born Lucien Ginsburg; 2 April 1928 – 2 March 1991) was a French singer, songwriter, pianist, film composer, poet, painter, screenwriter, writer, actor and director. Regarded as one of the most important figures in French pop music, he was renowned for his often provocative and scandalous releases which caused uproar in France, dividing his public opinion several times; as well as his diverse artistic output, which embodied genres ranging from jazz, mambo, world, chanson, pop and yé-yé, to rock and roll, progressive rock, reggae, electronic, disco, new wave and funk. Gainsbourg’s varied musical style and individuality make him difficult to categorize, although his legacy has been firmly established and he is often regarded as one of the world’s most influential popular musicians.
His lyrical works incorporated wordplay, with humorous, bizarre, provocative, sexual, satirical or subversive overtones, including sophisticated rhymes, mondegreen, onomatopoeia, spoonerism, dysphemism, paraprosdokian and pun. Gainsbourg wrote over 550 songs, which have been covered more than 1,000 times by a range of artists. Since his death from a second heart attack in 1991, Gainsbourg’s music has reached legendary stature in France, and he is regarded, arguably, as France’s greatest musician and one of the country’s most popular and endeared public figures. He has also gained a cult following in the English-speaking world with chart success in the United Kingdom and the United States (something no other Francophone artist has managed) with “Je t’aime… moi non plus” and “Bonnie and Clyde“, respectively.