Despite recording some top-notch tunes, Belgian singer Ariane remains largely overlooked in the history of francophone femme pop. Nevertheless, she enjoyed success, first with four friends as part of the group Ariane et les 10/20, and then after going solo.
She was born Ariane Buyst in Brussels, Belgium, in 1944. Her father was a publisher of brass band music and owned a shop in the city that sold musical instruments.
Ariane grew up playing the guitar and went on to study music and music theory at college.
In 1963, she appeared as part of the group Les Croque-notes before quitting to form her own band. Cue Ariane et ses Copains, which – as their name suggests – she set up with four male friends. Ariane provided vocals and played the guitar.
The group’s earliest appearances were in Ariane’s father’s shop, but it didn’t take long before they came to the attention of local club owner Jean-Paul Wittemans. He was particularly impressed by Ariane (the pair would later marry) and arranged for them to perform a launch concert at his club, Cousins, on Brussels’ Grand Place.
The evening was a success and Wittemans rushed the group into the studio to record a demo in early 1964.
The demo was heard by Jean Kluger of Palette records, who offered the group a contract. But he insisted that they change their name, so they became Ariane et les 10/20, after a well-known shop in Brussels.
The Ravens’ I just wanna hear you say ‘I love you’ was overhauled to become Comme les fous and issued as the group’s first single.
Things really stepped up a gear for their next release. Kluger had heard Michèle Torr’s hit song Dans mes bras oublie ta peine (a version of a little-known US release by Ginny Arnell, Let me make you smile again) on a trip to France and decided that Ariane and the guys should record the Belgian take on the song.
The single was released in July 1964, with the equally good Je ne sais pourquoi (a cover of the Rip Chords’ surfer gem Hey little cobra) on the B-side.
All four recordings to date were also issued on an EP that year.
Reste à ta place followed that autumn on both a 45 and a four-track EP. The release is also notable for its covers of the Pam Sawyer-penned Light bulb (Play-boy) and Paul Revere and the Raiders’ Louie, go home (Louie, reviens chez toi).
The excellent Les petits mots d’amour followed it in the spring of 1965 and Questions later that year.
Ariane and the guys toured extensively, providing support for acts such as Adamo, Cliff Richard and Ray Charles. However, various changes to the line up of the group around this time altered the closeness and camaraderie they had previously enjoyed, and Ariane decided to take up Palette’s offer of a solo career.
1. 2. 3. – a cover of a UK hit for Len Barry – was issued as her first single, in the spring of 1966. To raise her profile, the record label signed her up to represent Belgium at that year’s Knokke Cup song festival, where she competed against the likes of Britain’s Truly Smith, Germany’s Katja Ebstein and Marion and the Netherlands’ Janneke Peper.
C’est pour toi became her follow up 45 later that year. The song was a great cover of US girl group The Ronettes’ You baby.
Wittemans then roped in French star Pascal Danel to write a song for the singer. The result was Nicolas, which was issued as an A-side in January 1967. (Fans, however, tend to prefer to flip the disc for Les gémeaux.)
Just one further solo disc followed – Toi – before Ariane’s solo career stalled, though she did sing on Stadivarius’ Walking on the Bach’s world, at the end of 1967.
She is thought to have gone on to follow in her father’s father footsteps by opening a shop – though rather than a music shop, she opted for a high class antique dealership on Brussels’ prestigious Avenue Louise.
With thanks to the Memoire rock 60/70 for additional information and Matthew Meek r additional sound files.
Our pick of the pops
C'est pour toi
Les petits mots d'amour
Dans mes bras oublie ta peine
1. 2. 3.
Je ne sais pourquoi
Louie, reviens chez toi
Follow the links to hear other singers’ versions of Ariane songs
1. 2. 3.
Annie Markan: Un, deux, trios
C’est pour toi
Jackie Trent: You baby
Dans mes bras oublie ta peine
Michèle Torr: Dans mes bras oublie ta peine