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Amanda Lear née Tapp, born in Hong Kongmarker on November 18, 1939, is a Frenchmarker singer, lyricist, composer, painter, TV presenter, actress and novelist.

Lear began her career as a fashion model in the mid 1960s and was also the muse of Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. She first came to the public's attention as the fetish clad model on the cover of Roxy Music's album For Your Pleasure in 1973. She was a multimillion selling Disco Queen in the mid 1970s to the early 1980s in Continental Europe, Scandinavia, and other parts of the world with hits such as "Queen of Chinatown", "Follow Me", "Enigma (Give a Bit of Mmh to Me)" and "Fashion Pack". Lear has recorded 15 studio albums, released 60 singles and sold 15 million albums and 25-30 million singles worldwide.Radio interview, Confessions Orbitales, Radio Europe 1 (March 8 2003)

In the mid 1980s she positioned herself as one of the leading media personalities in mainland Europe, especially in Italymarker and in Francemarker where she has hosted many long-running TV shows. Since the 1990s her time has been divided between music, television, writing and movies as well as pursuing her career as a painter. Currently she lives in Saint-Étienne-du-Grèsmarker near Avignonmarker in the south of France.

Early life

Lear's early life is unclear, including her birthdate, names and nationalities of her parents, and the location of upbringing. Lear deliberately gives contradictory accounts of her early life. Raised speaking French and English, she learned German, Spanish and Italian in her teens, which she used in her professional life. According to Lear's official biography she relocated to Parismarker having finished elementary school, to study at L'Académie des Beaux Arts, before joining St. Martins School of Artmarker in Londonmarker in 1964.

Career

1965 - 1975: Modelling, The Swinging London and life with Dalì

In early 1965, Lear was spotted by Cathérine Harlé, head of a model agency, who offered Lear a contract. Lear spoke about her early life and her subsequent discovery as a model in a interview with Isabelle Morizet for Radio Europe 1 in 2003:

As a means to finance her art studies, Lear returned to Paris for her first modelling assignment; to catwalk for rising star Paco Rabanne. Just as Cathérine Harlé had predicted, a girl with Lear's looks was very much in demand; soon thereafter, she found herself being photographed by Helmut Newton, Charles Paul Wilp and Antoine Giacomoni for magazines like Elle, Marie France, and Vogue and modelling for fashion designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Coco Chanel in Paris and Mary Quant, Ossie Clark and Antony Price in London. After some time, she dropped out of art school, began modelling full-time and went on to lead a bohemian and flamboyant life in the Swinging London of the Sixties, hobnob with people like The Beatles and fellow top models like Twiggy. She became a "stalwart of London's demimonde", an exotic name on the nightclub circuit and a regular fixture in the gossip columns, and would later in the 1970s occasionally moonlight as a reporter herself, covering both the London social scene and international celebrities and party animal in David Bailey and David Litchfield's glossy in-crowd magazine Ritz.

While clubbing with Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones and her then boyfriend, the Guinness heir Tara Browne, in a Parisian nightspot named Le Castel in late 1965, she was, again according to her official biography, introduced to a man that was to change her life, on many levels according to some. The man was none other than the eccentric Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, the self-proclaimed enfant terrible in the world of art, at the time some forty years her senior. Dalí was not only struck by Lear's looks but also saw a kindred spirit in her; Lear has since described their close and unconventional relationship as a "spiritual marriage". Her biography My Life With Dalí which was first published in French in 1984 (original title: Le Dalì d'Amanda), and had Dalí's approval, gives a detailed insight into the lives of both the artist and his muse. She accompanied him and his wife on trips to Barcelona, Madrid, New York and Paris and over a period of some fifteen years spent every summer with Dalí at his home at Port Lligat, near Cadaquésmarker in Cataloniamarker. Lear posed for some of Dali's works such as Venus to the Furs and Vogué, took part in several of his film projects and could be seen by his side during press conferences and meetings with the media, events that in the age of flower power characteristically for its time and at this stage of Dali's life often turned into happenings, as spectacular as the art itself, and then frequently with Lear as the central figure. Joining the court of the Dalí's she now also regularly socialized with celebrities. Dalí served as a mentor to Lear; travelling with him, she discovered the great museums of Europe, Parisian salons and restaurants, New York bohemia and his homeland, Spain, and especially the Catalan culture, while she, in return, introduced him to the younger generation of the counterculture in art, fashion, photography and music in London. "I knew nothing when I first met him. He taught me to see things through his eyes. Dali was my teacher. He let me use his brushes, his paint and his canvas, so that I could play around while he was painting for hours and hours in the same studio. Surrealism was a good school for me. Listening to Dali talk was better than going to any art school". The factual accuracy of My Life With Dalí, and most specifically the dates, is disputed by several researchers of Dalí's life and work.

