Marc Cerrone (born 1952 in Vitry-sur-Seine, near Paris, France) is a French disco drummer, composer, record producer and creator of major concert shows. Cerrone is considered as one of the most influential disco producers of the 70s and 80s in Europe.
He has sold over 30 million records worldwide, including over four million copies in France alone and eight million copies of Supernature, which is considered his magnum opus. The single "Love in C Minor" (1976) reached No. 3 and stayed on record charts for over two months, chalking up sales of three million copies. With "Supernature" (1977), Cerrone merged symphonic orchestrations with the rigid sounds of synthesizers. At the 1978 Billboard Disco Forum, Cerrone took home six awards including Disco Artist of the Year.
In addition to Love in C Minor, Cerrone's Paradise and Supernature, Marc Cerrone enjoyed success in Europe with albums such as Cerrone IV: The Golden Touch (1978), Where Are You Now (1983), The Collector (1985), Human Nature (1994) and more recently with the dance albums Hysteria (2002) and Celebrate (2007).
Cerrone is also known for his huge live performances. In 1991, the French composer was entrusted with the task of laying on the show "Harmony" to celebrate the launch of Japan's first high-definition TV satellite. The rock opera was therein presented to over 800,000 spectators at the Tokyo harbour. This event recorded such success that Broadway asked Cerrone to adapt "Harmony" for theatre. In 1992, the musical Dreamtime which was based on an original story by Cerrone ran for 140 shows on Broadway at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater.
In a career spanning over four decades, Cerrone has recorded and performed with many prominent musicians, including Nile Rodgers, Toto, Laura Branigan, Jocelyn Brown, La Toya Jackson and Axelle Red. His music has been sampled by artists such as Modjo, Bob Sinclar, The Beastie Boys and Run–D.M.C..
Son of Italian immigrants, at the age of 12 he started playing drums and listening to Otis Redding songs. Cerrone's passion for music was discouraged by his father, who tried to distract him from his obsession. By the end of the 1960s, he was fascinated by Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and Blood, Sweat & Tears, amongst others.
At the age of 17, he convinced Gilbert Trigano to hire rock bands for his holiday clubs: Club Med (Club Mediterranée). Cerrone became the A&R scout for 40 Club Med vacation villages around the world.
His first recordings as a part of Kongas were released on Barclay Records, where he issued his first hit single, "Boom". He is most famous from the Kongas days for "Anikana-O", co-written and produced by Alec R. Costandinos. A remix was done by Tom Moulton for the US release on Salsoul Records. This mix was also used on other international releases.
Love in C Minor
Based in Paris, Cerrone recorded, composed, and performed his solo debut Love in C Minor, again with Costandinos. Released on his own Malligator imprint, and distributed by Warner Filipacci in France, it immediately shocked audiences with its controversial cover. It was later released with a new, tamer cover that took flashes of nude women into the background and replaced them with four arms clenched instead for the American release. It also featured a cover version of Los Bravos "Black Is Black" and "Midnite Lady", an instrumental piece. Cotillion Records released the album through Warner distribution in the U.S. The album was released un-edited in Canada, using the original master tapes. This was the final collaboration between Cerrone and the Egyptian-born Costandinos, who went on to create dancefloor hits such as "I've Found Love" by Love & Kisses, and the disco opera re-telling of the story of "Romeo and Juliet".
Cerrone continued using pieces of photographic and audio erotica when he released his second album, Cerrone's Paradise. It was recorded with Alain Wisniak co writing and arranged by Raymond Donnez, also known as "Don Ray", as part of his arrangement entourage after parting company with Costandinos. The original French album cover featured a naked model draped over the top of a fridge with a jar of white powder spilled in front of it. The U.S. release featured a photo of Cerrone wearing a Hawaiian shirt.
His third album, Supernature sold over eight million albums worldwide. A departure from the lush orchestration with electronic instrumentation added to the mix, it was co-written by Alain Wisniak. The lyrics to "Supernature", written by Lene Lovich, have a sci-fi theme: it concerns the rebellion of mutant creatures – created by scientists to end starvation among mankind – against the humans. The album also featured "Sweet Drums", a three-minute-and-ten-second drum breakdown. The original French album cover was again different, having a gatefold opening with nudes in the centre. The music itself was the same.
