For 50 years, Serge Langeois has lived his passion in the service of artists. The director of the Zénith de Caen who has been there since its creation passes the keys to his successor. He returns in “Bavette Normande” to his career rich in encounters and anecdotes but also to his role as a discoverer and faithful support of Norman talent.
In a show, what matters is your entrance and your exit!
This is a quote that Serge Langeois likes to recall and that Johnny Hallyday had also taken up on his own. And indeed, the director of the Zénith for 30 years, who retires on July 31, offers himself a nice outing with a book that traces his career and his many artistic adventures. “Serge Langeois, my life behind the scenes“, conversations collected by Laurent Cauville at the Ouest France editions (in stores since June 3).
Serge Langeois’ career started in 1972. For 5 years he worked as a programmer at Le Virgule in Caen. It was a small cultural hall located at the Grace of God in Caen with a varied program: from Georges Chelon to Colette Magny but also where a singer then just starting out, the Breton Alan Stivell, passed.
From 1983 to 1990, Serge Langeois jumped a step with the Georges Brassens room in Caen, a mythical place in Caen that has now disappeared, “a little Olympia” as he calls it. It was indeed at that time the only room of 1000 places devoted to song and humor. Among his great memories we find: Francis Lalanne, Charlélie Couture, Stéphane Eicher, Guy Bedos… Already Serge Langeois participates in the discovery of young talents, in particular regional, by creating Rock in France where 15 groups perform for 5 evenings.
In 1993, Serge Langeois was appointed director by Jean-Marie Giraud, mayor at the time, of the brand new Zénith de Caen. A room that can accommodate up to 7,000 people, it is one of the large performance halls created by Jack Lang, François Mitterrand’s Minister of Culture, from 1981.
On the first evening, the opportunist dandy Jacques Dutronc inaugurates the brand new scene in Caen.
It’s the beginning of thirty years of programming, hundreds of shows, thousands of spectators. Serge Langeois does not hide from bringing in “the artists who fill the halls”, it is his role as programmer. However, to those who criticize him for doing “showbusiness” rather than “cultural”, he responds to Jacques Perrotte’s microphone:
As long as we fill a room, we have serious qualities.
Alongside the headliners: Johnny Hallyday, Jean-Jacques Goldman, Sting, Charles Aznavour, … the list is too long, he prides himself on promoting many Norman artists. He is at the origin, among other things, of the association “Chansons à Caen”.
And many Norman artists wanted to say thank you in this “Norman Bavette” dedicated to him, for having supported them, helped to break through: Skye, Nérac and still other surprises..
For Serge Langeois, one of the things that makes the difference is the first contact, the welcome. He thus forged solid relationships and loyalties with a number of artists. Sir Elton John came for the 10th anniversary of the Zenith, the 20th anniversary and if he had been able would have come for the 30th anniversary!
Another faithful: Monsieur Eddy, who came to Caen many times and whom Serge Langeois continued to program when he was a bit at the bottom of the wave. A story of friendship and guts! Since he was inducted Grand Gousier de la Tripière d’or in 2011.
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Eddy Mitchell, a devotee of the Zénith de Caen in 2000
The success of the Zénith also owes it to the members of the team around it. They are 7, of which 6 were already there 29 years ago. And it is also very serenely that he will pass the reins of the Zenith to Sylvie Duchesne who was already part of the team.
Serge Langeois, a free man, he nevertheless knew 4 mayors with different labels during his Zenith years, does not intend to stop promoting artists. He plans to embark on a new adventure: cabaret evenings. This is what he confided to Jacques Perrotte around a “Norman bavette” which still has many other surprises in store…
To see from 11:10 p.m. on France 3 Normandy and in replay here.