Saturday 3 May 1997


The following article is an overview of the career of French multi-instrumentalist, arranger, and conductor Régis Dupré. The main source of information are two interviews with Mr Dupré, both conducted by Bas Tukker (Paris, May 2011 & January 2023). The article below is subdivided into two main parts; a general career overview (part 3) and a part dedicated to Régis Dupré's Eurovision involvement (part 4).

All material below: © Bas Tukker / 2011 & 2023

  1. Passport
  2. Short Eurovision record
  3. Biography
  4. Eurovision Song Contest
  5. Other artists about Régis Dupré
  6. Eurovision involvement year by year
  7. Sources & links

Born: January 15th, 1950, Paris (France)
Nationality: French


Régis Dupré was the conductor of three Eurovision entries, the first one being ‘Croire’, with which Lara Fabian represented Luxembourg in the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin, finishing fourth. Later, Dupré returned to lead the orchestra for two French entries, ‘White and Black Blues’, which tied for second place in 1990, and ‘Sentiments songes’ in 1997. These songs were performed by Joëlle Ursull and Fanny Biascamano respectively.


Born and raised in the heart of Paris, Régis Dupré was the son of an antique dealer. However, both of his grandfathers were avid amateur musicians. 

“One was a drummer-accompanist of accordion players,” Régis explains, “while the other played the violin and the trombone in various classical orchestras. This was in the period between the two world wars. As you can imagine, due also to my father’s profession, I grew up in an artistic environment. I must have been five years old when I first tried my hand at music; I was fascinated by the sound of percussion and tried to replicate those sounds I had heard on the radio by using a footstool as a makeshift drumkit. The music I listened to was hardly ever French variété – and in our house, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, or any other pop music were hardly ever heard… not even French yé-yé. My brother, who was six years older than me, adored jazz in all its colours, ranging from Lionel Hampton to bebop. Of course, I was influenced by his tastes. As a child, I liked the American crooners like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, but my favourites were The Platters! All in all, I think it is fair to say that I wasn’t really influenced by any musical genre which developed in the 1960s.”

“When I was still in primary school, I had some piano lessons, but certainly not for longer than a year. I lacked the motivation to study. Some years later, as an early adolescent, gathered about the campfire with some friends who played the guitar, I had my first go at this instrument myself. Also, accompanying my father at antique fairs in and around Paris, I regularly found myself at old pianos which were up for sale, trying to get some little melody out of it. Seeing how much I loved playing music, my dear father then bought me an old upright piano at an auction. Some years later, I also taught myself to play the transverse flute. That’s my way of learning things – by myself. I’m an autodidact if ever there was one! As a teenager, I played in all kinds of amateur bands. The first was with Marc Bozonnet, who later accompanied Johnny Hallyday and Hugues Aufray on stage as a guitarist. As a duo, simply called Marc & Régis, we started performing here and there. One time, when we were on holiday in the spa town of Vic-sur-Cère, we even got to play in the local casino as the support act for Joe Dassin!”

“Meanwhile, at school, things weren’t going so well. I dropped out when I was 16. My parents wanted me to learn a profession – and because drawing had always been a passion, I chose to study graphic arts. Meanwhile, I continued performing with Marc Bozonnet, but also with a new friend who I met at art school, Marc Fosset. Fosset went on to become a professional musician as well, playing with Stéphane Grappelli for over 20 years! Teaming up with Marc, I played gypsy-style jazz in bistros and bars across Paris. Slowly but steadily, my guitar playing improved; and the money was quite good. I was invited to play in bars and in various groups here and there. Accepting that music was my passion and my life, I quit art school in 1968. In the following years, I played at gala nights accompanying Nancy Holloway, Michel Mallory, and many others; there also was a holiday park on the French Riviera where I spent some summers playing for the guests. It was all part of my learning curve.”

Régis (far left) playing the guitar in Jacques Hélian's orchestra (1972)

“Now, generally speaking, I don’t like finding myself in chaotic situations. I’ve always been an orderly person. In most of the gigs I was doing, the musicians in the band played by ear. Usually, there was just a pianist, a bass player, a percussionist, and myself at the guitar; and, even with so few musicians on the podium, most of the times the performance was a mess! There were no written-out scores and there was no harmony whatsoever in the way the band played. At a point, I got fed up with that. I took up a pencil and a piece of paper to write out the parts for the different instruments, which resulted in a much better performance, making all of us very happy. So you could say those were my first arrangements, just for rhythm section.”

