Jacques Helian

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Jacques Hélian (* as Jacques Mikaël Der Mikaëlian June 7, 1912 in Paris ; † June 29, 1986 ) was a French orchestra leader, arranger and saxophonist.

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Hélian was the son of an Armenian father and a French mother. His brother Georges was also an arranger and composer, his sister Marcelle married Raymond Legrand . At first he went to a dentist school, but then, under the influence of Legrand, he turned to music and learned the saxophone. He took his name Hélian on his first engagement in Roland Dorsay's orchestra. From 1934 he was in the orchestra of Legrand (which without Legrand called itself Vagabonds musicaux and then Vagabonds du Jazz). In April 1936 he joined the orchestra of Jo Bouillon and in September that of Ray Ventura . From 1940 to 1943 he was a German prisoner of war. In 1944 he founded his own orchestra after the liberation, and the title Fleur de Paris became a great success, a symbol and hymn of liberation and the orchestra's signature tune (text by Maurice Vandair, music by Henri Bourtayre ). In the second half of the forties his orchestra was very successful and recorded many chansons for Columbia (such as C'est si bon 1948, Maître Pierre by the composer Henri Betti ). Hélian was broadcast on the radio and toured. The orchestra's singers at the time were Francine Claudel , Zappy Max , Jo Charrier and Ginette Garcin and especially Jean Marco (who sang C'est ci bon for the first time on the radio in 1948 , and Les Sœurs Étienne with the Legrand Orchestra in the same year ). From 1949 the vocal trio Les Hélianes performed with the orchestra (Claude Évelyne, Nadine Young, Rita Castel). In 1951, Hélian and his orchestra received the second gold record (Disque d'Or) ever (after Tino Rossi ) for Étoile des neiges .

In 1950 he appeared with his orchestra in the film Pigalle-Saint Germain des Prés and other films followed. The still unknown Jacques Brel approached Hélian at a concert in Brussels, who added one of his chansons to the repertoire. In 1956, she played for the first time Rock Roll 'n' (a version of Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley in the swing style as Toutes les heures qui sonnent with singer Lou Darley). During this time, rock replaced the big orchestras and Hélian gave up his orchestra in 1957. Hélian set up a new orchestra, but it didn't play all the time, it was only called together for recordings. In 1979 he also dissolved this orchestra. He published a retrospective book on big bands in France in 1984.

Hélian's orchestra can be seen in several films, such as Pigalle-Saint-Germain-des-Prés (1950), in which a big band leader of swing adapts to the new musical trends in the jazz cellars of Saint-Germain-de-Près and found his own club.


  • Jacques Hélian: Les grands orchestres de music-hall en France . Foreword Frank Ténot , Ed. Filipacchi, 1984.

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