"Supernature" was used as the theme music to Thames TV's The Kenny Everett Video Show (as well as being danced to by Hot Gossip in the same show), which was shown across the United Kingdom.
The Golden Touch
After the success of Supernature, Cerrone IV: The Golden Touch Cerrone signed up for management with Steven and Martin Machat. They helped oversee his worldwide career. Steven Machat negotiated a new deal for Cerrone in the US and Canada with Atlantic and CBS outside the US, Canada as well as France. These were major artists deals for that time period. The album got great reviews in the US and Atlantic threw a party in New York City, October 1978 that was one of the largest parties ever thrown for an artist up to that point in time. The album was another Cerrone U.S. disco chart-topper. Driven by "Je Suis Music", "Look for Love", and the urban-slanted "Rocket in the Pocket", this album showed his fusion attributes, foreshadowing his future releases.
Cerrone then ventured into movie scoring, supplying the music score for Brigade Mondaine, a French film. Alternate mixes of his hits were made, such as "Give Me Love", "Phonic" (originally released as a 12" single on the Crocos label), and "Striptease". The latter was an underground hit, introduced to international audiences through the Disconet subscription service for DJs. It was a key inclusion on "Cerrone by Bob Sinclar".
Cerrone V marked a radical departure for the artist, where he made a full-fledged attempt to become the vocalist. Moving from Cotillion to Atlantic Records in the U.S., "Rock Me" was the first single and, although clubs reacted fairly well, it did not reach the heights of his previous releases. Sonically, it bears a resemblance to "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer. Recorded in Los Angeles with the musicians backing Toto, Cerrone co-wrote "Call Me Tonight" with producer Bob Esty and vocalist/lyricist Michelle Aller.
His sixth album, Cerrone VI, was the first of his albums not to be released in the U.S. and was issued on Malligator and Unidisc in Canada. Unlike his previous albums, this non-rhythmic offering, using new electronic elements such as the Fairlight CMI computer, was more of Cerrone exploring the entire musical landscape. Lyricist Pamela Forrest, a Liverpool-born, Paris-based lyricist, added her magic to the album. The instrumental, Herb Alpert–inspired "Rendezvous" received scattered Adult Contemporary airplay in Canada. Cerrone also returned to the erotic album covers, using an existing Cheyco Leidmann photograph of a bare-breasted blonde in a lawnchair, and inserting himself in the photograph.
In a true return to form, "You Are the One" was the cornerstone of his seventh record. An 11-minute version of "Cherry Tree" remains on the shelf. This album was rumoured to have been recorded twice: first with Stoke-on-Trent, England, native Kay Garner, long the voice of Cerrone's biggest successes; and then with Brown. The version with Garner on the lead vocals has never been released.
As a bridge between Cerrone's seventh and eighth albums, a 12" single, "Tripping on the Moon", was released prior and was a blockbuster import hit. Sung by Kay Garner, and vocally reminiscent in tone of "Supernature", it was never released in North America as a single. It later became a part of Cerrone VIII: Back Track. It was released on John Luongo's Portrait label, distributed by CBS. Although the title track was a mild chart hit in the nightclub, the album's lone bright spot was a re-recording of "Supernature" sung by Montreal-based Nanette Workman. Workman had a 1973 hit with the song "The Queen" on Big Tree Records. A short time thereafter, Canadian-born singer Claudja Barry did a cover version of "Trippin'", released on Personal Records.
His ninth album, Your Love Survived, featured male lead vocals other than his own sung by Arthur Simms. Simms along with his brother John had also recorded an album entitledJohn & Arthur Simms with Alec R. Costandinos on his Ibis/Casablanca imprint. Pamela Forrest also rejoined the cast, writing lyrics on the album. Re-recordings of hits such as "Give Me Love", "Look for Love", and "Call Me Tonight" were also featured on this double LP set. Key tracks included "Get Your Lovin'" and "Workout".
