Friday, August 1, 2008

Words Don't Come Easy For F.R.

When F.R. David hit the music charts in early 1983 with the song ‘Words’, few knew that he already had an established career in music stretching back more than a decade. Born Robert Fitoussi in the north African nation of Tunisia, David moved with his family to Paris as a teen during the mid 60s. Based in Paris, David became a professional guitarist in his late teens, played in a short lived band called Cockpit, and by the early 1970s was working with the likes of Vangelis as a touring and studio musician.

He then fronted the French rock band Les Variations for a period opening for the likes of Aerosmith and Guess Who, before relocating to the U.S. following a tour there. He spent around five years Stateside establishing a strong reputation as a session guitarist, working with artist of the calibre of the Doobie Brothers, the O’Jays and Toto. He also recorded his debut solo album ‘King Of Hearts’ under his birth name of Robert Fitoussi.

Upon returning to Europe F.R. David became a key figure in the emerging Eurobeat movement, recording the dance style hit ‘Pick Up The Phone’, the song cited as a source of inspiration for the likes of Modern Talking and Blue System. The song was featured on David’s 1982 album titled ‘Words’.

The album’s title track ‘Words’ was somewhat of an anomaly within the context of F.R. David’s career output, but it would become the biggest hit of his career by far. The gentle up-tempo pop ballad belied the singer’s musical heritage, and for most outside of Europe, consigned him to the one hit wonder pigeonhole (that pigeonhole has become densely populated over the years - often mistakingly). Aside from the trademark sunglasses and white Fender Stratocaster guitar, F.R. David appeared and sounded anything but a rock musician. But regardless of the sound and vision, ‘Words’ proved one of the monster hits across Europe and beyond during 1982/3, selling over 8 millions copies worldwide. It reached the number one spot in over a dozen European countries charts. In January ‘83 ‘Words’ debuted on the Australian charts and set up a marathon 41 week residency inside the top 100, peaking at #12. It reached #2 on the U.K. charts in mid ‘83 (following a much hyped appearance on Top Of The Pops) and reached #13 on the U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary charts during the same period. The source album ‘Words’ sold in huge numbers in continental Europe whilst it reached #46 in Britain. It also yielded the minor hit ‘Music’ (hmmm…‘Words’…‘Music’…why there seems to be a subtle connection there).

David’s follow up was 1984’s ‘Long Distance Flight’, which though again racking up solid sales figures in parts of Europe failed to get off the ground in other markets. The album style was firmly in the realm of what was dubbed ‘Hi-Energy’ dance music, so called due to its high beats per minute tempo.

1986 saw F.R. David record the album ‘Sahara Night’ after a move to the CBS label, a set that explored a myriad of musical styles, and he followed this up with 1987’s ‘Reflections’. In 1994 David reconnected with his rock roots on the album ‘I’ll Try To Love Again’, followed by a return to club music with 1997’s ‘I’m Not In Love’. In more recent years F.R. David has continued to explore and innovate, remaining a musician of unwavering integrity. His later projects have included working with the London Symphony Orchestra and Bob Sinclar, with 2007’s album ‘The Wheel’ featuring a 25th anniversary remix of ‘Words’ with new vocals by French singer Winda.

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