Three stories of rebellions that led Bernard Lavilliers... to prison

Eternally committed, singer Bernard Lavilliers spent several stays in prison in his youth.

Three stories of rebellions that led Bernard Lavilliers... to prison

Eternally committed, singer Bernard Lavilliers spent several stays in prison in his youth.

Bernard Lavilliers had a thousand lives. Some, darker than others. Born on October 7, 1946 in Saint-Étienne, in the Loire, he is the son of a Second World War resistance fighter, worker and trade unionist, and a teacher. As a child, he suffered from health problems, grew up in public housing projects and spent a year in a reformatory, a prison for teenage delinquents. A brawling teenager, he took up boxing at 13.

Bernard Lavilliers joined the Communist Party at 17, auguring a committed life. He also refused to do his military service, which was compulsory in France until 1997. "I went to prison. A year as a prisoner because I tried to escape military service. I refused to carry uniform, I was judged as a deserter and I spent my time in a fortress in Metz. I was in solitary confinement,” he explained to the newspaper Le Temps in 2014.

Bernard Lavilliers was also imprisoned in Brazil, where he left in the 1960s. "I was imprisoned by the military dictatorship. I was the friend of a former communist deputy who had gone underground. Like I drove trucks in the Amazon, I transmitted messages for dissidence. I was in jail for a bit in Belém and then I managed to escape to Guyana", remembers the singer in the columns of Le Temps.

“If prison is an obsessive theme in my songs, there are reasons for that,” he summarizes to the same source, he who also sings about incarceration in Betty, a song published in 1981. A title which tells the story of this woman, incarcerated, who wanted to commit suicide. Bernard Lavilliers then wrote this song for him. Invited on the set of C à Vous on Wednesday February 7, it was very emotional that the artist spoke of the woman he describes as a friend, now out of prison. And he concluded, with a lump in his throat: “Betty, I can’t sing it every day.”

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