Also performs as: Del Roma
Paul Mauriat (French: [pɔl mɔʁja] or [moʁja]; 4 March 1925 – 3 November 2006) was a French orchestra leader, conductor of Le Grand Orchestre de Paul Mauriat, who specialized in the easy listening genre. He is best known in the United States for his million-selling remake of André Popp's "Love is Blue", which was #1 for 5 weeks in 1968. Other recordings for which he is known include El Bimbo, "Toccata", and "Penelope." Mauriat was born and grew up in Marseille, France. His father was a postal inspector who loved to play classical piano and violin. Mauriat began playing music at the age of four and enrolled in the Conservatoire in Marseille at the age of 10, but by the time he was 17, he had fallen in love with jazz and popular music. During World War II, Mauriat started his own dance band and toured concert halls throughout Europe. In the 1950s, he became musical director to at least two well-known French singers, Charles Aznavour and Maurice Chevalier, touring with them respectively.
In 1957, Mauriat released his first EP Paul Mauriat, a four track RGM release. Between 1959–1964 Mauriat recorded several albums on the Bel-Air record label under the name Paul Mauriat et Son Orchestre, as well as using the various pseudonyms of Richard Audrey, Nico Papadopoulos, Eduardo Ruo, and Willy Twist, to better reflect the international flavour of his recordings. During this period, Mauriat also released several recordings with Les Satellites, where he creatively arranged vocal backing harmony for such albums as Slow Rock and Twist, (1961), A Malypense (1962) and Les Satellites Chantent Noel (1964).
Mauriat composed the music for several French movie soundtracks (also released on Bel-Air), including Un Taxi Pour Tobrouk (1961), Horace 62 (1962) and Faits Sauter La Banque (1964).
He wrote his first song with André Pascal. In 1958, they were prizewinners in the le Coq d'or de la Chanson Française with Rendez-vous au Lavandou. Using the pseudonym of Del Roma, Mauriat was to have his first international hit with Chariot, which he wrote in collaboration with friends Franck Pourcel (co-composer), Jacques Plante (French lyrics) and Raymond Lefèvre (orchestrator). In the United States the song was recorded as I Will Follow Him by Little Peggy March and became #1 on the Billboard charts in all categories for three weeks in 1963. In 1992, the song was featured prominently in the film Sister Act starring Whoopi Goldberg. More recently, Eminem included an extract in his song, Guilty Conscience.
Between 1967 and 1972, he wrote numerous songs with André Pascal for Mireille Mathieu; Mon Crédo (1,335,000 copies sold), Viens dans ma rue, La première étoile, Géant, etc.—to name but a few—and contributed 130 song arrangements for Charles Aznavour.
In 1965, Mauriat established Le Grand Orchestre de Paul Mauriat, and released hundreds of recordings and compilations through the Philips label for the next 28 years. In 1994, he signed with Japanese record company Pony Canyon, where he re-recorded some of his greatest hits and wrote new compositions. Mauriat recorded many of these albums in both Paris and London, utilising several English classical musicians in these recordings.
In 1968, his cover of the Andre Popp/Pierre Cour tune “L’Amour Est Bleu” (“Love Is Blue”) became a number 1 hit in the US. The song spent five weeks at the top of the charts. Two other Mauriat singles also made the charts in the US —“Love in Every Room” and the title theme from the movie "Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang". “Love Is Blue” was the first instrumental to hit number 1 on the Billboard charts since the Tornados hit with “Telstar” in 1962 and the only American number-one single to be recorded in France. The success of the song and the album on which it appeared, Blooming Hits, established Mauriat as an international recording star.
In 1969, Mauriat started his first world tour with his Grand Orchestra, visiting countries like the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and other Latin American countries.
In 1974, Mauriat released an entire album that paid homage to his musical roots. Classics in the Air features classical music, like Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor”, and Pachelbel’s “Canon”, given the “Mauriat” spin.
For several decades, some of Mauriat's compositions served as musical tracks for Soviet television programmes and short movies, such as the 1977 animated Polygon (film), "In the world of animals" (V mire zhivotnykh) and "Kinopanorama", among others.
Mauriat retired from performing in 1998. He gave his final performance in the Sayonara Concert, recorded live in Osaka, Japan, but his orchestra continued to tour around the world before his death in 2006. Mauriat's former lead pianist, Gilles Gambus, became the orchestra's conductor in 2000 and led successful tours of Japan, China, and Russia. Gambus had worked with Mauriat for more than 25 years. In 2005, classical French Horn instrumentalist, Jean-Jacques Justafré conducted the orchestra during a tour of Japan and Korea. The Paul Mauriat Grand Orchestra ceased to exist after the Maestro's death in 2006.
He died on 3 November 2006 in Perpignan, France, age 81.