Hervé Vilard celebrated his 76th birthday on July 24. The singer knows the vicissitudes of life. He hit rock bottom before reaching the heights, from his childhood in an orphanage to “Capri, it’s over”. The woman he loved, his claimed homosexuality, his incredible rise: discover the journey of this artist who conquered the pangs of fate… and recently gave some news!
Hervé Vilard celebrates his 76th birthday, on July 24, 2022. If the singer has moved away from the stage, he recently released a new album in which he honors 50 female voices. “I have always revered female singers, loved the female voice. The songs that I propose to you on this album, crossed my tender life. That this case that I designed for you reminds you of the memory buried deep in your heart“, he confided to French Radio.
And no one has forgotten its mythical Capri is over. “I don’t want to become a stunted, jaw-shaking old singer, like I see a lot of. I have no desire to be pity”he explains to France Sunday to explain his departure from the scene.
The artist had a complicated life, punctuated with dramasince his childhood in orphanage to the death of the only woman he ever lovedgoing through the many times he has been violated… But Hervé Vilard does not seek to arouse pain. He managed to build himself, rebuild himself and weave a destiny of which he is the sole master. Find out everything you didn’t know about the winding course and sometimes tragic of the famous interpreter, who lived his (first) confinement while singing…
A childhood enamelled with dramas
Herve Vilard had a particularly difficult childhood. The little Rene Villard, of his real name, is fatherless and raised by his mother until he was 6 years old, when the right to take care of his son was withdrawn. He later grew up in the orphanage Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, located in Paris, in a poisonous atmosphere. Several times he tries to escapewithout success.
Unfortunately, little René Vilard is mistreated, suffers blows from a whip, and is repeatedly violated, from the age of 6. “They dropped the pencil, bent over and lowered our fly. We let ourselves be fiddled with a bit because we were entitled to sweets. It happened to me, but not with priests. It happened to me in an orphanage. Even judges in the 1950s touched the children of the Saint Vincent de Paul orphanage“, he had entrusted to the microphone of RMC.
Life outside the walls of the orphanage is not pleasant either. Little René Villard is carried around host family in a foster family… At the age of 16, the singer fled to Paris where he spent his time hang out with prostitutes from the Pigalle district…
The man who pulled him out of the rut
It was while being invited to an opening, when he was not 18, that Hervé Vilard met the man who was Jean Moulin’s secretary, Daniel Cordier. This becomes his legal guardian and his mentor. He encourages her to take singing lessons and to continue in the way of music. He was then spotted during an audition and signed with Mercury Records. The beginning of success and the end of misery…
Capri, it begins… The story of a hit
In 1965, when the singer was not yet known to the general public, he wrote Capri is overinspired by a tourist advertisement, without suspecting that the piece will be his biggest success… When the budding artist offers the song to his label, it is unenthusiastic. While the piece A world made for us must be chosen as the favorite title of the 45 rpm, it is the producer Roland Hilda who decides to put forward Capri is over. A wise decision, since the single propels itself to the top of sales! According to the book Great history and little secrets of summer hits, the singer records the title in just two takes, singing live with the musicians. A feat for the time…
His coming-out in the sixties
In 1967, Hervé Vilard was one of the very rare French singers to come to terms with one’s homosexuality. “It was a truth, so I said it in an interview. Even though I’ve known a few women, why lie? Homosexuality is not a disease. I don’t like to carry a flag, but I wasn’t going to hide it. It is true that at the time, it shocked. Some said, ‘He won’t make a career.’ But that obviously didn’t change anything, because people don’t give a damn. In the 1950s, Trénet, Claveau, Mariano, Sablon, all the charming singers were“, he explained to the Parisian.
Johnny Hallyday’s gift
In 1966, Johnny Hallyday starts writing a song, he who is more used to calling on lyricists. The singer, who has just made a suicide attempt, transposes his pain on paper and gives birth to the title For you I pray. But he wants a certain singer to interpret him…”I want Hervé to sing it“, he blurted out. “He had seen me perform Die or Live on TV and he had liked it. There are images of the creation of For You I Pray on the Internet where I find myself very insolent with Johnny“remembered Hervé Vilard at Parisian. See instead…
A singer and the circle of dead poets
Before and during his success, the interpreter of Capri is over frequent beautiful people. If he is the close friend of Dalida, Michele Torr and Nicolettahe also knows great writers and other French poets, such as Aragon. “Before singing, I knew Malraux. I have been friends with Marguerite Duras, to his death. It was my secret garden. I could have used them to say I was a smart singer“, he explained to The Dispatch.
The only woman he loved
While Hervé Vilard says he is proud of his homosexuality, his mind is turned upside down when he meets the beautiful Lido dancer, Kim Harlow, during a Nice-Paris flight. The love at first sight is mutual and the lovebirds even settle together in a Parisian apartment to live love and fresh water… The artist, amazed at the feelings he has for this woman, propose to marry her. For nearly a year and a half, both live in a bubble of happiness… But it bursts suddenly with their breakup which occurs because of their respective timetablesfar too busy to be able to continue to maintain their love story.
Hervé Vilard almost became a father
The famous singer has never had childrenbut he still wanted to be a dad… During his romance with Kim Harlow, the interpreter of Come back try to make a child with the dummywithout success, as he confides in his book My Life in Songs. Later, in 1992, he learns of the death of the one he loved so much and whom he has not seen for years, struck down by meningitis while she was pregnant. A tragedy that still haunts him…
What becomes of Hervé Vilard?
Hervé Vilard has not completely bowed out! “I write with young authors. We are in the draft. Only creation rooted in our time interests me. We don’t sing at 75 like at 25“, he entrusted to France Sunday in June 2022.
And to add: “To harp on the songs that made our youth vibrate is to be out of step with life, or else it means that I would not have absorbed anything and that I would only be interested in my navel. And I won’t do covers of my successes, or duets as I was offered! It’s making fun of the mouth of the public, this merchant side.“
He redeemed “the lands of his childhood”
As a teenager, Hervé Vilard lived in Celette presbytery for a time, under the benevolent gaze of Father Angrand. Memories that he particularly cherishes… so much so that, when the opportunity presented itself, in 1989, he redeem the property, restores it entirely, and settles there. “I live like a small or a big child who congratulates himself for having rebuilt his house, that of an orphan who is proud to have put down roots somewhere. I look at the horizon, my dogs, my garden… I read a book, I hear the Angelus. It’s beautiful to return to live in the land of your childhood, especially when childhood did not belong to us“, he confided to the Evening.
It’s shortly after the funeral of Father Angrand that the singer goes to his grave and learns that the property is for sale. Neither one nor two, the artist took his chance. “I did everything I could to get it, even offering twice the price. You can ask Marc-Olivier Fogiel, it was he who accompanied me. And for the record, Gerard Louvin was also on it at the time. He wanted to buy it to surprise me by offering it to me during the program Sacrée soirée“, he recalled to France Sunday. A few decades later, Hervé Vilard decided to sell the presbytery to a family of seven children… A page that is definitely turning for the singer. La Celette is over, but maybe he will return there one day…