“Going into the 1970s, I continued to do odd jobs as a musician here and there; restaurants, nightclubs, hotels… everywhere. Because I had to play in so many different styles, you could say this was the period of my formal education. I learnt my profession on the road. In 1973, I played in a trio on the ocean liner ‘France’ which crossed the Atlantic from Le Havre to New York. Believe it or not, one of the other artists booked by the ferry line was Dizzy Gillespie. He was a hugely likeable guy, but I didn’t get to perform with him – and honestly speaking I’m not so sure if I would have managed!”

“At the same time, I slowly started getting booked as a guitarist for recording sessions in Paris’ record studios as well. It gave me the opportunity to work under some of the best studio arrangers. In those days, they usually recorded their arrangements in one session, with rhythm section and string and brass players all gathered in the same studio. Something else which proved very important, were the conversations I had with some of my colleagues in the studio, asking them to explain certain musical choices they had made. My eyes and ears were wide open; I was a sponge, absorbing absolutely everything that was going on around me. This was a world I wanted to know more about. I bought myself some arranging textbooks and studied as much as I could if I ever wanted to get the opportunity to write arrangements for full orchestra myself. I saw some great French arrangers at work, but I would say my main inspiration always was the American style of arranging – the big bands accompanying Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., but also film soundtracks and the orchestrations of the famous musicals from the 1950s and 1960s.”

“In 1975, I met a guy called Toni Carlson. Toni was a black artist playing African entertainment music in disco style. He was part of the entourage of Nancy Holloway. On stage, he called himself Maâni. One day, we sat down to have a chat, just the two of us – and I played him some little melodies I had written. He simply said, “Well, I quite like that… and you know, I have just signed a record deal for a single release with Polydor. I would like you to take care of the arrangements for me.” What an opportunity! It was the first time I had the chance to work as a studio arranger – and this was also because Polydor’s artistic director didn’t object to me taking the commission. He didn’t know me at all, so that was very generous of him. He was called Michel Elmosnino – and Michel and I became great friends. The song (entitled ‘So so so di bi una’ – BT) wasn’t a commercial success, but I had a foot in the door!”

Dupré with Dizzy Gillespie - New York, 1973

“In the following years, I did the arrangements for lots of disco recordings. Many of them were done with just rhythm instruments, but the first one which also included strings and brass was the single ‘King Kong’ with the Century Orchestra. The flipside was a melody I wrote myself, ‘Gorilla, King of the Jungle’. That’s actually one of the very few compositions of my own which have been recorded. I built a reputation as an arranger – so I was booked as an arranger and this left me little time to write music myself.”

“There was more to what I did than just disco in those years. Sharing the workload with Guy Matteoni, I co-wrote the arrangements to Marie Myriam’s second album. Marie was married to Michel Elmosnino, who invited me to work on the project. An interesting group I also got to work with was La Bande à Basile. With them, each song had its own flavour – ranging from Broadway-style big bands, South-American folk, to plain French chanson. This meant that I got to write orchestrations in all those styles, which was very interesting and educational at the same time.”

In 1979, French pianist Richard Clayderman, who had won international fame with the gentle melody of ‘Ballade pour Adeline’ three years before, went on a world tour for the first time. Régis Dupré was commissioned to be the arranger and conductor for his live concerts.

“I had known Richard Clayderman for some years,” Dupré explains. “His real name was Philippe Pagès and he was a session pianist. He played the synthesiser on many of my earliest arrangements, including the track with Maâni which started my career as an arranger. Philippe and I were buddies! In 1978, we were both in the orchestra accompanying Thierry Le Luron (comedian and chansonnier – BT) on his tour across France. Now, ‘Ballade pour Adeline’ was a composition by Paul de Senneville and Olivier Toussaint, who were also his producers. When the ‘concept’ Richard Clayderman caught on with audiences in many parts of the world, they suggested to him to go on tour and perform his melodies on stage – and he wanted me as his musical director."

Régis played the bass guitar in the Parisian cabaret Paradis Latin for some time; here, he can be seen having a chat with composer Frédéric Botton (1936-2008) in between two performances (1977)

“On the first tour, we performed in South Africa and various Latin American countries. Clayderman and I travelled alone; and at each venue, there was an orchestra which was booked to do the local concert with him. However, when we embarked on the second tour, which took us to Japan, we took a rhythm section of French musicians with us. Clayderman picked a group of our friends from the Thierry Le Luron orchestra. My job was to write the arrangements for the local orchestras and rehearse and finally conduct the concert."

