France - Olympia Hall backstage

For the 50th anniversary

See also Arnaud Dellebare in Portrait/musicians/close-up

The Olympia is a music hall in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. Located at No. 28, Boulevard des Capucines, its closest métro/RER stations are Madeleine, Opéra, Havre – Caumartin and Auber.

Founded in 1888, by Joseph Oller, the creator of the Moulin Rouge, today easily recognizable by its giant red glowing letters announcing its name. It opened in 1889 as the "Montagnes Russes" but was renamed the Olympia in 1893. Besides musicians, the Olympia played host to a variety of entertainment including circuses, ballets, and operettas. However, following a steady decline in appearances by the great stars, from 1929 until 1944 it served as a movie theater. It may have opened as a music hall under the German occupation of France during World War II, but certainly in 1945 after the Liberation, it was a music hall free to Allied troops in uniform. Attendees had to listen to the playing of four national anthems before the varied programs that always ended with a spirited French can-can performed by dancers, some of whom were no longer young. Thereafter, at times it may have reverted to movies again until Bruno Coquatrix revived it as a music hall with a grand re-opening in February 1954. After his death, it ultimately went into another decline and was in danger of being torn down and turned into a parking lot but on 7 January 1993, France's then Minister of Culture, Jack Lang issued a preservation order for the Olympia that resulted in two years of construction work to rebuild a perfect replica of the façade and the grandeur of its famous red interior.

Édith Piaf achieved great acclaim at the Olympia giving several series of recitals from January 1955 until October 1962. Jeff Buckley, long an admirer of Piaf, gave what he considered the finest performance of his career there in 1995, which was later released in 2001 on Live at L'Olympia. Jacques Brel's 1961 and 1964 concerts at L'Olympia are legendary and preserved to this day on new CD releases. Marlene Dietrich's 1962 Olympia concert was broadcast. On May 3–4, 1972, The Grateful Dead played two concerts here as part of their first major European tour. Both shows were recorded and songs from each were released on their 1972 live album "Europe '72". Dave Gahan played concert here and it was released on 2004 the DVD Live Monsters In 1981-1982, Yves Montand gave a sold-out series of concerts here, marking his return to live singing after a 13-year absence.


Inaugurated by the biggest star in France at the time, singer/dancer La Goulue, the venue has showcased a wide variety of performers, including French acts such as Dalida, Mustafa Sandal, Ajda Pekkan, Alan Stivell, Édith Piaf, Léo Ferré, Charles Aznavour, Chimène Badi, Adamo, Gilbert Bécaud, Jacques Brel, Yves Montand, Johnny Hallyday, Mireille Mathieu, Barbara, Véronique Sanson, Charles Trenet, Yvonne Printemps and the singer Alizée in a concert in 2004.

International stars have included Nas, Ryan Leslie, Tina Arena, Tina Turner, Tony Carreira, Laura Pausini, Pet Shop Boys, Madonna, Janet Jackson,Joan Baez, Amália Rodrigues, Björk, Abdel Halim Hafez, Dave Matthews Band, Lara Fabian, Willy DeVille, Amália Rodrigues, Lou Reed, Josephine Baker, Eusèbe Jaojoby, Annie Cordy, Majida El Roumi, Linda de Suza, The Animals, Petula Clark, Bülent Ersoy, Can, Ewa Demarczyk, Celine Dion, Cher, Deep Purple, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Sammy Davis Jr., Diana Krall, Dir En Grey, Umm Kulthum,The Doors, Elis Regina, Eric Burdon, War, Fairuz, Evanescence, Dave Gahan, Jeff Buckley, Robert Plant & The Strange Sensation, Jimi Hendrix, Garbage, Judy Garland, Kraftwerk, Nana Mouskouri, Tania Libertad, Haris Alexiou, Helloween, Olivera Vuco, Mika, Wings, Paul McCartney, Oliver Dragojevic, Paul Simon, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Sarit Hadad, Bob Dylan, Black Sabbath, PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, Lady Gaga, The Corrs, Lola Beltrán, Luciano Pavarotti, Mariza, Maysa, Liza Minnelli, Erick Manana, Morrissey, The Shadows, My Bloody Valentine, Nelly Furtado, New Order, Nick Cave, Nina Simone, Patti Smith, Phil Collins, Mahaleo, Pet Shop Boys, Roger Hodgson, Primal Scream, The Pogues, Stevie Nicks, KISS, Sabah, Scorpions, Simple Minds, Frank Sinatra, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Tereza Kesovija, The Beatles, The Cure, The Jackson 5, Barry Manilow, The Mars Volta, Stephen Stills, Yolandita Monge, Otis Redding, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Rolling Stones, Tin Machine, Mika, Björk, Umm Kulthum, Zohar Argov, Dionne Warwick, Violetta Villas, The Velvet Underground, Leon Redbone, Leonard Cohen, Manu Dibango, Katy Perry, Christina Aguilera, Sid Vicious, James Brown, Alla Pugacheva, Lili Ivanova, Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, Miles Kane and Arcade Fire, Zdravko Čolić & Tangerine Dream, Kasabian and Muse among many others.

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