Franck Pourcel (11 August 1913 – 12 November 2000.) French violinist Franck Pourcel is best-known for his jazzy string arrangements of pop hits, as well as his lush easy listening arrangements and film scores.
Born in Marseille, Pourcel's father started to teach him music at the age of six. Later Pourcel studied violin at the Conservatoire in Marseille, led several jazz ensembles, including the French Fiddlers, and spent a year in Paris at the Conservatoire.
By 1931 he was working as a violinist at the Théâtre des Variétés in Marseille, marrying Odette eight years later. He then became the musical director for Yves Montand and Lucienne Boyer, with whom he went on a world tour.
He emigrated to the United States in 1952, but returned to France the following year to record "Blue Tango" and the follow-up "Limelight". In 1954 Pourcel recorded his first album on the Pathé-Marconi record label, with whom he would record a total of nine albums in a three year period.
In 1956 he recorded his version of "Only You", which sold over one million copies by 1959, and was awarded a gold disc. It peaked at #9 in the United States Billboard pop chart. It was credited to Franck Pourcel and His Rockin' Strings. It was a sound that became quite popular during the '60s, though frequently other musicians were more successful with it than Pourcel. Indeed, "Only You" was his only U.S. Top Ten hit. Nevertheless, he and the Fiddlers -- who recorded under a variety of names -- sold over 15 million records internationally by the early '70s. Franck recorded 250 albums, over 3000 songs.
Between 1956 and 1972 he was the conductor for France at the Eurovision Song Contest with the exceptions of 1957 and 1968. Four of the songs that he conducted won first place for France. As a result, France became the most successful country in the contest's early years, until Luxembourg matched its four wins in 1973.
By 1958 Pourcel commenced recording classical music. His series of Pages Célèbres led to him conduct the London Symphony Orchestra, The Society of Concerts for the Conservatoire, The BBC Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, and the Lamoureux Orchestra at the Salle Pleyel in Paris.
In 1962 he co-composed with Paul Mauriat and Raymond Lefèvre the hit, "Chariot", which was recorded by Petula Clark and followed up by Peggy March as "I Will Follow Him". The song became the main theme for the film, Sister Act. Pourcel continued to record easy listening albums and compose film scores throughout the '70s and into the '80s.
In 1975, at the request of Air France, Franck composed an anthem for their new supersonic plane, Concorde. Pourcel recorded until 1995 with EMI. He died on 12 November 2000 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, at the age of 87, from Parkinson's disease. His daughter Françoise Pourcel, is taking care of his musical legacy. (Info edited from Wikipedia & All Music)