"We didn’t only play the charts which Hervé Roy and Gérard Salesses arranged for Clayderman’s studio albums. It would have been boring to have a two-hour concert with all arrangements being in the same style. More variation was required, with arrangements in different musical genres, jazz, funk, even classical reprises. Don’t forget that I had to adapt the orchestrations to the orchestra available in a particular concert. Sometimes, we worked with just strings, but, on other occasions, there was a full symphony orchestra available. I also copied the parts for the different instruments for each concert, a huge job!”

"Usually I arrived at a concert venue a couple of days before the show to rehearse with the local orchestra, but also to build up a good working relationship with the musicians in it. Especially classical musicians tended to have reservations about playing light entertainment music, because they felt it was below their standards. I tried to show them that, in order to play this type of music well, perhaps even more energy was required than for a classical repertoire. Usually, musicians with a jazz feel find it easier to play classical music than the other way around; somehow, classical musicians often lack the groove and the rhythmic feel to play entertainment music. I cannot say it was an easy job and some of the orchestras I had to work with were awful, but it was fascinating to always try to win the confidence and respect of a group of musicians you had never previously worked with. What was more, I had always dreamt of performing on stage for large audiences. With Richard Clayderman, this dream of being an homme de spectacle came true!”

“Not only musically, but also psychologically, it was very interesting to work with orchestras from across the world. As a conductor, you have to adapt to different mindsets, different languages, and different cultures. It’s an illusion to think that it is possible to approach musicians from China in the same way as Mexicans; the respective ways of thinking could hardly be further apart. A conductor has to take things like that into account; there’s more to it than knowing your scores well.”

Conducting a studio session in Studio Grande Armée, Paris (1978)

“In the concert, I usually played keyboards behind Richard while conducting the orchestra simultaneously. Without being immodest I can say that I had the confidence to stand up in front of an orchestra virtually from the beginning. I was thrown in the big pond and I loved being in the water! Classical musicians tend to test the conductor in rehearsals. After all, who was this little French upstart to think that he could conduct them? There’s one thing which helped me a lot. As an adolescent, I took several miming courses. I couldn’t think of a better way to develop your physical abilities as well as your confidence and equilibrium than by playing mime. It has helped me all my life. As a conductor, I was an autodidact, although of course I had some background which I had picked up in the recording studio; but it takes some guts to stand up in front of 60 musicians and say, “Merci, but could you play this part a little differently please?” It could be challenging at times, but it was a job I loved doing. I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to do this work.”

“In the end I toured with Richard Clayderman for 14 consecutive years. Usually I was away from home 250 days each year, in which I saw airports, hotels, concert venues… and little else. I once made a list of countries where I performed with Clayderman; as it turned out, the number I reached was 38! There was Latin America and the Far East, but also Australia, New Zealand, the USA, South Africa, and many European countries. Name me a famous concert venue, and I performed in it! The Carnegie Hall in New York, Sydney Opera House, the Royal Albert Hall in London… and many, many more. One of the most impressive locations for a concert was the Roman theatre in Caesarea in Israel. It was magic performing in the open air with the Mediterranean Sea at your feet.” 

“In 1993, my involvement with Clayderman stopped. Let’s not go into detail about this, but I don’t think it’s all that surprising that, after all those years of working closely together, both he and I were keen to move on and discover new horizons. This meant I had to reinvent myself. In those 14 years, I had hardly done any studio work, simply because there was no time. The few weeks per year in which I was home in Paris were usually spent writing arrangements for the next concert tour. There was a new generation of studio musicians who had never worked with me and who didn’t even know my name.”

“Fortunately, virtually at the exact moment the work with Clayderman stopped, my old friend Georges Augier de Moussac phoned me. I had worked with Georges on two Eurovision projects (about which much more in the Eurovision part of this biography, below – BT) and he wondered if I was interested in working as the musical director of a TV entertainment show for France 2, C’est votre vie. Georges was commissioned to write the theme tune – and was then asked if he wanted to lead the combo as well, but he had to refuse because he wasn't available. It was very generous of him to pass the job onto me.”

Rehearsing with an orchestra in Japan on one of his many tours with Richard Clayderman (1981)

“In each edition of C’est votre vie, hosted by Frédéric Mitterrand (nephew of President François Mitterrand – BT), there was a main guest who was a grande vedette of French showbiz. In the show, there were surprise performances by artists he or she loved, and relatives and friends telling moving or funny anecdotes. It was the French version of This Is Your Life; and it was a wonderful programme to work on. I had a combo of seven musicians and three backing singers at my disposal. For each edition, I had to write all arrangements myself; and then rehearse them with the band. Unfortunately, due to a change in France 2’s management, ‘C’est votre vie’ ran for one season only, but this television commission led to much other work in that field.”

