Introduction to Raymond Lefevre
The late Raymond Lefevre was a French orchestra leader, composer and arranger. He specialized in the easy listening genre as well as recording film (Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez) and television (Musicorama, Palmares des Chansons) soundtracks. He started his professional career with Barclay Records in 1956. Along with his orchestra, Lefevre had also done many records during his lifetime from 1957 up to early in the 21st century. Perhaps his best-known work is the hit international tune “Soul Coaxing (Ame Caline).” He also contributed four entries for Eurovision and collaborated with artists Dalida, Richard Anthony and Claude Francis. Lefevre’s music also became popular in Japan where he toured between the 70s and early 2000’s.
Early life and career
Easy listening band leader, arranger and composer Raymond Lefevre was born in Calais, France on November 20, 1929. The first instrument that he learned to play was the flute. When Lefevre reached 16 or 17 years old he entered Conservatoire National de Musique in Paris; along the way he also moonlighted as a jazz pianist in the city’s clubs and cabarets.
He also played piano for jazz bandleader Hubert Rostaing as well as conductor Bernard Hilda’s Club des Champs-Elysees Orchestra. During the early 1950s Lefevre also became a member of Franck Pourcel orchestra, and in 1953 he also played the piano at Los Angeles’ the Hilton Hotel.
Lefevere made his mark as a composer and arranger when he was employed at Barclay Records in 1956, where he also recorded and released his debut LP. During his stint at Barclay, he collaborated with the French-Egyptian chanteuse Dalida. In 1957 Lefevre also scored a series of films directed by Guillaume Radot.
In 1958 Lefevre achieved his first charting single in the US, a Top 40 hit called “Le Jour Ou La Pluie Viendra,” (his rendition of a Gilbert Becaud original), re-titled in English as “The Day the Rains Came.” It peaked at #30 on the Billboard Hot 100 that year.
In 1968 he scored another hit, this time an international smash called “Ame Caline (Soul Coaxing).” It paced the Billboard Top 40, peaking there at #37, while it reached #4 on the adult contemporary singles chart. Its full-length release, Soul Coaxing (Ame Caline), reached #117 on the Billboard 200. The global success of “Ame Caline” put Lefevre at the forefront of the easy listening field.
Other music-related projects, and later life and career
Lefevre also collaborated with fellow easy listening composer Paul Mauriat, who would be his future rival. Lefevre’s lush, symphonic style became popular throughout Europe as the consumer demand for stereo recordings ensured remarkable sales of such records as “La La La (He Gives Me Love),” “Puppet on a String,” and “A Whiter Shade of Pale.”
Lefevre also composed four entries at the Eurovision Song Contest, for Luxembourg and Monaco.
A year after his biggest global hit, Lefevre’s other recording “Queen of Sheba” (“La Reine de Saba” in French) became a massive hit in Japan. On the strength of this hit Lefevre made several tours and performances in Japan, between the early 1970s up to 2000’s, where he continued to achieve his career renaissance.
Lefevre passed away in Seine-Port, France on June 27, 2008, aged 78.