You might’ve noticed that we’re still reeling a bit from our time spent in Paris last month for Red Bull Music Academy 2015. It’s pretty hard not to be in awe of an event series that lives on such a grandiose scale but still manages to hit home in such an authentic way.
The lecture we attended with French disco legend Cerrone is a perfect example. Taking place at the top of the Eiffel Tower (yes, you read that right), RBMA invited us (along with a handful of others) to take an elevator to the top of the iconic Parisian hotspot to hear the fascinating story of one drummer who brought disco into mainstream music consciousness and sold millions of records worldwide.
After watching the whole lecture we collated 10 of the most interesting facts that we learnt from the ‘in conversation with’ which you can read alongside the full lecture video below.
1. After coming close to expulsion from school because of incessant tapping on tables during class, Cerrone ran away from home aged just 16 to play music in the streets for money.
2. In the summer of 1972, after busking around the port of Saint-Tropez, Cerrone had a chance meeting with legendary music producer Eddie Barclay, who invited him to lunch in his villa and eventually produced his first two albums as frontman of Kongas.
3. Accredited with creating the backbone of what we now know as disco music, Cerrone championed the 4×4 rhythmic style simply because he needed two percussionists to do something constant whilst he played drum solos live.
4. The first 300 copies of Cerrone’s debut Love In C Minor were sold directly from the booth of a euro-disco night club in New York after an intern mistook them for a box of defective Barry White records which were sent on to a New York wholesaler DJ by mistake.
5. Atlantic Records signed Cerrone after hearing a cover of one of his tracks by Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder, which went on to sell millions after being re-released by the label.
6. Legendary track ’Supernature’ was made after Cerrone was given one of the first ever ARP Odyssey synthesisers to experiment on in his studio.
7. Cerrone blackmailed his label after they refused to release ‘Supernature’, due to its experimental nature, threatening to leave the label if they did not support it. He stated “it was spontaneous: like a kid defending himself, like when I first ran away from home because I really wanted to go to the end… and it was a colossal success”.
8. Cerrone sees himself as a megalomaniac: “when the passion is serious, you don’t have anything to lose. I am a megalomanic, but don’t confuse that with a mythomaniac – a megalomaniac delivers, a mythomaniac dreams”.
9. Lene Lovich came to title and write the lyrics for ‘Supernature’ after a chance meeting with Cerrone in Piccadily Circus. Cerrone was laughing at Lovich in the street (who was wearing a stuffed pink bird on her heard with no shoes playing the tambourine) and invited her back to his studio. She later won the Grammy for her lyrics to the track.
10. Cerrone was surrounded and influenced by Andy Warhol, Jean Paul Gaultier and Jean-Paul Goude whilst growing as an artist, who were coming up at the same time as him. He stated quite humbly that: “to make a career, you need a have a measure of good fortune, this was also about being in the right place at the right time”.