After one year of C’est votre vie (1993-94), Dupré composed jingles and the signature melodies to Spécial Sabatier and Pour la vie for private TV company TF1. Moreover, for Pour la vie, an entertainment show which ran for two seasons (1995-97), he also was the musical director. 

“But by then, the times were changing! It was gratifying to work on, but more so from a financial point of view than artistically. Whereas, for C’est votre vie, all music was performed live on stage, I now had to pre-record playback tapes in the studio which were used to back up artists performing in the show. The element of working live on stage with an audience listening to you and your fellow musicians was missing, and I thought it was sad. It was a time when live music was ever further marginalised on radio and television. Producers were keen to cut their budgets – and musicians and sound engineers were their first victims. The tide has never turned back; nowadays, you hardly ever see an orchestra in a TV show – at least, that’s the situation as it is in France nowadays.”

As his TV commissions fell away in the second half of the 1990s, Régis Dupré did more and more copyist work for fellow-arrangers in the light entertainment and film music business – first among them his good friend Hervé Roy.

Conducting the sessions in Sofia (October 2005) for the soundtrack of Bernard Stora's film Le Grand Charles, with a script centring around the life of Charles de Gaulle directed by Bernard Stora

“I knew Hervé long before the period we are discussing now. Towards the end of the 1970s, when Richard Clayderman was enjoying his first success, Hervé was one of the arrangers working on the scores of Clayderman’s studio albums. It was Hervé who wrote the original arrangement to ‘Ballade pour Adeline’! When I was chosen to be the musical director of Clayderman’s concert tour, I picked Hervé’s brain about orchestrating. I was a huge admirer of his scores. They were works of art, written in a way which was perfectly clear and very precise – contrary to many other arrangers, who tend to write too fast and make mistakes. Hervé didn’t teach me to be a conductor, but I don’t think I would have managed to write arrangements on the level that I did later on if I hadn’t been in touch with him. As a sort of mentor, he helped me on my way. Gradually, thanks to those long conversations, a friendship developed. It’s true that Hervé could be rigid and difficult at times; he simply couldn’t stand mediocrity. However, once you got to know him, he was great. To me, he always was as generous as could be.”

“From the second half of the 1980s onwards, I occasionally was a copyist for Hervé. All those years with Clayderman had taught me to write extremely fast. In the 1990s, the copying work I did for Hervé intensified, certainly after 1994 when he became the musical director for all of Charles Aznavour’s stage shows. Hervé usually wrote all arrangements himself, but in the latter stages of his eight years with Aznavour, he couldn’t always make the deadlines by himself – and then he would ask me to jump in. I was happy to take the work, first because I considered it an honour to write for Aznavour, who I’ve always greatly admired – and then, of course, there was my friendship with Hervé, which lasted for as long as he lived. The day he died in 2009 was one of the saddest in my life. I still think of him nearly every day.”

“Another arranger who I got to admire through my work as a copyist was a film composer called Bruno Fontaine. As a composer and arranger, he was more classically inclined than Hervé. Fontaine also was an excellent conductor, which couldn’t be said for some other film composers. When their music is recorded, many of them prefer to be in the control room to check on every detail of the sound while someone else does the conducting job for them. As such, I conducted many film scores, especially for Bruno Coulais. I got to know him when he was very young, in the 1970s, when I conducted some of the jingles he wrote for advertisements. Later, he turned to film composing – and when my work with Clayderman ended, Bruno got in touch with me again. Artistically, working with him was very rewarding, because he is an excellent composer. The guy won three Césars (French Grammies – BT) – and I would say he deserved them!”

“In fact, I also wrote the orchestrations to several films myself. Some film composers are used to working with computers only and aren’t able to write arrangements themselves – and of course I could do this for them, although it didn’t always prove easy to recreate computerised sounds with a full orchestra. Of course, being a film arranger is far more lucrative than just conducting a score, but I’ve always liked conducting, and especially those soundtracks which are usually recorded with large symphonic set-ups. I can assure you I enjoyed every minute of those sessions! However, over time, more and more film music was recorded in Eastern Europe rather than in France. Initially, a French crew was taken along; and I recorded quite a few soundtracks with a Bulgarian orchestra in Sofia, but after a while they decided a local conductor could do the job just as well as I could. My last film commission was in 2008; the work simply dried up.”

Performing with his jazz quintet Smooth & Groovy (c. 2010)

Apart from his film work, Régis Dupré also conducted some pop productions, most notably Emma Shapplin’s million selling crossover album ‘Carmine meo’, which included the hit ‘Spente le stelle’. In the 1990s and early 2000s, he also worked on studio productions with Francis Cabrel, Yves Duteil, Maurane, and Charlotte Rampling.

