Loud Nights in Clichy - Fred Chichin 1954-2007

While I was compiling a post about French-Pop from the 80s onward I learned that Fred Chichin of Les Rita Mitsouko died last November. Even in times of information overload you can miss these things. Fred was born in 1954 in Clichy and started working with Catherine Ringer in 1979. By the mid-80s they became the bonafide French avant-pop-band, which could do no wrong.

I was never a huge fan of the band (I only own the album "Marc & Robert"), but I always adored their videos and their full on OTT-style.
Looking back it is easy to see how truly fantastic and forward looking Les Rita were, especially if you compare them to the other stuff that was out at the time.
Fred Chichin was a great musician and arrangeur! He was also a great dancer. He holds his own next to Catherine Ringer, who really is one of the best dancers on pop!

When Les Rita Mitsouko stormed the charts with "Marcia Baila" and "C´est comme ca" in the mid-80s they appeared to be a surreal French version of The Eurythmics, the B-52s, the Associates and the Sparks. Their videos were frantic and chaotic and their music was overdoing their "french-ness" to an hysterical extreme.

I don´t know how popular they were in North America (if at all) but they have clearly inspired Deee-Lite, Madonna and other nineties artists with their interest in outrageous fashion and stylized music.

They also did a record with the Sparks, who they quite obviously adored.

Despite disappearing slightly from the international stage, they went on recording and touring until a few days before Fred fell victim of cancer.

Check out some of their truly great and imaginative clips:

"Marcia Baila" started their career. It was originally released in 1984. It became an international hit in 1986. Now watch this and then look up some pics of Madonna from that time.

"C´est comme ca" Their second hit. A great dancefloor burner which would be played from exclusive big-floor clubs to underground discos.

"Andy". Check out her Minnie Mouse shoes!

"Le Petit Train". One of my favourites. Funky, hysterical and the video is a scream!

"Singing in the Shower" with the Sparks. A perfect match!

"Y´a d´la haine" I think this is definately their best video and one of the best of all time. Seen once, never forgotten! This won the MTV best Video award in 1994 and is probably one of the two Rita-Videos which are filed at the MoMA.

"Meme Si". The last one. A beautiful ballad taken from "Variety", their 2007 album. Fred, who was always pencil thin looks even more fragile than usual and Catherine´s eyes are heartbreaking in this.

Frederic Chichin died while the band was touring Europe. Catherine Ringer, who was also his partner off stage and mother of his three children, continued performing soon after his death. It was his wish.

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