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Jacques Brel
Jacques Brel 1963.jpg
Jacques Brel, 1963
Jacques Romain Georges Brel

(1929-04-08)8 April 1929
Died 9 October 1978(1978-10-09) (aged 49)
Bobigny, France
Cause of death lung related pulmonary embolism
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • actor
  • director
Years active 1953 (1953)–1978 (1978)
Spouse(s) Thérèse "Miche" Michielsen
Children Three: Chantal, France and Isabelle Brel
Musical career
Jacques Brel's signature circa 1961

Jacques Romain Georges Brel 8 April 1929 – 9 October 1978 was a Belgian singer, songwriter, actor and director who composed and performed literate, thoughtful, and theatrical songs that generated a large, devoted following—initially in Belgium and France, later throughout the world. He was widely considered a master of the modern chanson.

Although he recorded most of his songs in French and occasionally in Dutch, he became an influence on English-speaking songwriters and performers, such as David Bowie, Alex Harvey, Marc Almond and Rod McKuen. English translations of his songs were recorded by many top performers in the United States, including Ray Charles, Judy Collins, John Denver, the Kingston Trio, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, Scott Walker, and Andy Williams.

English versions of Jacques Brel songs have been recorded by a wide variety of artists. Rod McKuen was one of the first American artists to discover and translate Brel's songs. Canadian Terry Jacks' version of "Seasons in the Sun" (based on Brel's "Le Moribond") became a global pop hit in 1974, topping the charts internationally. "Seasons in the Sun" has seen its own renditions recorded by artists ranging from the Beach Boys to Nirvana. McKuen and Brel formed a close friendship. McKuen later wrote, "When news of Jacques' death came, I stayed locked in my bedroom for a week."

In French-speaking countries, Brel was also a successful actor, appearing in ten films. He also directed two films, one of which, Le Far West, was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973. Having sold over 25 million records worldwide, Brel is the third best-selling Belgian recording artist of all time. Brel married Thérèse "Miche" Michielsen in 1950 and the couple had three children.



Since 2017 Brel has his own statue in Brussels named L'Envol. It was designed by Tom Frantzen

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