“But those commissions also became rarer and rarer as time went on. Pop productions recorded with an orchestra are an exception these days. In the 2010s, I continued working as a copyist, but at some point I quit. Around the time when my film work stopped, I formed a jazz group with a couple of friends, Smooth & Groovy. After all those years of working as an arranger and conductor, I was keen to retrace my steps as an instrumentalist – not as a pianist or guitarist, but as a flute player. With Tony Bonfils, a studio musician of my generation who was much in demand as a bass player, I reworked some pieces for our group. My daughter Candice was the lead singer.”

“Playing with my friends, I retraced the early days of my career, when I played as a musician in restaurants in Paris. As Smooth & Groovy, we performed for tourists during their boat trips on the Seine. In the summertime, we went down to a holiday resort owned by a friend in Southern France, where we enjoyed the weather while also performing for the other guests. This went on for three or four years, until the resort was closed down – and we decided to call it a day and disband our little group. Around that same time, I also performed Lady Velvet and Please Call Me Madame, two jazz groups founded by my daughter. Unfortunately, music has become a complicated occupation – the younger generations are finding it hard to make a living in music, whereas, back in my day, the studio business kept hoards of musicians busy.”

“Looking back on my career, I’m quite satisfied with what I’ve achieved, especially in the years I spent on the road with Richard Clayderman. I’ve always preferred working live on stage over the recording studio. Don’t get me wrong, the studio work I did was good, but it lacked the magic vibrations which happen on stage. I think of myself as an homme de spectacle – and those 14 years with Clayderman gave me the opportunity to travel the world and build an international career. There aren’t that many French artists who built a global career; Clayderman did it, and I got to accompany him in all those different countries. From my childhood onwards, conducting was a dream – and I got to conduct dozens of orchestras around the world. Yes, I guess you could say I lived my dream.”

Open-air performance (2014)


As an orchestrator and conductor, Régis Dupré took part in three editions of the Eurovision Song Contest. His first involvement was in 1988, when Luxembourg was represented by 18-year-old Belgian songstress Lara Fabian and ‘Croire’. The ballad was a composition by Jacques Cardona with lyrics by Alain Garcia. Yet, it was not through one of the two songwriters that Dupré was commissioned to conduct the Eurovision orchestra. 

“I was given a phone call by Georges Augier de Moussac, who told me he had written an arrangement for a young singer called Lara Fabian – and that this girl had been picked to represent Luxembourg in the Eurovision Song Contest. I knew Georges Augier, but not very well. In the 1970s, he was Hugues Aufray’s bass player. Back then, we met several times through a mutual friend in the music business, Marc Bozonnet. We had a chat now and then, but that was it – and once I had been signed to tour the world with Richard Clayderman in 1979, I lost touch with him. When he called me, it really was out of the blue.”

“Now, you have to realise that Georges was a fine musician, but he didn’t have a theoretical background. For Lara Fabian, he made a studio arrangement working exclusively with computers and rhythm instruments. For the contest, he needed somebody to orchestrate and conduct the song – and that’s where I came in. The contest fell in between two Clayderman world tours, allowing me to accept the commission. I never asked why Georges called me when we hardly remembered each other, but the answer needn’t be that complicated. The producer of the song was Michel Elmosnino. In the 1970s, Michel gave me my first opportunity as a studio arranger, and we had become close friends. He was an important man in my professional life. I suspect Michel and his wife, Marie Myriam, suggested my name to Georges when news came through that Lara Fabian and ‘Croire’ were going to Eurovision.”

“Conducting the Eurovision orchestra was a childhood dream coming true. As a child, I remember watching the very first contest in 1956. We already had a TV set in the house back in those days! For France, Franck Pourcel was the conductor – and, even at that age, I was fascinated more by him than by the singers. There was an orchestra, musicians playing to the beat indicated by Pourcel. At that time, Pourcel was a vedette, a star… and then to represent your country in the Eurovision Song Contest; to me as a child this was the highest level any musician could ever attain. I was hooked!”

Lara Fabian surrounded by her Eurovision team at Studio Davout, Paris - from left to right: Alain Garcia (lyricist), Régis Dupré (orchestrator, conductor), Michel Elmosnino (producer), Georges Augier de Moussac (co-arranger), and Jacques Cardona (composer)

“Admittedly, now that I was invited to represent Luxembourg in the contest, business was more prosaic than I could have imagined as a child. There was not much time left; the orchestration had to be sent to Dublin and there were adaptations which had to be made. Georges wanted to use a rhythm track and then add string and brass to enrich the sound. From my viewpoint, we could have perfectly done the entire thing live, but that was not my call to make. We discussed the best way to approach the orchestration. Georges was very much open to taking my viewpoints into account. Following our conversation, I wrote the orchestration for the contest.”

