French-Armenian chanteur (1935-1985).
Marc Aryan was born as Henri Marcarian in Valence, France, as the son of Armenian parents on november 14, 1935. The young man had a tendency toward literature and languages (he would speak 9), poetry and eventually also to chanson. At the age of 20 he decided he'd become a composer and thus started learning single-handedly piano, solfège, harmony and counterpoint in just 3 years.
In 1959 he recorded in Paris his first song "Ballade", with himself as a singer and released at his own expense. He travels to Belgium, because one of his sisters ran a nightclub in "Knokke-le-Zoute" on the Flemish coast, and he could try-out his song on the dancers in her club. It succeeds. Because the Belgian audience reserved him a very warm welcome and a record firm in Brussels offers him a record contract, Marc Aryan decides to settle himself permanently in Belgium.
The popularity of this "champion of the slow chanson, the langourous slow and lyrics about love" went increasing with each new single (Si jétais le fils d'un roi, Giorgina, Bête à manger du foin), and reached a peak in 1964-65 with his biggest hit "Katy". This song became one of the 10 best-selling songs in Belgium for the whole of 1965 and reached n°1 in both Wallonia and Flanders at the same moment. It also had an international career, making the charts from Turkey to Latin-America, and from Lebanon to Canada.
His biggest success-period lasted about 4-5 years from then, with songs such as "Volage, volage" (20 weaks in the best-selling 10 songs), "Tu es le n° 1 au hit-parade de mon coeur" (at the end of 1967, and with "La Lettre" probably the best chansons of his oeuvre) and "Un Petit Slow" (number 1 only 10 days after it was released).
The singer was also very busy on the live-front, where he could bring his concerts up to three times a day. In 1968 he went on a tour of the East, a triumph with gigs in the U.S.S.R. in stadions with crowds of over 60,000, and storming welcoms in Turkey (to what he dedicated his song "Istanbul") and Armenia (here also, he stole the local hearts with a song dedicated to them, "Yerevan").
With the money of this successful series, Marc Aryan invested in a rcording studio, which he baptized "Katy" in Ohain. He always had been a self-made man, who was writing his own music and lyrics, penned down the arrangements himself, directed the orchestra, did the mix himself in the technical room, and then also was his own manager of the label which released his records (Markal). Slowly but surely, he managed to build this studio into one with an international reputation. From 1973 onwards, artists such as Adamo, Frédéric François, Will Tura, Michel Fugain, Danyel Gérard, Patrick Hernandez (it was here that the disco hit "Born to be alive" was recorded, with in the backings the very first vocal effort of Madonna), Francis Goya, Toots Thielemans and Anthony Quinn (he recorded his success "I Love You" here, and got from Aryan a number of songs, such as "My Forgotten Years"). The culmination in the existence of the studio is without a doubt the period in which Marvin Gaye recorded his "Midnight Love" here in 1981 (an album that would go on to win 2 Grammy-awards in the USA).
Marc Aryan, the singer and composer, remained active as such beside the busy times in his studio, but only "La Lettre" of 1973 managed to gather a bit of a following, aided by the local radio's. He did, however, continued to tour in the gala-circuit around the world.
Marc Aryan died on November 30, 1985 from a heart attac, and lies buried in Ohain. All in all, he left us about 200 song songs, the best of which were compiled onto CD in 1994 (A double CD that sold remarkably well in that year, making it to the to 10 album charts).
In 1997 there was even a "hommage à Marc Aryan" in the halles de Schaerbeek, in which his chansons were interpreted by modern day chansonniers such as Marka, Perry Rose, Dominique A, Jean-Luc of Sttellla, Be Plouvier, Zop Hophop and actor Benoit Poelvoorde …
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