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Oct 072015
 

JACQUES BREL

October 9, 1978 – Jacques Brel was born on April 8th 1929 near Brussels Belgium. He composed and recorded his songs almost exclusively in French, although he recorded a number of songs in Dutch as it was his original mother’s tongue.

Brel’s songs are not especially well known in the English-speaking world except in translation and through the interpretations of other singers, most famously Scott Walker and Judy Collins. The range of superstars who however have covered his work is amazing.

Others who have sung his work in English include Karen Akers, Marc Almond, Momus/Nick Currie, Beirut, Bellowhead, David Bowie, Ray Charles, John Denver, The Dresden Dolls, Gavin Friday, Alex Harvey, Terry Jacks, Alan Clayson, Barb Jungr, The Kingston Trio, Jack Lukeman, Amanda McBroom, Rod McKuen, Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Spencer Moody, Camille O’Sullivan, Dax Riggs, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, Dusty Springfield, Laurika Rauch and Dave Van Ronk.

In French-speaking countries, Brel is also remembered as an actor and director. He has sold over 25 million records worldwide, including over 12 million albums and singles in France and Belgium. His most frequently recorded song is “Ne me quitte pas” (“Don’t Leave Me”), usually translated in English as “If You Go Away”, overall, there have been at least 400 different recorded versions of this standard in at least 22 different languages. He sadly lost his battle with cancer on October 9, 1978 and is buried on his favorite Marquesas Islands in the Pacific.

Here is – probably not even complete – a list of international stars who have covered his work:

Karen Akers
Marc Almond
Isabelle Aubret
Joan Baez
Shirley Bassey
Beirut
Dave Berry
Theodore Bikel
Raquel Bitton
Frida Boccara
David Bowie
Glen Campbell
Belinda Carlisle
Ray Charles
Alan Clayson
Judy Collins
Zach Condon
Ray Conniff
John Denver
Neil Diamond
Marlene Dietrich
Céline Dion
Sheena Easton
Lara Fabian
Marianne Faithfull
Gavin Friday
Giorgio Gaber
Goldfrapp
Bobby Goldsboro
Juliette Gréco
Johnny Hallyday
Neil Hannon
Alex Harvey
Klaus Hoffmann
Shirley Horn
Julio Iglesias
Tom Jones
Ibrica Jusić
The Kingston Trio
Thomas Lang (singer)
Cyndi Lauper
Vicky Leandros
Brenda Lee
Jack Lukeman
Barry Manilow
Johnny Mathis
Rod McKuen
Tom McRae
Liza Minnelli
Momus
Nana Mouskouri
Olivia Newton-John
Nirvana
Edith Piaf
Duilio Del Prete
Gary Puckett
Laurika Rauch
Secret Chiefs 3
The Seekers
Show of Hands
Nina Simone
Frank Sinatra
Dusty Springfield
Sting
Stromae
Emiliana Torrini
Herman van Veen
Scott Walker
Dionne Warwick
Andy Williams
Barbra Streisand
Nancy Wilson
Glenn Yarbrough[2]