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Renaud in 2017
Renaud in 2017
Background information
Birth nameRenaud Pierre Manuel Séchan
Born (1952-05-11) 11 May 1952 (age 71)
Paris, France
  • Musician
  • actor
Years active1975–present

Renaud Pierre Manuel Séchan (French pronunciation: [ʁəno pjɛʁ manɥɛl seʃɑ̃]; born 11 May 1952 in Paris), known as Renaud, is a French singer-songwriter.

With twenty-six albums to his credit, selling nearly twenty million copies, he is one of France's most popular singers. Several of his songs are popular classics in France, including the sea tale "Dès que le vent soufflera", the irreverent "Laisse béton", the ballad "Morgane de toi" and the nostalgic "Mistral gagnant". His songs, with their slang lyrics and idiosyncratic Parisian phrasing, deal with both light and serious themes, alternating humor, emotion, and social criticism.

Although he enjoyed great success in France in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, his career took a roller-coaster ride thereafter, with the singer regularly falling victim to depression and alcoholism, ailments he recounts in various songs. His work remains little known outside the French-speaking world.

He also appeared in several films, including Claude Berri's adaptation of Germinal in 1993.

Although his political stance has provoked controversy, he has nicknamed himself "le chanteur énervant" (the irritating singer), due to his many commitments to causes such as human rights, ecology, and anti-militarism, which are frequently reflected in his songs.


Early work[edit]

Fresh out of school, Renaud was determined to become an actor. By chance he met the actor Patrick Dewaere and was invited to join the company of the comedy theatre Café de la Gare, which had recently been founded by Patrick Dewaere, Coluche, and Miou-Miou.

His early work is characterized by a volatile temperament, innovative use of French, and edgy, dark, leftist social and political themes.[citation needed] Raised in an educated milieu, the son of an intellectual, Renaud adopted the looks and attitude of working-class youth in the 1970s, and reflected this in his lyrics. A recurrent theme is his disgust for the average French person with petit-bourgeois preoccupations and right-wing leanings (see beauf). His music focuses on the disparity between classes, the abuse of political power, overbearing authority and disgust for the military and the police, with rare glimpses of tenderness for his fellow humans, the planet earth, and art.

Middle period[edit]

In 1985, in a concert in Moscow, in what was an orchestrated gesture, roughly one third of the spectators upped and left the concert hall when he sang the anti-militarist "Déserteur". In the late 1980s and the 1990s, Renaud's work was distinguished by "softer" subjects such as his then-wife Dominique, his daughter Lolita and his friends, as well as comedian and singer Coluche for whom he wrote the tribute "Putain de camion" ("Bloody Lorry") after Coluche's death in a road accident. He has also ventured into regional music and language, such as the language of Marseille in La Belle de Mai, the north with Renaud cante el' Nord and even Corsican polyphonics in "Lolito lolita".[citation needed]

In 1992, he financially helped resurrect the defunct satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and wrote a column titled Renaud bille en tête for a couple of years. His column appeared again in 1995–1996, retitled Envoyé spécial chez moi. In 2006, he published Les Bobos, as a satire on the Parisian lower bourgeoisie.

In 1993, he also played the leading part of Étienne Lantier in the film Germinal directed by Claude Berri.


After an unproductive period marked by alcoholism, he made a significant comeback with his 2002 album Boucan d'enfer. That album's hit was "Manhattan-Kaboul", a duo with Axelle Red which tackled current issues by drawing a parallel between a victim of the 9-11 attacks in New York and an Afghan girl, both caught up in a war they don't understand.

In 2009 Renaud released Molly Malone – Balade irlandaise, an album of Irish ballads. Produced by ex-Boomtown Rats bassist Pete Briquette, the album was commercially successful (certified double-platinum in just over a month)[1] but the singer's feeble, often out-of-tune vocals caused some negative reviews.[2]

In 2014, a collective of 15 artists released a tribute album containing 14 tracks covers of his songs under the title La Bande à Renaud.

On 26 January 2016, on his website, Renaud released "Toujours debout", the first track from his new studio album yet to be released. On the same day, he announced on the French public radio station France Inter the title of his new studio album: Toujours debout. The video "Toujours debout" was released on 26 February 2016. On 8 April 2016, Renaud released a studio album, Toujours debout but oddly sold under the simple title Renaud.

Personal life[edit]

Renaud was born at 03:30 in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, ten minutes after his brother David. His mother chose the name Renaud[3] because her mother and grandmother would sing La complainte du Roi Renaud (The Lament of King Renaud) to her, and she found it so sad that she would cry each time she heard it.[4]

His father Olivier Séchan, born to a Protestant Languedoc family from the Cévennes and Montpellier, was a novelist and children's writer. He taught German in a secondary school in Paris. The director Edmond Séchan is his uncle. His grandfather was the scholar and Hellenist Louis Séchan, who taught at the Sorbonne. His ancestors were pastors. His mother is the daughter of a coalminer from the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. Renaud dedicated part of his work to his familial roots, singing traditional songs in the regional Picard language and playing the part of Étienne Lantier in Germinal, a film based on the famous Émile Zola novel.

He is the sixth of eight children born to his father. He has two brothers: David, his fraternal twin, and the writer Thierry Sechan, as well as two sisters. He also has two half-sisters and a half-brother, children of his father and his first wife.

During his childhood, Renaud lived in the 14th arrondissement of Paris with his paternal grandparents in a building reserved for teachers by the RIVP. Among seven people, they shared two rooms. Soon his family was able to move to a large apartment, with his father being a teacher and his grandfather being a celebrated academic.