“The week in Dublin was great. Marie Myriam and Michel Elmosnino joined us to support Lara Fabian at the contest. Georges Augier was there as well. I only met the songwriters when we boarded the plane. They were great guys, especially the composer, Jacques Cardona. He was very funny, cracking one joke after the other. We were in stitches all week. We couldn’t have had a better time together – really a band of friends. Lara Fabian was a bit shy and mainly stuck to herself. She had her parents with her to look after her. Although she was very young, it was obvious even then that she was a promising young talent. I wasn’t surprised when she had such a successful career later on.”

“Having worked with orchestras in many countries all over the world on the Clayderman tour in the previous years, I wasn’t too worried about the rehearsals in Ireland. What could go wrong, especially given that we had a rhythm track? I thought it would be little more than a routine job, but it turned out that I was wrong. At the first rehearsal, some of the musicians couldn’t keep up with the tempo of the backing track – and some others simply played out of tune. The sound was awful! At some point, I tapped my baton and told the orchestra in plain words that I was unhappy about the effort put into the rehearsal by them. My English is quite good, so I had no problem explaining to them exactly what I wanted. I was thinking, “Move your ass and try to play in tune this time,” but of course I chose my words more carefully. As a conductor, it’s no use making enemies in the orchestra. From that moment on, there was no problem. I would say the performance we got from the orchestra on the night was good enough – not perfect, but passable.”

“When we finished fourth in the voting, everyone was quite happy. Given the problems we had been having with the orchestra, Lara stayed remarkably calm and sang the song quite well – even more so when taking into account how young she was. All hopes of winning which we may have harboured on our way to Ireland evaporated into thin air when someone told us upon our arrival for the first rehearsal that Switzerland was represented by Céline Dion. At that moment, we knew we were done for! Céline hadn’t had her big breakthrough yet, but in France we already knew what she was capable of. She was une bête à concours – always a winner. In our delegation, we joked that we had better go home, because how on earth could we beat her? At that point, we hadn’t even heard her song, but there was no surprise whatsoever when she walked away with the trophy.”

Backstage in Dublin - Lara Fabian with Norway's conductor Arild Stav 

Two years later, Régis Dupré was back as a conductor in the contest – this time representing France, leading the orchestra for ‘White And Black Blues’, a song composed by Georges Augier de Moussac with lyrics by none other than Serge Gainsbourg. This entry was performed by Joëlle Ursull, the first black singer to represent France in the contest. At the festival, held in Zagreb (Yugoslavia), this French entry tied for second place with Ireland behind the victorious Italian Toto Cutugno. 

“As I learnt afterwards from Georges Augier, the songwriting process had been quite complicated. He had been invited by French television to write a melody for Joëlle Ursull. She was the production’s team choice for the contest – and given that neither she nor Georges were big names in showbiz, the production team were keen to have a well-known lyricist. Eurovision wasn’t very popular in France, and having a big name on board would lend the project some extra credibility. That’s why Georges approached Etienne Roda-Gil to add the lyrics to his melody. Roda wrote the words to all of Julien Clerc’s big hits in the 1970s. All of a sudden, though, Roda-Gil’s wife passed away – and he then gave back the commission. That’s when French TV decided to turn to Gainsbourg, who was even more famous than Roda. Gainsbourg had to be urged to be really quick to meet the submission deadline for the contest.”

Allegedly, Gainsbourg initially came up with a provocative poem entitled ‘Black Lolita Blues’, but Joëlle Ursull refused it, upon which he adapted the words – and the final version bore the title ‘White And Black Blues’.

“But I had nothing to do with any of that,” Dupré adds. “Exactly as in 1988, Georges wanted me to write the orchestration. After Dublin, I had stayed in touch with Georges. He was happy with the way I had handled the previous Eurovision project and was keen to team up once more. Again, also given that a Eurovision project cost me no more than just a week away from home, I was able to fit it into my agenda. Georges recorded the song in his studio – the main features in the music being the accordion and the percussion. In fact, the percussion gave the song its distinct character. That barrel drum sound which Georges had invented would have been very difficult to recreate live at the contest – perhaps if they had hired professional percussionists specialised in playing barrel drums, but there was never any talk of that. There could be no more than five people on stage with the singer, and one had to be an accordion player. Furthermore, the production team’s idea to have dancers on stage with Joëlle would not have been possible in such a set-up.”