Although she remained Dalí's confidante, protegée and mistress all through the Sixties and Seventies, Lear was also romantically linked to Brian Jones, which resulted in the ironic Rolling Stones track "Miss Amanda Jones", included on 1967 album Between the Buttons. In 1973 Lear was also briefly engaged to Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music, and was that same year famously depicted posing in a skintight leather dress leading a black panther on a leash on the cover of the band's classic rock album For Your Pleasure, an image that has been described as "as famous as the album itself" and which brought Lear plenty of exposure in the world of rock 'n roll. She went on to have a year-long affair with the married David Bowie, with whom she appeared in the live performance of his 1973 hit song "Sorrow" at the 1980 Floor Show stage production which was televised in the United States by NBC for TV series Midnight Special on 16 November 1973, an appearance often referred to as the official launch of Lear's career in music. She also acted as the mistress of ceremonies for the show. On March 13, 1979 she however married French aristocrat Alain-Philippe Malagnac d'Argens de Villèle who, in fact, was the former lover turned adopted son of diplomate and controversial gay novelist Roger Peyrefitte. The marriage ceremony took place in Las Vegasmarker, Nevada while Lear was promoting her disco album Sweet Revenge in North America, just three weeks after the couple first met in Paris at fashionable discothèque Le Palace, the French equivalent of Studio 54marker. Malagnac's career, often financed by Peyrefitte, included proprietor of Le Bronx, one of the first openly gay night clubs in Paris, and briefly managing French singer Sylvie Vartan, a less than successful undertaking which almost bankrupted Peyrefitte, who was forced to sell artworks and antiquities to pay the resulting debts.

Salvador Dalí and his wife Gala both strongly disapproved of the relationship with Malagnac, whose reputation in Parisian high society they were well aware of, and even attempted to persuade Lear to have the marriage annulled. As a consequence of this, and also as Lear's successful career in music and television now was beginning to take up most of her time, she and her mentor began drifting apart. While they still sporadically kept in touch via letters and telephone through the early and mid-Eighties, especially after his wife died in 1982, Lear only very briefly visited Dalí in Spain one more time in the second half of the decade, at Púbolmarker in 1988 and then without her husband, shortly before Dalí himself died. Malagnac would go on to establish himself as a successful art dealer and antiques collector and, despite the misgivings of the Dalí's and others, was married to Lear for twenty-one years, until his untimely passing in 2000.

1975 - 1983: The disco period in Ariola Records

I Am a Photograph and Sweet Revenge

In 1975, disillusioned by a shallow but surprisingly conservative fashion industry and encouraged by boyfriend David Bowie, who paid for singing and dancing lessons, Lear decided to launch a career in music.

Her debut single "Trouble", a pop-rock cover of Elvis Presley's 1958 classic from the King Creole soundtrack, was released by minor label Creole Records in the United Kingdom, but without success. Lear however recorded a French language version of the track, "La Bagarre", which was released on Polydor in France and while equally unsuccessful there, it surprisingly became a minor disco hit in West Germanymarker in early 1976, catching the attention of singer, composer and producer Anthony Monn and label Ariola-Eurodisc, who offered her a seven year and six albums recording contract for a sum of money that Lear since has described as "astronomic".

Her debut album I Am a Photograph, released in December 1976, was recorded in Munichmarker, with most songs composed by Monn and arrangers Rainer Pietsch and Charly Ricanek and Lear writing all the English lyrics. The musical backing was provided by the same international session musicians as on contemporaneous recordings by best-selling Germany-based disco acts like Boney M. and Silver Convention, among them drummers Martin Harrison and Curt Cress, bassists Gary Unwin, Dave King and Les Hurdle and guitarists Geoff Bastow and Mats Björklund.

The title track "I Am a Photograph" was a reference to her days with the Zoli Modelling Agency, but Lear's selfpenned, witty, provocative and sometimes even slightly disturbing lyrics signalled that there was more to this former glam model than meets the eye. In Allmusic's biography on Lear reviewer Michael Freedberg writes: "I Am a Photograph is the first of six sleazy, hard-to-find albums in which she flaunts a voice so heavy with low notes it makes one wonder if she really isn't a man after all. But Lear's slow notes are simply an exaggeration of the whiskey-voiced sultriness created by Marlene Dietrich. That isn't to say, however, that Lear's lyrics — or the music's inverted proportions — don't exploit her mythology as a kinky concoction to the bursting point".

The album included Lear's first European hit "Blood and Honey", lyrically paraphrasing Dalí's 1941 painting La Miel Es Más Dulce Que La Sangre (Honey Is Sweeter Than Blood), follow-up single "Tomorrow" and a cover of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" and Leroy Anderson's "Blue Tango", all of which became repertoire standards. I Am a Photograph's mixture of lush disco, schlager, kitsch and camp, topped with Lear's deep half-spoken, half-sung vocals and her characteristic Franglais accent was a winning combination; the album spun off four Top 10 singles in Italy and stayed on the West German albums chart for thirty-three weeks alone. The second edition of "I Am a Photograph", which also contained German #2 hit "Queen of Chinatown", sported a free pin-up poster picturing a topless Lear smiling towards the camera, a photo originally featured in her Playboy spread.