Another return to form was his tenth album, Where Are You Now?. Sung by American Carole Rowley and released on Malligator in France, Hi-NRG producer and mixer Ian Levine was tabbed to do the mix, prompting a 12" release on the Record Shack label. In 1984, "Club Underworld" was also released as a single, in both France and the United States on Personal Records, with a new mix.
Perhaps the most-interesting Cerrone record that was never to be on a full-length album was his interpretation of "Standing in the Shadows of Love" intertwined with his own composition "Freak Connection". It was released only in France.
Cerrone's boutique label, Crocos, was the home to a number of independently produced projects. "Africanism" by Kongas, arranged by Don Ray, was an energetic fusion of tribal drum beats and emotive male vocals framed around a cover version of "Gimme Some Lovin'" by Traffic. It was licensed for North American distribution in a deal between Cerrone and Polydor U.S.
Don Ray created a furore with his dance-pop album Garden of Love, which was written with Cerrone, the entire album is considered a seminal classic. Hits such as "Got to Have Lovin'", "Body & Soul", and "Standing in the Rain" guided the album to No. 1 Stateside. The previously mentioned Lene Lovich wrote the lyrics.
Revelacion, a studio act, released two albums: a side-long version of "House Of The Rising Sun" on Crocos (which was also released at almost the same time as Santa Esmeralda's second album) and "Don't Give A Damn", a 16-minute electronic-spiced, downtempo track recalling "Music of Life" on Malligator.
He also produced singles "Tonight the Night" for percussionist Mo Cooper and "Phonic" by Cristal, the latter of which echoes the synth boom that was started by Space's "Magic Fly". A song featuring La Toya Jackson was also issued, entitled "Oops, Oh No".
In 1992, Cerrone's show Dreamtime ran on Broadway at The Ed Sullivan Theater. In 1995 the Dream CD, with music from the Broadway musical Dreamtime, was released by Malligator, a division of Unidisc Music, Inc.
By the 2000s, Cerrone's European success helped his 2002 hit "Hysteria", and the album become a success. By 2007, he issued the song "Laisser Toucher". It is the lead single from his album Celebrate!, released in early 2008. The second single from the album was "Misunderstanding". Cerrone issued his twentieth album release, Love Ritual on 7 July 2008. The lead single is the title track which preceded the full-length album. "Love Ritual" also has a supporting music video. It was quickly followed by the next two singles, "It Had to Be You" and "Tattoo Woman". The single, "Tattoo Woman" with remixes by Jamie Lewis was made available domestically in the U.S. on traxsource.com.
On 12 March 2009, Cerrone released the album Cerrone by Jamie Lewis for free on his website. He stated that "music is condemned to be free and that it is necessary to find other solutions to make revenues".
In September 2016 he released the single "Move Me" featuring Brendan Reilly as a precursor to the forthcoming album Red Lips. It was followed by a remix EP of the same song in January 2017 released through Big Beat Atlantic Records.
The big events
He performed in front of hundreds of thousands of people at huge concerts and events such as the 2005 Dance Party Live in Versailles and the 2000 Los Angeles Millennium Célébration where, at the request of the Mayor of Los Angeles, Cerrone staged the initials Hollywood and produced an exceptional opera. Also in 1989, he performed in the concert at Paris's Place de la Concorde for the celebration of the bicentenary of the Revolution in front of more than 600,000 spectators. In 1991 he performed a concert event in Tokyo for the launch of the first HD satellite TV channel in Japan. He claims, and it is often credited by others, that he was "the first" to put the kick drum (or bass drum) into the foreground of modern dance music.
- In November 1988, he organized a production of the rock opera The Collector on the square of Trocadéro (the site of the Palais de Chaillot) at the request of Jack Lang, then the French Minister of Culture, and the City Hall of Paris.
- On 14 July 1989, he participated in the celebrations of the Bicentenary of the French Revolution on the edges of the Seine.
- In 1991, Cerrone performed the concert show "Harmony", which took place in the Port of Tokyo during the evening for the launch of the first Japanese high definition television channel.
- On 12 July 1996, he produced a show of sounds and lights for peace, with the support of the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, settled off the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.