“So, again, we worked with a backing track which included all the percussion of the studio version. Now it was up to me to come up with an orchestral sound which would fit the song. I chose not to get too much in the way of the original track. In the original, Georges dressed up the chorus with some synthetic sound effects which reminded me of pizzicato violins – and so I wrote a minimal orchestration of pizzicati. The string section in Zagreb had no trouble playing it, but unfortunately the sound engineering done by Yugoslavian television wasn’t really brilliant – meaning that the string plucking done by the orchestra could hardly be heard in the final sound mix. Only when listening very carefully, you could notice them far in the background.”

Picture taken from the official 1990 Eurovision Song Contest programme 

“Coming to Zagreb was nice, but the atmosphere in our delegation wasn’t the same as in Dublin in 1988. You could fairly say that we came to Eurovision with two different delegations. Joëlle and her black backing artists hardly mingled with us. They were a little band of their own. In fact, they weren’t unpleasant, but there was little rapport between them and us – perhaps aggravated by the fact that they came late for each and every rehearsal. Serge Gainsbourg wasn’t with us, but I hung out mainly with Georges Augier and Jean-Yves Bikialo. Jean-Yves was the accordionist and the only white musician with Joëlle on stage. They were friends and we had a good time together, doing some sightseeing as well.”

“As I remember it, one or two days before the concert, there was uproar among the conductors from the different delegations. They had heard the director of the programme had decided to abandon the traditional presentation of the conductor before each song. Apparently there was a risk that the show would last too long – and this was a way to cut away some time. Some of my colleagues were in uproar. They organised some sort of meeting and said, “Alright, if they don’t put a camera on us, we refuse to conduct!” There was a petition. I was more or less obliged to join them, but I certainly wasn’t the leader of the pack. Although I didn’t feel as strongly about the matter as some others, I agreed wholeheartedly. It was a strange idea to have a show with an orchestra and then ignore the conductors completely. Somehow, they got the organisation to reverse their plans, which meant we didn’t have to go on strike after all.”

“We came second, which was a great result. Especially Georges Augier was very happy. ‘White And Black Blues’ even was a hit in France that summer, which was really quite unexpected, given that our Eurovision entries usually didn’t even come close to any chart success in this country. It was the last I ever heard of Joëlle Ursull. I don’t know what happened to her after the contest.”

“On an artistic level, I was very satisfied when the Italian entry won the contest. Toto Cutugno and his backing group delivered such a powerful, convincing sound – and the song was great too. Still, we couldn’t help feeling a bit offended by the behaviour of the Italian jury. They were among the last countries to vote. They didn’t give any votes to their nearest rivals, which were Ireland and our song. I’m convinced they cheated on us, but what can you do?”

Joëlle Ursull on the Eurovision stage in Zagreb (1990)

Régis Dupré’s third and last participation in the Eurovision Song Contest came in 1997, when he orchestrated and conducted the French entry ‘Sentiments songes’ for a 17-year-old singer, Fanny Biascamano. This ballad was composed by Jean-Paul Dréau, a songwriter who had previously worked with Riccardo Cocciante and Michel Polnareff. As with Régis’ two previous Eurovision experiences, he penned the live orchestration to a studio arrangement by Georges Augier de Moussac. In that year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin, Fanny finished in a decent seventh position. 

“I have no idea how the song was picked,” Dupré comments, “but when Georges Augier called me, I said yes and we were on our way again! As in my two previous Eurovisions, the decision to make a rhythm track had already been taken before I became involved. Writing the orchestration for a gentle ballad like this wasn’t that complicated. I wrote a score which featured the piano and the string section of the orchestra. The rehearsals in Dublin were flawless. It may have been the same orchestra as in 1988, but perhaps the old guard of musicians of those days had since been replaced? I also think this arrangement was a bit simpler to play this time. As a conductor, I had an easy job that week – and the string arrangement worked well for this song.”

“Admittedly, this was the least pleasant of my three Eurovision experiences. Somehow, our delegation was subdivided between two hotels. Fanny, her mother, and her backing musicians were booked in a different hotel than me. They were all very pleasant, but I had never met them before. All backing musicians were young guys picked by Fanny’s producer Jean-Jacques Souplet. Away from rehearsals, I only met them and Fanny on a night when we went to the theatre as a group to watch an Irish dance show which I thought was fantastic. For the remainder of the week, I was more or less left to my own devices. Jean-Paul Dréau didn’t bother to come to Dublin. Georges Augier only came over for the day of the broadcast. I caught myself feeling a little bit bored at times.”