In 1978, Lear continued her line of disco hits with Sweet Revenge, an album that opens with a side-long concept medley, a Faustian fairy tale of a girl who sells her soul to the devil for fame and fortune and her eventual revenge over the devil's offer - she finds true love.

The first single to be lifted off Sweet Revenge, the dark and seductive opening track "Follow Me", powered by Lear's characteristic deep and recitative voice and in fact the theme of the devil, was an instant smash hit, reaching Top 3 in the West German singles chart and also went to #3 in The Netherlands, #4 in Belgium, #6 in Austria, #7 in Switzerland and was a Top 20 hit in most parts of Europe. The single is estimated to have sold some two million copies worldwide, and has served as Lear's signature tune ever since. The 12" mix of the track, mixed by Canadian DJ Wally MacDonald and originally only released in North America, also incorporates the finale of the concept medley, "Follow Me (Reprise)".

The Sweet Revenge album itself was certified gold in West Germany, Italy, France and Belgium and went on to sell in excess of four million copies and charted in forty-one countries, including Chile, South Africa, India and Thailand where it stayed on the charts for sixteen weeks, spawning further European hit singles like "Gold", "Mother Look What They've Done to Me", "Run Baby Run", all three from the concept medley, and "Enigma ". Again, all of these tracks were co-written by Lear and this in combination with a larger-than-life image very much the creation of herself made her one of the few artists of the Eurodisco era whose star power and charisma even outshone the music itself - all according to plan - and the Amanda Lear persona left an impact on European pop culture that has lasted for three decades.

The front of the Sweet Revenge album cover shows Lear as a leather-clad S&M dominatrix cracking her whip, the sepia-toned back cover pic has her reclining on an old beer barrel with sequined curtains behind her, à la Dietrich in The Blue Angel, and the inner sleeve again pictured her posing topless. "Sweet Revenge is of course the album I'm most proud of. I put so much of myself into it. I wrote the lyrics, created the double cover, chose the pictures. I tried to tell a story. So, at least for me, it is the best one."

Salvador Dalì was not particularly impressed with Lear's musical career however: "Punk was in full swing in England. Dali was fascinated by this new trend, which he pronounced 'pounk'. He always loved anything extreme or revolutionary. Disco music left him cold. He pretended to be pleased about my success, yet he hardly listened to my second album before consigning it to the pile of records in quarantine beside the old gramophone."

Never Trust a Pretty Face

Later in 1978 Lear and Monn teamed up for Never Trust a Pretty Face, an album that includes a discofied reimagining of "Lili Marleen", a wartime classic that Lear managed to make her own and has since re-recorded in 1993 and 2001. "In Italy I'm big because they're all so sex-obsessed. In Germany I succeeded because they've been waiting for someone like Marlene Dietrich to come along ever since the war. I played on their need for a drunken, nightclubbing vamp. And I've won the gays, who are crucial because they have all the best discos, entirely because of the extraordinary legends about me."

While Lear may consider the best-selling Sweet Revenge her proudest moment, fans and critics alike usually rate Never Trust a Pretty Face as the artistic highpoint of her international career. It is often cited as a landmark in the history of "The sound of Munich", groundbreaking Giorgio Moroder/Donna Summer collaborations included, and it was in fact recorded in Moroder's renowned Musicland Studiosmarker with the assistance of keyboardist and composer Harold Faltermeyer and British drummer and arranger Keith Forsey, both later going on to become very successful record producers and hitmakers in their own right in the United States.

The album features a variety of genre exercises like the clever title track ballad "Never Trust a Pretty Face", shuffle rock track "Forget It", the cabaret-esque "Miroirs" with both music and French lyrics by Lear, futuristic electro disco like "Black Holes" and "Intellectually", and the hit single "Fashion Pack ".

The lyrics to this Eurodisco classic actually ridicule the superficial world of fashion and the decadent behaviour of the rich and famous and especially New York's disco glitterati of the era, offering some serious namedropping in the process: Liza , Francesco , Marisa , Travolta, Andy , Loulou , Margaux , Bianca , Saint Laurent, Paloma etc., according to her biography My Life With Dali all of them if not friends at least acquaintances of Lear's, but at this stage she herself had already left her days of jetsetting behind her, and had instead settled down for a quiet life with her husband in the French country side, near Avignonmarker.

Another hit and standout track is the suggestive "The Sphinx" which Lear has since named as her personal favourite among her own recordings. The promotional campaign for Never Trust a Pretty Face very effectively continued to play on Lear's 'devil in disguise' persona, with the album cover, and with most European editions also a giant 24"x36" fold-out poster, portraying her as a mythological creature in the Egyptian desert, smiling innocently, with beautiful angel's wings - but also with a snake's tail.

