“For a year and a half, I no longer drink a drop of alcohol, I am particularly satisfied. On the other hand, I still smoke like a firefighter”balances Renaud in his gravelly voice at the microphone of RTL.
To celebrate his seventieth birthday, the singer releases an album of covers and announces rare concerts. If he admits having “more and more difficult to sing”, he still wants these few dates, to fill his audience, his first-hour fans. Because Renaud is loved. It’s not for nothing that France 2 devoted a special evening to him on Tuesday May 10, an open stage where the artist will share his repertoire with his showbiz friends.
His first bonus since 2016. A winning return still standing. Because the last few years have been more than difficult. After his triumphant 2017 tour, Renaud is exhausted. His body and his voice no longer follow him. He needs to go green. Emergency. In September 2018, he went to rehab, but as soon as he was released, the dramas followed. In January 2019, his older brother, Thierry Séchan, died suddenly. A twist of fate, two weeks later, it was his mother, Solange, who left at the age of 96. Renaud, so faithful to blood ties, literally collapses. He falls and breaks both radii, both ulna, both wrists. He has to wear splints for long weeks.
He then lives in the south of France, in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. A house that serves as his den. His anxieties do not leave him, his addictions either. His heart needs to be operated on. We put a stent on his carotid artery. Solitary, Renaud nevertheless hates loneliness: he has hired two permanent assistants to take care of him. Indispensable safeguards for a Doctor Renaud, Mister Renard prey to the temptation of excess of all kinds. On October 9, 2020, affected by emphysema, the singer was rushed to the Pic Saint Loup clinic, north of Montpellier. In just three years, this is his third serious hospitalization. But he gets up, at the very moment when the Cité de la Musique in Paris inaugurates its Putain d’expo! A tribute that was born thanks to his twin brother David, the most faithful guardian of the temple, ten minutes his senior.
Between drinking and setbacks
Both were born on May 11, 1952; they are the penultimate of a family of six children. Smaller, more puny, Renaud is the beloved son of his mother Solange. Life is sweet in the Séchan home, located on the fifth floor of n° 6 avenue Paul-Appell, in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. Mom takes care of the house and the children by listening to Brel, Brassens or Reggiani. She transmits to them the taste of popular culture, she who comes from the working class. The father, Olivier Séchan, is a German teacher, but also a writer, author of numerous thrillers. Like him, Renaud began to write very early.
His family, which has a very left-wing heart, is involved in many actions and, at 16, Renaud militates against the atomic bomb. In May 68, when the Latin Quarter was under siege, he climbed the barricades with his guitar under his arm, created the Gavroche Committee and sang Crève Salope at the Sorbonne. Renaud, a protesting character, was born. But the artist is still looking for his way of expression… In 1969, he skips his baccalaureate to earn a living from odd jobs. The following year, he met Patrick Dewaere, a 23-year-old rising actor, and his wife, Sotha, who had just created a new theater in Paris: Le Café de la Gare. The tone is free, insolent, funny… The little rebel with the face of an angel dreams of being an actor. He takes lessons but as soon as he sets foot on stage, stage fright overwhelms him. So he settles in the courtyard, where he sings covers with an accordionist, to welcome the spectators. The success is such that he decides to write his own texts, full of impertinence and banter. He stood out and his career was launched. All he needs now is love, the real one.
In 1975, Renaud met Dominique. She is an actress, stage manager, decorator in a very fashionable café-théâtre. Renaud is captivated by the charm of this pretty blonde married to a then unknown actor: Gérard Lanvin. In 1980, she divorced, married the singer and gave birth to Lolita. She will become his chick for almost twenty years. At his side, the Renaud mania is sweeping through all French-speaking countries. But the singer is paralyzed by success. Alcohol becomes a faithful traveling companion. When Dominique left him in the mid-1990s, the artist plunged into depression and excess. For six years, he settled, with his older brother Thierry, above his favorite Parisian brasserie: La Closerie des Lilas. There, all day long, he tries to drown his anxieties in cloudy, anise-coloured glasses. A long crossing of the desert begins.
But in 1999, at the same address, the singer sees the light at the end of the tunnel. Romane Serda, a 29-year-old blond woman, has just entered the establishment. He is subjugated. For two years, the singer, soon to be in his fifties, courted him diligently. And love ends up being built. Together, they create, compose, marry in 2005 and welcome a little Malone, July 14, 2006. But each seems to suffer little by little from the loss of his own freedom… The divorce will be pronounced in 2011. These years 2000 will mark at the same time the umpteenth victorious return of the Phoenix. The Scrapbook Hell of a bang Once again opened the doors of popular success to him in 2002. The younger generation claimed his support and the public, who had never let go of him, was always by his side. Close to the one who defines himself, like a child, “grumpy, shy, innocent and fragile” (JDD, Nov. 2019). At 70 years old, Renaud is indeed still standing, still alive. More than ever a self-proclaimed “irritating singer” and so touching.
