French singer-songwriter Christine Pilzer released just two EPs before going on to become a fashion designer under the name Christine Van den Haute.
She was born in Nice, in south-eastern France, in 1942 but moved to Neuilly-sur-Seine, in the north-western suburbs of Paris, as a young girl after her mother remarried. She was the elder half-sister of singer Violaine. Though the pair had different fathers, both took Violaine’s father’s surname, Pilzer. (He was of Hungarian ancestry.)
After passing her baccalaureat, she took a course in fashion design and hung around with various singers and musicians she’d got to know during her school days, including Zouzou.
Her friend Frédéric Chapus persuaded her to cut classes one afternoon to audition for a job with La maison de la radio. The pair were picked and given a weekly one-hour evening slot, during which they talked about new British pop music. After two seasons the programme was dropped but Christine continued working at the radio station for a further year as assistant to broadcaster José Artur.
Around the time she left the station, her half-sister, Violaine, had just released her first record and Christine decided to follow suit.
She wrote rather clever, amusing lyrics to several songs composed by her friend Bernard Jamet and recorded a demo back at the radio station, which she then took to producer Michel Delancray who lived near her parents. He put her in touch with the Vogue label where she was offered a contract.
Dracula, the lead track of her first EP, issued in 1966, was a song about a childhood game she had played. The EP also included L’horloge de grand-père (a version of a 19th century American song she’d heard during holidays in the UK), Ils pataguent and Non, tu n’es pas seul.
The release was followed by appearances as support artist on a tour by singer Antoine, during which she was backed by the group Les Sharks. Her inexperience meant that audiences didn’t always react well to her performances and she nearly packed in the tour.
However, she stuck with it and appeared live with Antoine again the following year. She also began submitting illustrations for Mademoiselle âge tendre magazine and had articles published by 20 ans magazine under the name Chris Vanden.
In 1967 she released her sceond EP. Three of the four tracks were again songs she’d written with Jamet. For the lead song she served up the delicious Café crème, while the others were Mon p’tit homme spatial, Champs-Elysées and Ah-hem-ho-uh-errr (about a-m-o-u-r, of course).
The release was her last and she went on to do illustrations for Woolmark, amongst others. She also began running up her own clothes on a Singer sewing machine and eventually became a fashion designer under the name Chrstine Van Den Haute.
In 2001 she appeared on French television with the group Les Terribles as part of the promotion for a compilation album featuring Champs-Élysées.
With thanks to Christian Eudeline for additional information.
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