The amazing French singer & actor Serge Gainsbourg passed away on March 2, 1991 at 62 years old, one month before his birthday. Born and raised in Paris most of his life, but spent the period of the German occupation of Paris with his family in the town of Limoges. The Ginsburg family were considered yellow star Jews, they obtained fake papers and were able to safely get out of Paris into the Zone libre, the free zone. The war years effected him greatly and he had a hard time ever getting past what he would learn during that time.
His musical career and his love life, both of which intertwine at times have been talked about as much as his music. Serge dated the French bombshell Brigett Bardot for one very hot and steamy year, I am just guessing that but come on, Bardot! They recorded a few songs together including Bonnie and Clyde and Bardot was his first partner on the controversial song. Je t'aime...moi non plus. The broke up before it could be released, so he enlisted his new partner Jane Birkin. The song made waves with its naughty lyrics and the sounds of what resembles a female orgasm throughout the song and in 1969 it was blocked in many countries from even being played, France even edited for the airwaves. Even the Pope weighed in calling the song "offensive", but the song was a top 10 hit across the world.
Largely remembered for his song, Le Poinçonneur des Lilas, which was about a Metro ticket taker, to this day people leave their Metro tickets on his grave. Buried in the Montparnasse cemetery in a pretty humble grave lays Serge along with his parents. There is no statue or monument, just a sheet of marble with his name on it in gold. Potted plants. notes and hundreds of metro tickets cover his gravesite.
On a small side street in the 7th arrondissement just a few blocks from the Seine is, 5 bis Rue de Verneuil. the final address and home he lived in from the mid 60's on. His daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, had plans to turn his house into a museum but has left it the same exact way it was the last day he was alive. The wall outside has become an ever changing shrine to him from his fans. From time to time they paint over it to appease the neighbors, only to have his faithful back with stencils and spray paint.
On my first trip to Paris this was a must see stop, of course I love Serge and his music and made sure on this day I was listening to him as I walked my way through the 7eme until I came upon the colorful wall. Covered with love notes to him, stenciled images of him or just some random tagging it is pretty amazing in all it's chaos. I can't wait to see what it looks like in 41 days.
Another fun fact about Serge is that his partner Jane Birkin was THAT Birkin. She used a large opened straw bag as her purse and on a flight from Paris to London she happen to be sitting next to the Hermès head honcho. Her bag spilled out and she expressed how hard it had been for her to find the perfect leather bag. He then created a bag for her, today it is known as a Birkin Bag. A handbag that can take years to obtain from the multi year waitlist. and most cost more than a car, a few cars at that and is quite possibly the most infamous item in fashion there is.