Paul Mauriat (Marseille, 4 March 1925 – 3 November 2006 in Perpignan) was a French orchestra leader, specializing in light music. He is best known in the United States for his 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 grew up in Marseilles and began leading his own band during the Second World War. 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 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 Coq d'or De La Chanson Francaise with Rendez-vous au Lavendou. 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 Lefevre (orchestrator). In the USA the song was recorded as I Will Follow Him by Little Peggy March and became #1 on the Billboard charts in all categories for 3 weeks. In 1992 the song was featured prominently in the film Sister Act starring Whoopi Goldberg. More recently, Eminem included some bars in his song, Guilty Conscience.
Between 1967 and 1972 he wrote a lot of songs for Mireille Mathieu; Mon Credo (1,335,000 copies sold), Viens dans ma rue, La premiere etoile, Geant, 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 1969, Mauriat started his first world tour, visiting countries like United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and other Latin American countries.
For several decades, some of Mauriat's compositions served as musical tracks for Soviet TV programs, such as "In the world of animals" (V mire zhivotnykh) and "Kinopanorama", among others.
Mauriat gave his final performance in 1998 in Osaka, but his orchestra keeps touring around the world and has twice traveled to China. Mauriat's former lead pianist, Gilles Gambus, then became the orchestra's conductor in 1999 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 Justafre assumed conductorship of the orchestra, and led successful tours of Japan and Korea in late 2005.
Relative to his peers, Paul Mauriat has one of the largest recording catalogs, featuring more than 1,000 titles just from his Polygram era (1965-1993). He was awarded with the Grand Prix from the French recording industry, a MIDEN trophy, and in 1997 won the prestigious distinction of "Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres" from the French Ministry of Culture. He has sold over 40 million albums worldwide and held 28 tours in Japan from 1973 to 1998.