“It was a pity that not more media attention was created around Fanny. This was very sad for her, because she had a good voice, her song wasn’t bad either. The result showed that the juries liked her. She came seventh, which was quite good given how many countries took part in the contest. I mean, a seventh place in the Eurovision Song Contest can be the springboard for a successful career or at least an album release, but nothing of the sort happened. In fact, she has hardly been heard of since.”

Fanny, France's Eurovision representative in 1997, at her press conference in Dublin

“Come to think of it, there is no pride in taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest  for France. In most European countries the contest is more popular than here. Not that many people take an interest in it. To me, doing Eurovision was a childhood dream, but my three participations didn’t change the path of my career. Sure, my parents were very proud of me. On all three occasions, they were glued to the television, and so were my other family members and friends, but that was about it. Even most of my colleagues hardly took notice."

"Still, I’m happy to have done those three Eurovisions – and I think back on them with pride. I’ve always loved performing live on a stage, and I had the time of my life with the hundreds of concerts I did with Richard Clayderman, but none of those concerts even came close to having the  audience of a Eurovision Song Contest. Eurovision was quite special – it was a unique opportunity to perform in front of millions of people rather than hundreds or thousands. Doing Eurovision wasn’t a routine job. I’ve always been a perfectionist. When I stood up in front of the orchestra, I did my best to get the best possible performance from the musicians.”

“It’s sad that there is no longer an orchestra in the contest nowadays, but I’m afraid it was an inevitable development. Do you ever get to watch an entertainment show with an orchestra performing live on stage on television in your country? In France, there are hardly any – and this situation has remained more or less unchanged the last twenty years (this part of the interview took place in 2023 – BT). As for Eurovision, now and then, I still watch bits and pieces. The money which used to be spent on the orchestra is now invested in scenography. It’s exciting to watch those different sets, light effects, and stage props."

"Despite all of this I cannot bear watching the show for three hours on end. It’s too much – and I cannot enjoy a concert without live music. Nowadays, artists in the contest try to recreate the sound of the version of their song. The excitement of working live, of creating a new sound on that stage, for that one unique Eurovision performance, is no longer there. It may be a perfect show, but the human dimension is lost.”

Close-up, 2021 (photo taken by Hubert de Lartigue)


So far, we have not gathered comments of other artists about Régis Dupré.


Country – Luxembourg
Song title – "Croire"
Rendition – Lara Fabian 
Lyrics – Alain Garcia
Composition – Jacques Cardona
Studio arrangement – Georges Augier de Moussac 
Live orchestration – Régis Dupré
Conductor – Régis Dupré
Score – 4th place (90 votes)

Country – France
Song title - "White And Black Blues"
Rendition – Joëlle Ursull
Lyrics – Serge Gainsbourg
Composition – Georges Augier de Moussac
Studio arrangement – Georges Augier de Moussac 
Live orchestration – Régis Dupré
Conductor – Régis Dupré
Score – 2nd place (132 votes)

Country – France
Song title – "Sentiments songes"
Rendition – Fanny Biascamano
Lyrics – Jean-Paul Dréau
Composition – Jean-Paul Dréau
Studio arrangement – Georges Augier de Moussac 
Orchestration – Régis Dupré
Conductor – Régis Dupré
Score – 7th place (95 votes)

  • Bas Tukker did two interviews with Régis Dupré, the first in Paris in May 2011; and the second in January 2023
  • Serge Elhaïk did an interview with Régis as well for his magnificent and highly recommended book "Les arrangeurs de la chanson française", ed. Textuel: Paris 2018, pg. 755-769
  • Photos courtesy of Régis Dupré, Arild Stav, Bill Holland, Hubert de Lartigue, and Ferry van der Zant


  1. The RTE orchestra seemed to really struggle with Croire in 1988, but perhaps that's because the song was written and conducted in 6/8, whereas it sounds like it's in 3/4.
    I've never understood why it was in 6/8, and it probably explains the difficulties in the rehearsals.
    Having said that, it doesn't explain the dreadful tuning of the brass section.

    1. Hi Ian & thank you for your message,
      I understand your thinking.
      It's just because of the snaredrum movement, which is based on the 4th 8th note of the 6/8.
      To write and conduct in 3/4 (or 3/8) would suppose to feel the song more like a waltz (which was not the style to get).
      Régis Dupré

    2. This is great background information - thank you! Bas Tukker

    3. Wow, thank you so much for your reply, I can't believe I've had a response from somebody who conducted at ESC!
      Thanks again Regis