Despite full-page ads by US licensee Chrysalis Records in Billboard magazine for Sweet Revenge, her personal connections with Bowie and Roxy Music, a feature in Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine with photos by Karl Stoecker, the same photographer who shot the cover of Roxy Music's For Your Pleasure, and a two-month long promotional tour in the United States in early 1979, including appearances at discothèques and gay clubs like New York's Paradise Garage, The Saintmarker and The Loft, Lear's commercial success in North America was moderate, and despite promotional gimmicks like red vinyl 12" singles and the Never Trust A Pretty Face album being released as a limited edition picture disc in the United Kingdom "the English remained immune to the effect of Amanda Lear", as she herself describes it in My Life With Dali.

Lear however succeeded in establishing herself on another market, perhaps not as glamourous and prestigious but considering the vast population arguably more lucrative; the Soviet Unionmarker. Along with other artists she was one of the very few Western pop acts during the Cold War era to have her music officially released in the USSR by state-owned record label Melodiya. Both I Am a Photograph and Sweet Revenge had been released by Ariola Records in East Germanymarker in 1978 and was then followed a by a series of singles and EPs issued by DDR record label Amiga in the late 1970s and early 1980s which found their way to other parts of Eastern Europe. An official visit to the USSR had been scheduled for 1982, but was ultimately cancelled due to the fact that Lear at that point in time was involved in a legal dispute with her record company.

In the mid-eighties Never Trust a Pretty Face was however the first full-length album with Lear to be approved of the Soviet authorities and issued in the USSR itself, then under the title Poet Amanda Lear, with a less controversial album cover and three additional tracks from I Am a Photograph and Sweet Revenge. Lear has had a large fanbase in the entire Eastern Bloc ever since and in late November 1997 she finally had the opportunity to make her very first visit to Moscowmarker since the opening of the Iron Curtain to meet her Russian audiences, appearing on a TV show broadcast during the Russian New Year's festivities with an audience of approximately fifty million viewers and performing some of her disco classics like "Fashion Pack", "Queen of Chinatown" and "Blood and Honey".

New Wave style; Diamonds for Breakfast and Incognito

In late 1979 Lear recorded Diamonds for Breakfast, which became her commercial breakthrough on the Scandinavian market (#4 Sweden, April 1980, #10 Norway, December 1980, producing hits like "Fabulous ", "Diamonds", "When", "Japan" and the autoerotic "Ho Fatto L'Amore Con Me".

The album abandoned the Munich disco sound with its lush strings and brass arrangements in favour of an electronic New Wave rock style, with the guitar riff driven opening track "Rockin' Rollin' (I Hear You Nagging)" setting the tone, most likely in accordance with Lear's own taste in music. She declared: "I really wanted to be the new Tina Turner, a rough rock singer, she's still my all-time favourite rockstar" and Diamonds for Breakfast was a step in that direction.

The album cover portrait of Lear, with diamond tears designed by Tiffany's running down her cheek, is notable in the history of art and design as it was one of the first major assignments for French photographers, Pierre et Gilles.

Lear spent most of 1980 on promotional tours for the album and its many accompanying single releases all over Europe, from Greece in the south to Finland in the north, and she also made her first visit to Japan where both the single "Queen of Chinatown" and Sweet Revenge had topped the charts and were awarded with Gold Discs. Lead single "Fabulous Lover, Lover Me" from Diamonds for Breakfast famously includes the lines "The surgeons built me so well/that nobody could tell/that I once was somebody else" which is as close to a confession of a former identity as Lear has come - before or since.

Two non-album singles followed the Diamonds for Breakfast album in late 1980, a pop cover of Eric "Monty" Morris early ska hit "Solomon Gundie", and the chanson-esque "Le Chat de Gouttière" ("Alley Cat"), again with both music and lyrics penned by Lear and specifically recorded for the francophone markets.

The Lear/Monn success saga neared its end with 1981's Incognito, at which point Lear herself had become increasingly uncomfortable with the expectations and pressures of the music business in general, and her own record label in particular. She wrote:

In 1980, at the artistic and commercial peak of her international career, but with the so called "anti-disco backlash" beginning to take its toll, she had also tentatively started recording tracks for a forthcoming album with producer Trevor Horn in London. Ariola did not approve of this and in no uncertain terms made it clear that Lear was to return to Munich and provide the company and the market with another Monn product.

The result of these sessions was Incognito, with material only partly co-written by Lear, and only generating minor European hits like "Nymphomania", "Red Tape", "New York" and the French language ballad "Égal", but paradoxally turning out to be her breakthrough album in South America, with three tracks especially recorded in Spanish: "Igual", "Dama de Berlin" and "Ninfomanía".

Another non-album single followed in early 1982, a synthpop take on Peggy Lee's 1958 pop classic "Fever", Lear's final collaboration with producer Anthony Monn. Shortly thereafter she took legal action against the Ariola-Eurodisc label in order to be released from her recording contract on the grounds of artistic differences. The lawsuit was unsuccessful. In 1982 an Italian single "Incredibilmente Donna" was released, from the compilation "Ieri, Oggi".

