolas
    • Children: Anne Bécaud, Emily Bécaud, Gaya Bécaud, Jennifer Bécaud, Philippe Bécaud
  • Pianists
  • Composers
  • Died on: December 18, 2001
  • Place of death: Paris, France
  • Cause of Death: Lung Cancer

Childhood & Early Life

Gilbert was born on October 24, 1927 in Toulon, France. His birth name was Francois Gilbert Leopold Silly. He developed a passion for piano at a young age. His father neglected the family, so his mother entered a relationship with a man named Louis Becaud, who played a significant role in raising Gilbert and his siblings. At the age of nine, Gilbert enrolled at the Nice Conservatoire, where he studied for several years. In 1942, he left his studies to join the French Resistance during World War II.


In 1948, Gilbert met musician Maurice Vidalin, which inspired him to start writing songs. He also collaborated with Marie Bizet during this time. Over the next two years, the trio worked together and Gilbert wrote many successful songs. He also met songwriter Pierre Delanoe, who became a frequent collaborator. In 1950, Gilbert met Jacques Pills, a singer and pianist, and they went on many musical tours together. Gilbert also had the opportunity to work with Edith Piaf, a famous Cabaret singer, and their collaboration resulted in the hit song “Je Ta’i dans la peau”. In 1952, Gilbert officially adopted the name Gilbert Becaud and gained worldwide recognition. He also began working with Louis Amade, an officer in the French Civil service, who wrote many songs for Gilbert.

In 1953, Gilbert recorded his first two singles, “Les Croix” and “Mes Mains”. The following year, he performed at the music venue L’Olympia, which had been closed for 25 years. His performance was so captivating that the crowd vandalized the venue in excitement. Gilbert earned the nickname “Monsieur 100,000 Volts” for his electrifying talent. In 1961, he released the popular single “Et Maintenant”, which became a chartbuster. He also wrote the hit song “It Must Be Him” for singer Vikki Carr. Gilbert continued to release successful songs throughout his career, including the 1970s hit “A Little Love and Understanding”. In 1982, he collaborated with Canadian singer Martine St. Clair for the duet “L’amour est Mort”.

Major Works

One of Gilbert’s most significant achievements was his performance at L’Olympia, where he attracted a crowd of 4000 people after the venue had been closed for 25 years. This performance earned him the nickname “Monsieur 100,000 Volts” and brought him immense popularity and acclaim.

Awards and Achievements

Gilbert was honored with the “Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur” in 1974 for his outstanding performance at L’Olympia. He also received a gold medal from the SACEM in 1980 for his contributions to music.

Personal Life & Legacy

Gilbert married Monique Nicolas in 1952 and they had three children together. However, their relationship did not last. He also had a daughter named Jennifer with Janet Woollacoot during the 1960s. In 1976, Gilbert married Kitty St John, with whom he had a daughter named Emily. Gilbert passed away from cancer on December 18, 2001 at the age of 74.

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