18 September 1958
Sig, Mascara, Algeria
12 September 2018 (aged 59)
Rachid Taha (Arabic: رشيد طه, Sig, Algeria, 18 September 1958 – 12 September 2018) was an Algerian musician based in France. His music is influenced by many different styles such as rock, techno, and raï.
Taha was born in 1958 in Sig (Mascara Province), Algeria, although a second source suggests he was born in the Algerian seacoast city of Oran. Oran was the "birthplace of raï" music, and 1958 was a key year in the Algerian struggle for independence against French authority. He began listening to Algerian music in the 1960s, including street-style music called chaabi. And music from the Maghreb region was part of his upbringing. He moved with his parents to France when he was ten years old, settling in an immigrant community around the French city of Lyon in 1968. His father was a factory worker.
While working in a heating appliance factory in the late 1970s, Taha founded Les Refoulés ("The Rejects"), a nightclub where he would spin mashups of Arabic pop classics over Led Zeppelin, Bo Diddley, and Kraftwerk backbeats.
Based in Paris where he began his solo career after his beginnings as the leader of the French rock band Carte de Séjour, he usually sings in Arabic. In 1981, while living in Lyon, Taha met Mohammed and Mokhtar Amini. The three of them, Rachid, Djamel Dif and Eric Vaquer would later form the band "Carte De séjour" (green card) and record their first maxi Album "Carte De Séjour" in 1983. Their first LP Rhoromanie, came out in 1984. Their second and last LP entitled Ramsa (Five) was released in 1986 and included their famous and ironic cover of Douce France, originally sung by Charles Trenet. The band dissolved in 1989.
His breakthrough album as a solo artist was Diwân, featuring remakes of songs for the Algerian and Arab traditions. His album Tékitoi, produced by Steve Hillage and released in 2004, also brought him great acclaim and recognition from other rock musicians. In 2005 he performed with Robert Plant, Patti Smith and Brian Eno.
He covered The Clash song "Rock the Casbah" (in Arabic, as "Rock El Casbah"), which appeared in the 2007 film about Clash frontman Joe Strummer, "The Future Is Unwritten".
Some critics attribute Taha's unique sound to his use of the mandolute, a mixture of the traditional oud with European fretted instruments.
The song "Barra Barra" from his album "Made in Medina" was featured in the 2001 film "Black Hawk Down "as well as in the Games Convention 2008 trailer of the game Far Cry 2. Recently was featured in the 2007 film The Hunting Party. His song "Garab" from "Made in Medina" was used in the movie "The Truth About Charlie" in 2002, and also in "Blood and Chocolate" in 2007.
Rachid Taha died in September 2018.
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