Tam-Tam and television career in Italy

Double A-side single "Love Your Body"/"Darkness and Light", released in the spring of 1983, was produced by Monn's sound engineer Peter Lüdermann, instead of Monn himself. It became Lear's final Munich recordings for Ariola and also marked her final promotional appearance on West Germany's most important music TV show at the time, Musikladen, in June 1983.

Lear's international career momentum was however slowing and effectively came to an end in December 1983 as she delivered her sixth and final album to the Ariola label, under contractual obligation. Tam-Tam was a collaboration with Italian composers and producers. While both "Incredibilmente Donna" and the B-side "Buon Viaggio" were mainstream Italian pop ballads, Tam-Tam was a production wise up-to-date and minimalistic early 1980s synthpop album, with a soundscape dominated by TR-808 drum machines and sequencer programmed synthesizers and again with all English lyrics penned by Lear.

Although she performed some of the songs from the album on the Italian TV show Premiatissima, she didn't promote "Tam-Tam" in West Germany or any other parts of Europe and unfortunately as a consequence neither did the record company. Besides the lead single "No Regrets" which was released only in Italy.

Tam-Tam subsequently passed unnoticed by both the European and the international record buying public, which may very well have been a blessing in disguise for Lear, considering her frosty relationship with Ariola at the time and her changing music style. At this stage Lear publicly began denouncing her earlier musical output, and then in her characteristically undiplomatic manner: "The music was crap, but at least I tried to write some clever lyrics."

Instead she went on to launch a very successful and lucrative career as a TV presenter with future prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, soon becoming something of household name in what has since turned out to be her second homeland, Italy. She hosted many successful TV shows there, including Premiatissima or W le Donne (aired in France as Cherchez la Femme). In the latter Lear promoted her minialbum with four covers of classic songs, including Marilyn Monroe's "Bye Bye Baby" or "As Time Goes By from the film Casablanca. The EP was recorded for Five Records.

1987 – 1998: Music comeback attempts and television career

After having worked four years as a TV entertainer for Italian Canale 5 and French La Cinq Lear returned to music. Secret Passion was an album made in Los Angelesmarker and Romemarker for major French label Carrere, a post-disco Hi-NRG - New Wave affair produced by Christian De Walden, ready to be launched in January 1987. It wasn't only intended to be her comeback in Continental Europe, Scandinavia, South America, the Eastern Bloc and Japan, this time on her own terms, but also hopefully her breakthrough in anglophone territories like the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States, Canada and Australasia, which were more or less the only markets that she had not conquered during the Ariola years.

However tragedy struck, just as Lear was getting ready to start promoting the album she was seriously injured in a near fatal car accident and had to spend months in convalescence. Secret Passion's commercial success was consequently less than hoped for, and lead single "Wild Thing" was ultimately only released in a few countries like France, Italy and Greece, but this incident became the starting point of another phase in her career, this time as a writer.

While in hospital, Lear began writing her first novel L'Immortelle (The Immortal), a slightly surrealistic tale describing the torments of a woman doomed to eternal youth and beauty, watching everyone else growing older and eventually losing all her loved ones, still as beautiful, but unable to stop the merciless passage of time.

Mainly, she has however continued to pursue what she still describes as her greatest passion: art. From the mid-1980s, she has exhibited in major galleries all over Europe and also in the United States and during the last twenty-five years her time has been largely spent painting, exhibiting and lecturing on Dalì. Lear paints in oil, gouache and water colours on canvas or paper and has a certain penchant for portraying historical or mythological figures and the naked male body.

Lear sporadically returned to recording in the late eighties and nineties and released a series of singles and albums of new material in Italy, France and Germany, like mainstream pop albums Uomini Più Uomini in Italy and Tant Qu'il Y Aura Des Hommes in France, both released in 1989. Also in 1989, on RAI 3, she hosted Ars Amanda (The Art of Loving), an Italian chat show conducted in bed, where she interviewing both Italian and international celebrities and politicians. In 1993 Lear surprised her audiences with her unglamourous and down-to-earth portrayal of the betrayed housewife Françoise in Arnaud Sélignac's TV-drama Une Femme Pour Moi (A Woman For Me), with Tom Novembre as her husband, going through a midlife crisis. She also tried to return to a more dancefloor-friendly repertoire on Eurodance albums Cadavrexquis in 1993 and Alter Ego in 1995, none of them however producing that elusive international comeback hit and though popular with her fanbase all also with varying degrees of commercial success in Europe itself. Instead she focussed on her career in television and movies, hosting popular TV show Peep! in Germany, with her own song "Peep!" as the opening music theme.

1998 saw the release of Back in Your Arms, an album consisting of re-recorded 1970s disco hits and chosen tracks from the 1995 album Alter Ego. However, the album didn't catch much attention and turn out a failure.

2000 – 2007: Heart, TV career and arts exhibition

In December 2000 Amanda's husband Alain-Philippe Malagnac d'Argens de Villèle died in a tragic accident, after an explosive fire at their home, which was left in ruins, However, in 2001, Lear threw herself back into work and released the aptly titled album Heart, dedicated to the late Alain-Philippe Malagnac. As many music critics commented, Heart was a serious effort with Lear's own heart and soul involved and both time and money invested in the project by French record company Le Marais Productions.

