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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Andre Verchuren born 28 December 1920

André Verchuren (born Neuilly-sous-Clermont, Oise 28 December 1920; died Chantilly 10 July 2013) was a French accordionist and songwriter.  

In France André Verchuren was known as the king of the accordion. He belonged to the populist, crowd-pleasing school of virtuosi of the instrument known as the piano à bretelles – piano with straps – alongside Yvette Horner, dubbed “the queen of the accordion”. 

Born André Verschueren at Neuilly-sous-Clermont, near Paris, in 1920, he strapped on his first accordion as a four-year old – “before I could write,” he stressed – and thus continued the family tradition started by his paternal grandfather, a Belgian miner with a sideline in bal des familles, and his father, who ran an accordion school. In his mid-teens, he began teaching at the school and gigging with his father and his mother on drums. In 1936, he won the accordion world championship, leaving audience and judges aghast by breaking with tradition and playing standing up. Until the advent of the Second World War, he juggled music commitments with work as a waiter and a gardener. 

He joined the French resistance and sheltered Allied parachutists passing through the French capital, naming his eldest son Harry Williams after one of them. However, in 1944, he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the Dachau concentration camp where he spent a harrowing year. On 14 July 1944, he was badly beaten after encouraging fellow prisoners to sing “La Marseillaise”. In common with many veterans, Verchuren didn’t like talking about the war but was commended for his actions by both President
Eisenhower and Général de Gaulle. In 1986 he was made Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest civilian honour, and was promoted to “Officier” of the order in 1997. Other awards acknowledged both his role in the resistance and his standing as the country’s top accordionist.  

Following the liberation, Verchuren struggled to recover the agility in his fingers but eventually returned to performing. In 1950, Murena put him forward for the Radio Luxembourg contest show Swing Contre Musette, which commanded a huge listenership. Appearing in front of an appreciative crowd at the Moulin Rouge, he beat the jazz combo and earned himself a record deal and a slot on the commercial station for the next 17 years – his radio career continued for another 13 years after he moved to RTL’s main rival, Europe 1.  
                         Here's "Tico Tico" from above album

Nicknamed “Verchu” by his millions of fans, in 1956, he became the first accordionist to appear at the Olympia, and returned to headline the famed Parisian venue in 2003 and 2007. He toured constantly, playing up to 150 shows a year, and pioneered the bal-music-hall concept, combining a dance band repertoire and a dynamic stage show with the odd skit. He also guested in popular films and was a mainstay of the French television schedules.  
In 1968, he published his autobiography, predictably entitled Mon accordéon et moi. A cycling aficionado, in 1972, he recorded ‘’Vive Poulidor’’, a paean to Raymond Poulidor, France’s most popular cyclist of the day. But this punishing schedule took its toll. In 1974, Verchuren’s wife was killed in a car crash for which he was held responsible since he was driving.  

“Dance halls, music and touring are like drugs to me,” he admitted. “As soon as I strap on the accordion, I feel like a different, younger man. It’s on stage I feel most alive. That’s what I live for.”

“My life can be summed up with a few impressive figures: I travelled seven million kilometres by car, one million kilometres by plane, and sold over 50 million records. But most importantly, I made 17 million couples get up and dance,” Verchuren told Le Parisien newspaper in 1992. 

He finally retired in 2012; his death on 10 July 2013, aged 91, was caused by a heart attack while dining in a pizzeria. He had two sons, both of whom play the accordion professionally. (Info edited from the

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For André Verchuren – Accordion Pearls go here:

This is a homemade compilation from various web sources, mainly from Petit Papy’s blog.

1. Andre Verchuren - Aline.mp3
2. Andre Verchuren - Amapola (J M Lacalle).mp3
3. Andre Verchuren - Au vieux bal musette.mp3
4. Andre Verchuren - Bruyères Corrèziennes.mp3
5. André Verchuren - Caminito.mp3
6. André Verchuren - Carillon d'Alsace.mp3
7. André Verchuren - D'la valse dans sa musette.mp3
8. Andre Verchuren - Domino.mp3
9. Andre Verchuren - Du bon musette.mp3
10. Andre Verchuren - Escamillo.mp3
11. André Verchuren - La chenille.mp3
12. Andre Verchuren - La Lambada.mp3
13. Andre Verchuren - La St Hubert.mp3
14. André Verchuren - La Valse de Coppelia.mp3
15. André Verchuren - Le plus beau tango du monde.mp3
16. André Verchuren - Le retour des hirondelles.mp3
17. Andre Verchuren - Le Tango Des Fauvettes.mp3
18. André Verchuren - Les Fiancés d'Auvergne (Valse).mp3
19. Andre Verchuren - Maria Morena.mp3
20. André Verchuren - Musette Rue aux Fleurs.mp3
21. Andre Verchuren - Nuits-(Tango).mp3
22. Andre Verchuren - Polka- Musette - Rue aux Fleurs.mp3
23. André Verchuren - Perles de Cristal.mp3
24. André Verchuren - Printemps d'Alsace.mp3
25. Andre Verchuren - Rendez vous au Musette.mp3
26. Andre Verchuren - Tico tico.mp3
27. Andre Verchuren - Toro Macho.mp3
28. André Verchuren - Un petit chapeau tyrolien.mp3
29. André Verchuren - valencia.mp3