Renaud standing … Always
The heirs // La Bande à Renaud
Bénabar, Renan Luce, Mickey 3D, Grand Corps Malade, but also Cœur de Pirate, Raphaël, Louane… all nourished by the legend of Renaud! For nearly fifty years, his style imbued with realism, slang and poetry has inspired entire generations of artists, including Booba who declared him “the best French lyricist”. In 2014, the two opuses of La Bande à Renaud will bring together the finest of pop-rock songs.
A man of heart
Known for his political commitments, the singer has never failed to call for a good cause. In the 1980s, he provided charity galas for Greenpeace or collected 20 million francs for Doctors Without Borders. An asshole from the start, he participated in Restos du Coeur shows in the 1990s and 2000s. Between 2002 and 2008, he subsidized associations fighting for the release of Ingrid Betancourt, hostage of the Farc. Also in the 2000s, moved by the distress of parents who appealed for donations, he financed the operation in the United States of a sick child. An eclectic generosity of which he speaks very little, like this rare confession to the Parisianin April 2016: “I help people who throw bottles at me.”
The women in his life
The first woman to have marked Renaud is Solange, his mother. It was she who chose her first name after a song she loved: The Complaint of King Renaud.He has always been his favorite little one. Later, in 1975, he met Dominique Quilichini. Together, they have a daughter, Lolita, who was born on August 9, 1980 and whose godfather is none other than Coluche. The singer is crazy about his kid. She inspires her most beautiful title: winner Mistral. But the family explodes in the 90s. However, the two exes will remain forever linked. It is besides in Dominique that Renaud comes to take refuge after the death of Solange and not in his second wife, Romane Serda. In Meudon, where they lived before their separation in 2011, the latter tries to keep him away from his demons. But after six years of marriage and a little boy, she will prefer to remain his friend.
1975: LOVER OF PANAME
The general public discovers this Parisian titi with flowery language and committed texts against the Giscard years.
1977: CONCRETE LEASH
With Laisse concrete, Renaud abandons the gavroche style to become a sensitive hoodlum who frightens the bourgeois.
1980: WALK IN THE SHADOW
Marche à l’ombre assures him a great success by becoming the soundtrack of Michel Blanc’s film.
1983: MORGANE OF YOU
This album is a hit in particular thanks to the essential titles Morgane de toi, As soon as the wind blows or again En knocked up.
1985: MISTRAL WINNER
Renaud was a huge success with a public surprised to find him full of tenderness and poetry. In 2015, Mistral winner will be elected by the French the favorite song of all time, in front of Brel and Barbara.
1988: FUCKING TRUCK
This opus is dedicated to his friend Coluche, mowed down on a motorcycle by a heavyweight in 1986. Black titles tinged with an unwavering attachment to the Socialist Party and to François Mitterrand.
2001: VICTORY OF MUSIC
Renaud receives from the hands of Jean-Luc Delarue a prize for his entire career during the 16th Victoires de la Musique ceremony.
2002: BUCAN D’HELL
With 2 million copies sold, this album is a record in the artist’s career. A success linked to the title Manhattan-Kabul, in duet with Axelle Red, and Doctor Renaud, Mister Renard. He obtains 3 Victoires de la musique.
2016: STILL STANDING
After ten years of absence, Renaud is back in stores with this opus which was released thanks to Grand Corps Malade and sold more than 770,000 copies.
2019: KIDS AND CHILDREN FIRST
This album is dedicated to Malone, the son he had with Romane Serda. It is illustrated by Zep, the creator of Titeuf.
This new disc is composed of covers of the greatest French popular singers, of those who rocked his childhood. He had already recorded in 1996. Renaud sings Brassens and, in 2002, a title for the tribute album Autour de Serge Reggiani.
1993: GERMINAL By Claude Berry
According to the work of Émile Zola, he embodies the black mouth Étienne Lantier. A tribute to Oscar Mériaux, his maternal grandfather, a former cart pusher at the bottom of the mine, in Douai.
2003: WANTED By Brad Mirman
Johnny, Gérard Depardieu, Harvey Keitel, Saïd Taghmaoui… A great cast for a month-long shoot in Vancouver. Renaud and Johnny became friends there.
See also: Renaud: his fortune and his annual salary have just been revealed