The album offered club-friendly tracks like "I Just Wanna Dance Again" and cult Seventies TV theme "The Love Boat", both issued as singles and featuring remixes by prominent names in the world of dance music like Frenchmarker electro-house music DJ Laurent Wolf, Spanish production team Pumpin' Dolls and Junior Vasquez. As a contrast, Heart also featured intimate and gently orchestrated interpretations of Charles Aznavour/Dusty Springfield's ballad "Hier Encore (Yesterday When I Was Young)" as well as Springfield/Burt Bacharach's 1967 classic "The Look of Love", along with a political reading of "Lili Marleen", provided with updated lyrics in German by original composer Norbert Schultze, written especially for Lear.

Heart was greeted as a long overdue return to form and turned out to be Lear's best-selling album since the late 1970s in both France and Germany and has since been re-released as Love Boat and Tendance, the latter taking its title from a televised fashion and trends magazine hosted by Lear on Paris Match TV.

Amanda featured in Blanca Li's 2002 Le Défi (international title: Dance Challenge), about an eighteen year old boy who drops out of school, dreaming of becoming a star in break dancing, and the ensuing conflicts with his conservative mother, and with Lear co-starring as the mother's understanding and encouraging best friend - and fashion victim, giving her an opportunity to demonstrate her comedic talent.

An exhibition in 2001 was entitled Not A. Lear, a reference to René Magritte's painting Ceci n'est pas un pipe (This Is Not a Pipe), and a collaboration with unestablished young artists in 2006 Never Mind The Bollocks: Here's Amanda Lear!, a paraphrase of the Sex Pistols' classic punk album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, but naturally also a self-ironic comment on Lear's own "ambiguous" mythology, which was the theme for the exhibition and in 2008 Sogni, Miti, Colori ("Dreams, Myths, Colours"). "People only know me as a celebrity in show business. They don’t know how much more important art is to me compared to makeup and set costumes. Show business pays the rent, but painting is my only true passion, so I define myself as a painter who works in show business."

In 2002, on the set of her Italia 1 TV series Il Brutto Anatroccolo a dating game show running since 1999, Lear met Manuel Casella, thirty-nine years her junior. He has been her longtime companion ever since and the couple have been featured prominently in the pages of the tabloid press in both France and Italy. The theme of the show was a hip hop and rap influenced cover version of Melina Mercouri's 1960s recording "Never on Sunday" from the movie of the same name, called "Nuda", again performed by Lear but never commercially released.

In 2003 the Heart album was rereleased as Tendance. The new edition also included the theme tune to her Italian TV series Cocktail d'Amore, a top-rated nostalgic show celebrating music of the 1970s and early 1980s on which Lear interviewed some of Italy's most famous stars like Patty Pravo, Anna Oxa, Giuni Russo, Loredana Bertè and Ricchi e Poveri. The track "Cocktail d'amore" was originally written and recorded by Italian singer-songwriter Cristiano Malgioglio, who also composed Lear's hit single "Ho Fatto L'Amore Con Me" from her 1980 Ariola album Diamonds for Breakfast.

2004 saw Lear's vocals used for an entirely different purpose; this time as a voice artist joining the international cast of Disney/Pixar's latest blockbuster of the time, The Incredibles. She played the role of fashion designer Edna Mode, originally voiced by Brad Bird, in both the French and Italian dubbing.

In 2004, Amanda's popular 1970s recording, "Enigma " from 1978 Sweet Revenge, was featured in TV ads for chocolate bar Kinder Bueno in Central Europe which resulted in it becoming something of a cult hit again and appearing on a number of European singles chart compilations, nearly three decades after its original release. Shortly thereafter, Spanishmarker actor and singer Pedro Marín had a hit with a rock version of Lear's 1978 single "Run Baby Run", also originally from Sweet Revenge, which became the inspiration for a full-length tribute album entitled Diamonds - Pedro Marín canta Amanda Lear. Since 2004 Lear has also been a regular member of the judging panel on popular TV show Ballando Con Le Stelle, the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars, broadcast on Rai Uno.

In Bastian Schweitzer's drama Gigolo (2005) she played a has-been star having an affair with the young Karim (Salim Kéchiouche), a gigolo trying to get his life back on track, trapped in a spiral of self-destruction in the artificial jet-set world of Paris. Lear has also appeared in several character roles in independent movies. With the disco revival obviously still going strong and Lear celebrating thirty years in the music business, November 2005 saw the release of the first CD compilation to be both authorised and promoted by Lear; Forever Glam!. It contained the greatest hits from the 70s combined with selected tracks from the 80s, 90s and 2000s, plus some new recordings, including the cover of Barry Manilow's "Copacabana". The album included also a few rare tracks, like "As Time Goes By", and single only songs, for example "Assassino".

