Although born in Nice, it was a move to Paris as a young man where Francis Lai grew as a musician. 1960s Paris bustled with artists and musicians and it was there that the young Lai composed his first song with ... Read more »
Although born in Nice, it was a move to Paris as a young man where Francis Lai grew as a musician. 1960s Paris bustled with artists and musicians and it was there that the young Lai composed his first song with Bernard Dimey, joined the Michel Magne Orchestra, then worked with Edith Piaf. He also met director/writer Claude Lelouch in 1965, which led to his first big screen credit with the score to the romantic drama "A Man and A Woman" (1966). The jaunty melody of the title tune became instantly recognizable, and was immediately covered many times by various artists in both French and English; it also won Lai a Golden Globe nomination. The film also included "Aujourd'hui C'est Toi," which became the theme music to the long-running British current affairs program "Panorama" (BBC 1953- ). After Lai became a popular composer in the French film industry, his first assignment for an American production was Peter Seller's little seen comedy "The Bobo" (1967), swiftly followed by Michael Winner's British comedy drama "I'll Never Forget What's 'isname" (1967) and the thriller "House of Cards" (1968) starring George Peppard and Orson Welles. However it was the delicate piano and stirring strings of 1970's "Love Story" that won Lai an Oscar and a Golden Globe. The theme song was so popular it was a hit not just for Lai himself but also for Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Shirley Bassey, and more. Lai contained to be an admired composer across Europe and the US, scoring many films including the erotic dramas "Emmanuelle II" (1985) and "Bilitis" (1977). However, the themes to "A Man and A Woman" and "Love Story" remained his most enduring compositions. Both songs were so instantly synonymous with romance that they were used repeatedly in films and on TV, appearing everywhere from Danish police procedural "The Killing" (DR 2007-2010) and the remake of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (2010) to "Glee" (Fox 2009-) and "The Simpsons" (Fox 1989-).