|Richard Clayderman has done what virtually no other French act has
ever done..... established a truly international career as a best
selling recording artist and concert performer.
Born Philippe Pagès on December 28th, 1953, he encountered the piano
early in his life. His father, a piano teacher, laid the foundation for
his son's later success and began teaching him how to play at a very
young age. It is said that, at the age of six, Richard Clayderman could
read music more adeptly than his native French.
When he was twelve years old he was accepted at the Conservatoire of
Music where, at sixteen, he won first prize. He was predicted a
promising career as a classical pianist. However, shortly after this,
and much to everyone's surprise, he cast aside his classical training
and turned to contemporary music.
"I wanted to do something different", Clayderman says, "So, with some
friends, I created a rock group; it was a tough time..... a hard
time..... and the little money we could make was devoted to buying
equipment. In fact, I used to feed myself so badly - mainly on
sandwiches - that I had to have an operation for an ulcer when I was
At that time his father was becoming seriously ill and was unable to
support his son financially. So, in order to earn a living, Clayderman
found work as an accompanist and session musician. "I enjoyed it", he says, "and it paid well at the same time. That is
how I drew away from classical music, although it gave me a strong basis
for what I do now".
His talent did not go unnoticed and he soon became much in demand as an
accompanist to such major French stars as Michel Sardou, Thierry LeLuron
and Johnny Halliday. But, when asked about his ambitions at that time,
he says, "! really did not want to be a star, I was happy to be an
accompanist and to play in groups".
Nevertheless, his life changed dramatically in 1976 when he received
a telephone call from Olivier Toussaint, a well-known French record
producer, who, with his partner, Paul de Senneville, was looking for a
pianist to record a gentle piano ballad. Paul had composed this ballad
as a tribute to his new born daughter “Adeline”. The 23 year old
Philippe Pagès was auditioned along with 20 other hopefuls and, to his
amazement, he got the job.
"We liked him immediately", says Paul de Senneville, "His very special
and soft touch on the keyboards combined with his reserved personality
and good looks very much impressed Olivier Toussaint and I. We made our
decision very quickly".
Philippe Pagès' name was changed to Richard Clayderman (he adopted
his great-grandmother's last name to avoid mispronunciation of his real
name outside France), and the single took off, selling an astonishing 22
million copies in 38 countries. It was called "Ballade pour Adeline".
"When I signed him", says Olivier Toussaint, "I told him that if we
sell 10,000 singles it will be marvellous, because it was disco at that
time and we could not bet on such a ballad being a winner..... We could
not imagine that it would be so big".
It was the start of what has become an outstanding success story, and
since that time, Richard Clayderman's distinctive piano style has earned
him superstar status all over the world. Today he has recorded over 1,
200 melodies and, in the words of a German journalist, "he has arguably
done more to popularise the piano around the world than anyone since
Richard Clayderman has created a "New Romantic" style through a
repertoire which combines his 'trademark' originals with classics and
pop standards. He has clocked up massive worldwide record sales of
approximately 90 million, at the last count, and an incredible 267 Gold
and 70 Platinum discs to his credit.
However, "The Prince of Romance" (as he was dubbed by Nancy Reagan)
is not simply a recording artist. In fact, despite his natural shyness
and reserve, he is completely in his element on stage ; a Richard
Clayderman concert is a real 'Spectacular'.
"I love performing live on stage", he says, "because I have direct
contact with my audience. In concert, with my 10 musicians or a symphony
orchestra, I like to mix different tempos, rhythms and styles to evoke
all kinds of emotion".
Clayderman's international success has resulted in a punishing
itinerary which, in the past, has seen him play as many as 200 concerts
in just 250 days spent outside France. In spite of this, he remains very
much a family man.
Richard Clayderman likes to spend as much time as he can with his
wife Typhaine. Married in May 2010, the wedding was kept a total
secret from everyone – except their dog, Cookie. “Richard and I did not
wish a large, traditional wedding”, explains Typhaine. “We just wanted
the wedding to be the two of us”. “The day could not have more
wonderful. When we left City Hall with our rings on our fingers,
the sun was shining and the birds were singing – it was the happiest day
of our lives!”
The biggest price Richard Clayderman feels he has to pay for his
international stardom is the time he spends away from his family - a
sacrifice he acknowledges they all suffer but accept as part of his duty
to his millions of fans. "My family is extremely important to me",
he often says, "they are what keep me going - my reason for living,
apart from my music, of course".