In 2006 "Queen of Chinatown" was remixed and re-issued as a single, then credited to DJEnetix feat. Amanda Lear. In September of the same year, the German subsidiary of Sony BMG followed suit with their comprehensive three disc box set The Sphinx - Das beste aus den Jahren 1976-1983. This digitally remastered forty-two track collection was eagerly awaited by many fans since none of the six original Ariola albums, with the exception of the aforementioned Sweet Revenge. In the liner note interview Lear expresses a new-found acceptance and appreciation of her disco past. She declared: "It surprises me that the younger generations keep re-discovering this type of music, over and over again. They really seem to like these old recordings, still after such a long time. Perhaps they weren't so bad after all."

In July 2006, Lear was decorated with the award Chevalier dans l'Ordre National des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministre Of Culture Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres in recognition of her contributions to French arts and sciences, or more specifically for having "significantly contributed to the enrichment of the French cultural inheritance", as the motivation reads. The occasion was slightly marred by the fact that the name appearing on the honour's list was 'Mme Amanda TAPP dite Amanda LEAR', marking the first time that the French authorities publicly confirmed that Lear's birth name indeed was Tapp, something she herself up until that point had denied.

On October 30, 2006 the album With Love was released in Francemarker by label Dance Street. This tribute is an extension of the ballads included on 2001's Heart as it exclusively covers evergreens and jazz standards by the diva's own favourite divas, among them "C'est Magnifique" (Eartha Kitt), "Is That All There Is?" (Peggy Lee), "Whatever Lola Wants" (Sarah Vaughan), "Love for Sale" (Hildegard Knef) and "My Baby Just Cares for Me" (Nina Simone). With Love was well received by the French music critics and was released in the rest of Europe by label ZYX Music in early 2007.

In 2007, Lear attracted media attention of a less favourable kind; she stunned the European LGBT communities and particularly her fans, by refusing to perform at an event held in Milan, Italymarker. Lear was booked for a performance in a gay club, but once there she refused to appear on stage with, be photographed with, or even be seen near a group of transsexual 'beauty queen' contestants, which caused a lot of bad feeling with the crowd and the annoyed organizers who even hinted at the "ambiguity" of her own past. Many of the Italian news reports about the incident cited the actual words uttered by Lear to the arrangers of the event, the Italian gay rights organization Arcigay, before leaving; "Tenete lontani i trans!" (translated: "Keep the trannies away from me!").

In the summer of 2008 Lear hosted several TV shows: France 3's La folle histoire du disco, Summer of the '70s on ARTE and Battaglia fra sexy star on the E! channel in Italy. The Italian version of the album With Love, retitled Amour Toujours, was released in 2008, and featured two bonus tracks: an updated dance version of "Queen of Chinatown" and a salsa version of "Tomorrow", both originally from Lear's debut album I Am a Photograph.

2008 - present: Brief Encounters, Brand New Love Affair and theatre

In November 2008 Amanda Lear announced on French television that she has recorded a brand new album, entitled Brief Encounters with a mixture of disco originals, returning to her classic sound, as well as some classic covers from artists such as Lou Reed and David Bowie. Another of the new songs recorded for the album is the Boney M.-esque disco number "Doin' Fine", co-written by disco writer/producer Frank Farian. The song is essentially a whole new composition featuring the famous string arrangement from Boney M.'s 1976 #1 hit "Daddy Cool", and sees Lear teaming up with up and coming British producers Carl M Cox and Nathan Thomas, who between them have worked with the likes of Pete Waterman, Sinitta, Keane, Samantha Fox and Melanie C amongst others.. Brief Encounters has been released in Italymarker on October 16, 2009 and a Frenchmarker release is planned for January 2010.

On October 14th, Edina Music announced the release of another album entitled Brand New Love Affair, which has been described by the label as "8 new songs to return Amanda Lear to the dancefloor". The album will be released in France on November 30th and was produced by Peter Wilson & Chris Richards in Australia, the same team behind new recordings for Haywoode and Nicki French. The title track and C'est La Vie were also written by Wilson/Richards. Covers of I Am What I Am and a remix of Kiss Me Honey Honey Kiss Me are also included.From March 2009 to January 2010 she's been touring Francemarker with the succesful play Panique au Ministère.

Varia

  • With her status as one of Europe's leading gay icons Lear has been a strong advocate of LGBT rights in mainland Europe ever since the 1980s, she has regularly performed at Gay Pride festivals held in France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands and Greece and has appeared on TV shows like Follement Gay and Pink TV. In 1996 Lear was one of the French celebrities to have a cameo role in the drama-comedy movie L'Amour Est À Réinventer: Dix Histories D'Amour Au Temps Du SIDA (translated: Love Reinvented: Ten Love Stories In The Age of AIDS), produced to promote awareness about HIV and AIDS and she has taken part in several charity projects to raise funds for AIDS research, such as the annual Life Ball fashion gala in Viennamarker, where she in the 90's made a temporary comeback on the catwalk to model for her longtime friend Paco Rabanne, some thirty years after their very first collaboration, and then in fact wearing the very same famous metal dress she first modelled in 1965.


