Biography

Jean-Michel Jarre first came to international fame with his number one hit album « oxygene » which went on to sell over 18 million copies worldwide.
Jean-Michel Jarre Portrait 2021
Jean-Michel Jarre Portrait live at WTTOS

Composer, performer, producer. Visionary, innovator, cultural ambassador. Any list of Jean-Michel Jarre’s countless factettes would inevitably come short of his actual significance in music history. “JMJ” is a living legend and often referred to as the “Godfather of Electronic Music”. When Jarre launched his landmark- debut album “OXYGENE” in 1976, he opened a new chapter in music history. The record has sold over 18 million copies and laid the foundations for his exceptional career. Jarre’s pioneering work gave birth to a veritable cult and the fastest-growing trend the music industry has ever stood to witness: the rise of electronic music.

Jean-Michel Jarre’s music always followed his firm conviction that progress could only ever be achieved through daring deviations from the norm. Born to famous film music composer and director Maurice Jarre, JMJ studied harmony and counterpoint, became a student of the great musicologist Pierre Schaeffer and began drawing his own creative conclusions from his mentor’s “musique concrète”. Boldly balancing between the spheric-abstract and the very direct melodic foundations of his music, Jarre managed to evoke the poetry of encounter and connection: between people, between handmade and high-tech, between organic and artificial, between wisdom and vision.

Jarre’s visionary creative output is perpetually linked to his innovative exploration of new technological trends. From the first modular and polyphone synth and drum-machines to digital keyboards, plug-ins and apps, JMJ is always one the forefront to use them. He was the one to popularize the laser harp, he used the Houston skyline at a gigantic outdoor concert in 1986 as a projection surface for the first-ever large-scale laser-mapping performance and set up a live video connection to the MIR astronauts in space during his epic Moscow spectacle in 1997. His millennium concert in Egypt was the first concert ever to be streamed live on the internet. Jarre was also the first to release an entire album in 5.1. Sound and the first artist to use 3D audio technology for music.

Jarre, a three time Guinness World Record holder for largest outdoor performances, was always keen to present his music in one-off events and turning them into unforgettable experiences for those present. Jarre came up with the idea to create a whole new form of live experience: gigantic and flamboyant high- tech performances. Spectacular shows with massive sound engineering and futuristic laser and light projections : free outdoor concerts that incorporated their iconic urban and natural surroundings into unforgettable multi-sensory experiences. Jarre set up these concerts in the most specular open air venues around the globe: a Y2K millennium performance at the pyramids in Cairo, the first Western live act in post- Mao China, a welcome show for the Pope in Lyon, a NASA commemoration concert in downtown Houston, performances in Beijing’s Forbidden City or the Sahara Desert. Jarre quickly became the ultimate benchmark for outdoor events. To this date he owns the Guinness World Record for the monumental 3.5 million spectators to his Moscow concert in 1997.

Jean-Michel Jarre Electronica
Jean-Michel Jarre Electronica

Whilst Jarre is at the forefront of artists using new technology for music, his art was always accompanied by deep reflections on the role of technology for the future of our planet. The famous 1976 Oxygene cover that showcased the polluted mother earth in form of a skull, the Equinoxe cover by artist Michel Granger which was both fascinating and disturbing, added to the most iconic cover artworks of all time: countless rows of mysterious and utterly faceless “watchers” seemed to stare right at whoever looked at the image : an early vision of technology constantly watching us. Just recently the cover art for Equinoxe Infinity caused a stir. It was released in two versions. One visual depicts a utopian future, where mankind coexists peacefully with nature and technology. The other one paints a dystopian picture of fear and distortion, where dark Artificial Intelligence has taken over the world.

Optimistic in nature and yet critic in spirit, Jarre always raised awareness for questions around nature and technology— and became a globally renowned expert on the topics. He was honoured with the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication, collaborated with Edward Snowden, tested Artificial Intelligence for music compositions and is constantly invited to share his thoughts in speeches and forums. The UN appointed Jarre UNESCO spokesperson for Environment and Education, and in 2013 he was elected President of the Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) in Washington. Jarre’s expertise is in demand, his input highly valued.

Awards & Recognition

Year

Achievement

2021

- insignia of Commander to the Legion of Honour

2019

- Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur.

2017

- Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication.

2013

- President of CISAC – succeeding the late Robin Gibb.
- Steiger Award Germany.

2012

- Doctor Honoris Causa -University Alcala de Henares, Spain.

2011

- Officier de la Légion d’Honneur.

2010

- SACEM Grand Prix des Musiques Electroniques.
- MOJO Livetime Achievment Award.

2008

- Doctor Honoris Causa, Mendeleev Russian University of Chemistry and Technology.

2007

- Eska Music Awards Special Award.

2006

- Polish Television Academy's "Super Wiktor" award for his concert in Gdansk, commissioned by Nobel Prize winner, Lech Walesa.
- Gdansk's Person of the Year 2005 Award.

2005

- HCA Ambassador for the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Bicentenary Festival.

1998

- IFPI Platinum Award.

1997

- Again, a new Guinness World Record entry for the biggest concert audience ever with 3.5 million sharing Moscow's 850th anniversary.

1994

- Victoire de la Musique for his album Chronologie.
- Decorated Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur by the French Government.

1993

- UNESCO Spokesperson and Goodwill Ambassador for Tolerance and Youth, contributing to the awareness of two key UN projects “Water for Life” and “Education for All”.
- Jarre becomes the only French and one of few international artists to have sold-out a pan-European stadium tour, from Wembley to Manchester, from Barcelona Olympic to Nep Stadium in Budapest.

1990

- New Guinness World Record for the largest concert audience ever, Paris La Defense: A City in Concert.
- Minor planet 4422 is named “Jarre” in honour of him.

1987

- New Guinness World Record, again for the largest live concert audience ever, Rendez-Vous Houston, USA.
- "European Person of the Year" by People magazine.

1986

- Instrumental album of the year, at the Victoires de la Musique, for Rendez-Vous.
- Musical show of the year, at the Victoires de la Musique, for the Rendez-Vous Houston concert.

1985

- Instrumental album of the year, at the Victoires de la Musique in France, for Zoolook.

1984

- Grand Prix du Disque - L'Académie Charles Cros for Zoolook.

1981

- The first westerner to perform in The People’s Republic of China.
- Honorary member of the Beijing Conservatory of Music.

1979

- Guinness Book of World Records entry for the largest concert audience ever (La Concorde place - Paris).

1978

- Midem award.

1976

- Jarre’s debut album Oxygene hits number in worldwide & becomes the best selling French album of all time
- Grand Prix du Disque from L'Académie Charles Cros, for Oxygene
- "Personality of The Year" by People magazine (U.S.)

1971

- Jarre becomes the first composer to introduce electronic music into thesanctuary of the Paris Opera House.