- He played at the Los Angeles Millennium Celebration, which was held to mark the passage into the year 2000.
- On 1 July 2005, he organized a free concert at the Palace of Versailles, claiming it was "the biggest discotheque in the world" which was followed the next day by the concert Live 8.
- On 17 November of the same year, he released the DVD Live Cerrone at Versailles.
- In 2008, with his old accomplice Nile Rodgers, he organized the "NY Dance Party" in the middle of Central Park, in New York, recreation of a huge discothèque to celebrate thirty years of dance music (the event was originally planned for 6 October 2007 and had to be held in Times Square, between 42nd and 49th Street).
Return to the foreground
In 2000, Bob Sinclar worked with Cerrone for his disco album, which was released in 2001 under the title Cerrone by Bob Sinclar.
In 2002, he released the album Hysteria. The song "Hysteria" was the only single from the album. In February 2005, he signed the score of the French adaptation of A Clockwork Orange given in the Cirque d'Hiver in Paris.
In 2005, Cerrone is promoted to the rank of Commandeur in the Order of Arts and Letters.
By 2009, Joey Negro released a remix of Cerrone's "Paradise". He became one of the members of the jury of the television program, X Factor in France on W9 and in Belgium on RTL-TVI.
Cerrone Symphony, Variations of Supernature was released in February 2010 with a first single: "Supernature Project" featuring Dax Riders.
The show "Supernature Symphony" took place in Paris-La-Défense on 2 October 2010, in the evening of "Nuit Blanche". It was the first date of his tour which included Los Angeles, London, Rome, Dubai and Moscow.
- Kongas – Kongas
- Kongas – Africanism
- Donray – Garden of Love
- Love in C Minor (Cerrone I) (1976)
- Cerrone's Paradise (Cerrone II) (1977)
- Supernature (Cerrone III) (1977)
- Brigade Mondaine (1978)
- Cerrone IV: The Golden Touch (1978)
- Angelina (Cerrone V) (1979)
- Portrait of a Modern Man (Cerrone VI) (1980)
- You Are The One (Cerrone VII) (1980)
- Back Track (Cerrone VIII) (1982)
- Your Love Survived (Cerrone IX) (1982)
- Where Are You Now (1983)
- The Collector (Cerrone XI) (1985)
- Way In (Cerrone XII) (1989)
- Dancing Machine (Cerrone XIII)(1990)
- Dream (Cerrone XIV) (1992)
- X-Xex (Cerrone XV) (1993)
- Human Nature (Cerrone XVI) (1994)
- Best of Remixes (1995)
- Cerrone by Bob Sinclar (Cerrone XVII) (2001)
- Hysteria (Cerrone XVIII) (2002)
- Culture: The best of (Cerrone XIX) (2004)
- Orange Mécanique – The Score (Cerrone XX) (2006)
- Celebrate! (Cerrone XXI) (2007)
- Love Ritual (Cerrone XXII) (2008)
- Cerrone by Jamie Lewis (Cerrone XXIII) (2009)
- Variations of supernature (Cerrone XXIV) (2010)
- Addict (2012)
- Afro EP (2016)
- Red Lips (2017)
- Live: Paris (1978)
- Live: Paris (1983)
- Orange Mecanique (The Score) (2006)
- The Best of Cerrone (2014)
- Vice Squad
- La secte de Marakech
- Vaudou aux Caraïbes
- Dancin' Machine
- "Love in C Minor" (1976)
- "Supernature" (1977)
- "Give Me Love" (1978)
- "Sweet Drums" (1978)
- "Je Suis Music" (1978)
- "Look for Love" (1978)
- "Rocket in the Pocket" (1979)
- "Rock Me" (1979)
- "You Are the One" (1981)
- "Tripping on the Moon" (1981)
- "Heart of Me" (with Laura Branigan) (1989)
- "Hysteria" (2002)
- "Misunderstanding" (2007)
- "Love & Dance Ritual" (2007)
- "Laisser Toucher" (2008)
- "It Had to Be You" (2008)
- "Tattoo Woman" (2009)