  • Lear is renowned as much for her scathing wit as her reputation as a man magnet, which has made her an appreciated guest on various French talkshows for the past fifteen years. She is a regular member of the panel on French satirical radio show Les Grosses Têtes, hosted by well known radio celebrity Philippe Bouvard on RTL, where other guests sometimes refer comically to her former gender as male - which she usually ignores, and TV show 20h10 Pétante on Canal+ hosted by Stéphane Bern. She is well-spoken, opinionated, provocative - drôlissime, and is just like her mentor and father figure Salvador Dalí known for having her very own take on concepts like truth and reality. She is equipped with a razorsharp tongue but luckily also with a disarmingly charming smile and a self-deprecating sense of humour.


  • She occasionally embarrasses or upsets other guests but rarely fails to entertain the audiences with her many anecdotes about other celebrities. For example, in 2002, Lear told New Yorkmarker's Paper Magazine about a run-in she had with German supermodel Claudia Schiffer a few years before. A Hollywoodmarker movie producer had optioned Lear's book My Life With Dali and wanted Schiffer to play Lear. "I ran into Claudia at a restaurant", Lear recalls. She said, 'I love your book! Who wrote it for you?' I said, 'I did, darling. Who read it to you?' So that was the end of that. They never made the movie."


Discography

Studio albums



Filmography

TV shows and music specials

  • Stryx (1978)
  • El Show de Amanda Lear (1981)
  • Grey Street (1981)
  • Premiatissima (1982-1983)
  • Ma chi è Amanda? (1983)
  • W le Donne (1984-86)
  • Cherchez la Femme (1986)
  • Ars Amanda (1989)
  • Peep! (Beware of the Blondes, 1995)
  • Il Brutto Anatroccolo (2000)
  • Cocktail d'amore (2001-2003)
  • Tendance (2003)
  • La Folle Histoire du Disco (2008)
  • The Summer of the 70s (2008)
  • Battaglia fra Sexy Stars (2008)


Movies

  • Ne Jouez Pas Avec Les Martiens (1968)
  • Follie di Notte (Host and performer) (1978, Documentary)
  • Zio Adolfo, in arte Führer (Singer) (1978)
  • L'Amour Est A Réinventer - Dix Histoires D'Amour Au Temps Du SIDA (1996)
  • Bimboland (Gina) (1998)
  • Le Défi (Birgit) (Dance Challenge, 2002)
  • The Incredibles (2004, voiced Edna Mode in the French and Italian versions)
  • Gigolo (The woman) (2005)
  • Oliviero Rising (Antonietta) (2007)
  • Starfuckers (2007)
  • 8th Wonderland (Italian reporter) (2008)
  • Chasseurs De Dragons (2008, voiced of Gildas in the French version)
  • Bloody Flowers (Madame Charlotte, stilyst) (2008)


TV series

  • Der Kommissar (1969, episode "Keiner Hörte Den Schuß")
  • Grottenolm (Dr. Ludmilla Nerovna) (1985)
  • Marc et Sophie (1988, episode "Astrochiens")
  • Maggy (1989, episode "Doriana Wilding")
  • Piazza di Spagna (1993)
  • Une Femme Pour Moi (1993)
  • Les Années Bleues (1998)
  • Gala (Herself, co-host) (2003)
  • Sous Le Soleil (Sonia Rio) (2005)
  • Un Amour de Fantôme (Elizabeth) (2007)
  • Avocats et Associés (Herself) (2007)


Bibliography



References

Notes

  1. GEMA: Neuaufnahmen/Geburtstage unserer Mitglieder – 65 Jahre, GEMA Nachrichten Ausgabe 170, GEMA member register entry, 2004
  2. Ian Gibson: The Shameful Life of Salvador Dalí, W.W. Norton co., NY, 1997. ISBN 0393046249.
  3. The French Ministry of Culture. (July 2006)
  4. The bizarre career of Amanda Lear, The Observer, UK, Sunday 24 December 2000
  5. - Centennial Magazine 2004, biography on Amanda Lear
  6. Lecomte, Frédéric: (1990) Rolling Stones 63/90 Le Chemin des pierres, Hors-série, nº 2H, Spécial Rolling Stones,p. 17.
  7. Angela Bowie, Backstage Passes, p.164
  8. Death of Alain-Philippe Malagnac, Corriere Della Sera, December 17 2000
  9. Musicline.de Retrieved on 2009-07-21.
  10. Amanda Lear Home Page at Eurodancehits.com - Bioghraphy. Retrieved on 2009-07-21.
  11. Liner notes, Amanda Lear: Diamonds for Breakfast, Ariola Records, 1980
  12. Amanda Lear, Interview for Night, 2002
  13. Brief Encounters release details
  14. Tout sur Panique au Ministère
  15. (as heard on the 13 September 2007 show)


General



External links




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