Using the pseudonym of Del Roma, Mauriat was to have his first international hit with Chariot, which he wrote in collaboration with friends Franck Pourcel (co-composer), Jacques Plante (French lyrics) and Raymond Lefèvre (orchestrator).
In the United States the song was recorded as I Will Follow Him by Little Peggy March and became #1 on the Billboard charts in all categories for three weeks in 1963. In 1992, the song was featured prominently in the film Sister Act starring Whoopi Goldberg. More recently, Eminem included an extract in his song, Guilty Conscience.
Between 1967 and 1972, he wrote numerous songs with André Pascal for Mireille Mathieu; Mon Crédo (1,335,000 copies sold), Viens dans ma rue, La première étoile, Géant, etc.—to name but a few—and contributed 130 song arrangements for Charles Aznavour.
In 1965, Mauriat established Le Grand Orchestre de Paul Mauriat, and released hundreds of recordings and compilations through the Philips label for the next 28 years.
In 1994, he signed with Japanese record company Pony Canyon, where he re-recorded some of his greatest hits and wrote new compositions. Mauriat recorded many of these albums in both Paris and London, utilising several English classical musicians in these recordings.
In 1968, his cover of the Andre Popp/Pierre Cour tune “L’Amour Est Bleu” (“Love Is Blue”) became a number 1 hit in the US. The song spent five weeks at the top of the charts.
Two other Mauriat singles also made the charts in the US —“Love in Every Room” and the title theme from the movie “Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang”.
“Love Is Blue” was the first instrumental to hit number 1 on the Billboard charts since the Tornados hit with “Telstar” in 1962 and the only American number-one single to be recorded in France. The success of the song and the album on which it appeared, Blooming Hits, established Mauriat as an international recording star.
In 1969, Mauriat started his first world tour with his Grand Orchestra, visiting countries like the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and other Latin American countries.
In 1974, Mauriat released an entire album that paid homage to his musical roots. Classics in the Air features classical music, like Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor”, and Pachelbel’s “Canon”, given the “Mauriat” spin.
For several decades, some of Mauriat’s compositions served as musical tracks for Soviet television programmes and short movies, such as the 1977 animated Polygon (film), “In the world of animals” (V mire zhivotnykh) and “Kinopanorama”, among others.
Mauriat retired from performing in 1998. He gave his final performance in the Sayonara Concert, recorded live in Osaka, Japan, but his orchestra continued to tour around the world before his death in 2006. Mauriat’s former lead pianist, Gilles Gambus, became the orchestra’s conductor in 2000 and led successful tours of Japan, China, and Russia.
Gambus had worked with Mauriat for more than 25 years. In 2005, classical French Horn instrumentalist, Jean-Jacques Justafré conducted the orchestra during a tour of Japan and Korea. The Paul Mauriat Grand Orchestra ceased to exist after the Maestro’s death in 2006.
Paul Mauriat had a special relationship with Japan, where he toured most throughout his lifetime. For this reason, Mme Irène Mauriat, Paul Mauriat’s widow and only heir, authorised an exceptional concert tour led by Mr. Justafré which took place in late 2009, under the title “Merci Paul: Paul Mauriat Memorial Concert”.
This was the only tour authorised by Paul Mauriat’s widow after his death. Mauriat was very popular in Japan and many of the CD’s of his recordings available now are Japanese imports.
After this tour, in order to avoid any confusion, Mme Irène Mauriat issued a public declaration to remind fans that Paul Mauriat left no musical successor. No other orchestra is authorised to use his name.
When Paul Mauriat retired from the stage, he remained fully in charge of his orchestra’s artistic direction—choice of conductors, musicians, programmes, etc. He never delegated this role, and it was his wish that the orchestra’s life would end with his own.
He died on 3 November 2006 in Perpignan, France, age 81.
Career and awards
Relative to his peers, Paul Mauriat has one of the largest recording catalogs, featuring more than 1,000 titles just from his Polygram era (1965–1993).
He was awarded the Grand Prix (Grand Prize) from the French recording industry, a MIDEM trophy, and in 1997 won the prestigious distinction of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture. He sold over 40 million albums worldwide and held 28 tours in Japan from 1969 to 1998.
In the early to mid-1980s, Paul Mauriat appeared in several Japanese coffee and wine television commercials, which featured music from his orchestra.
A line of saxophones and trumpets are named for Paul Mauriat, under the brand P. Mauriat.
His 1967 single recording “Love is Blue”, and the album Blooming Hits, each sold over one million copies. The single was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America in March 1968.
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