Between ten and twelve years old, he wrote novels on his father's typewriter[5] and discovered Yé-yé and the Beatles.

In August 2005, Renaud married Romane Serda, the mother of his son Malone. In 2007, he announced to the press his intention to move his family to London, citing a love for British society and expressing disillusionment at the current state of France. In 2009 Renaud's daughter, writer Lolita Séchan, married French acoustic singer-songwriter Renan Luce.[6]

In September 2011, Romane divorced Renaud on the account of his alcoholism and depression.[citation needed]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Peak positions Notes

1975 Amoureux de Paname (Polydor)  –
1977 Laisse béton (Polydor)  –
1979 Ma gonzesse (Polydor)  –
1980 Marche à l'ombre (Polydor)  –
1981 Le Retour de Gérard Lambert (Polydor)  –
1983 Morgane de toi (Polydor)  – Sold over 1,500,000 copies
1985 Mistral gagnant (Virgin)  – Sold over 2,000,000 copies; it was Renaud's most successful album until 2002's Boucan d'enfer
1988 Putain de camion (Virgin)  –
1991 Marchand de cailloux (Virgin)  –
1992 Renaud cante el' Nord (Virgin)  – Traditional folk songs from the north of France
1994 À la Belle de Mai (Virgin)  –
1996 Renaud chante Brassens (Virgin) 22 10  – Interpretation of songs by Georges Brassens
2002 Boucan d'enfer (Virgin) 1 1 1 Sold over 2,200,000 copies the most successful Renaud album to date
2006 Rouge Sang (EMI) 1 1 3
2009 Molly Malone – Balade irlandaise (EMI) 1 4 34
2016 Renaud (Parlophone, Warner Music) 1 1 2
2019 Les mômes et les enfants d'abord (Parlophone, Warner Music) 1 1 3
2022 Métèque (Parlophone, Warner) 1 1 5
2023 Dans mes cordes (Parlophone, Warner) 10
10  –

Live albums[edit]

Year Album Peak positions Notes

1996 Paris-Province: Aller / Retour (Virgin) 29 32  –
2003 Tournée d'enfer (EMI) 16 38  –
2007 Tournée Rouge Sang - Paris Bercy + Hexagone (Ceci-Celà) 16 38  –


Year Album Peak positions Notes

1995 Les Introuvables  – 29  – A collection of rarities
Ma compil  – 36  –
85-95  – 6  –
The Meilleur of Renaud 75-85  – 11  –
The Very Meilleur of Renaud 1975/1995  – 14  –
2000 L'absolutely meilleur of Renaud  – 29  –
2006 Les 100 plus belles Chansons 1975-1983  – 76  –
Les 100 plus belles Chansons 1985-2006  – 2  –
2011 Le plein de super! 15 33  – 3CD Best Of
2012 Intégrale 2012 76 200  –
2014 Les 50 plus belles chansons 57 59  –
Les 100 plus belles chansons 1985-2006 (5 CDs) 185 2  –
2020 L'album de sa vie 134 81  –
The totale of la bande à Renaud 38 110 6 2 CD tribute to Renaud by Various Artists
2021 Putain de Best Of! 16  –  – 3 CD digipack



Year Single Peak positions Album


1986 "Miss Maggie" 13  –  –  – Mistral gagnant
1991 "Marchand de cailloux" 25  –  –  – Marchand de cailloux
1992 "P'tit voleur" 35  –  –  –
"La ballade nord-irlandaise" 44  –  –  –
2002 "Docteur Renaud, Mister Renard" 23  – 6
 – Boucan d'enfer
(with Axelle Red)
2 34 4 37
2003 "Coeur perdu" 91  – 11
2005 "Anaïs Nin
(Romane Serda feat. Renaud)
12  – 31 61
"Dans la jungle" 31  – 19 64 Rouge Sang
2006 "Les bobos" 8  – 16 51
"Arrêter la clope!" 31  – 3
2009 "Vagabonds"  –  – 19
 – Molly Malone – Balade irlandaise
2011 "La liberté en cavale" (Dr. Tom)  –  – 30
2012 "Mistral gagnant" 102  –  –  – Mistral gagnant
2015 "Ta batterie" 36  –  –  –
2016 "Toujours debout" 1  – 2 48



  • 1993: Traditional music album of the year award for "Renaud cante el' Nord"
  • 2001: Lifetime achievement award
  • 2003: Three awards given for: Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, and Song of the Year (for Manhattan-Kaboul with Axelle Red)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 2009 Sales records Archived 24 May 2012 at
  2. ^ "Molly Malone - Balade Irlandaise". 18 November 2009. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  3. ^ Christian Laborde, Renaud. Biographie, Flammarion, 2008, p. 244.
  4. ^ Le roman de Renaud, de Thierry Séchan et David Séchan, Éditions du Rocher, 2006.
  5. ^ Laurent Delahousse, « Renaud, les raisons de la colère », émission Un jour, un destin sur France 2, 26 septembre 2012.
  6. ^ "Renan Luce et sa Lolita, la fille de Renaud... ils sont mariés ! Regardez ! (réactualisé)". Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d "Renaud discography". Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Discographie Renaud". Ultratop. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  9. ^ "Discographie Renaud". Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  10. ^ "En exclusivité, voici les 10 premiers du Top Albums de la semaine ! 💿 Classement complet lundi 😉". SNEP. Retrieved 8 December 2023.

External links[edit]

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