Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Amanda Lear

Amanda Lear (née Tapp, born November 18, 1939, in British Hong Kong)is a French 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 attention as the 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 mainly in Continental Europe and Scandinavia with hits such as "Queen of Chinatown", "Follow Me", "Enigma (Give a Bit of Mmh to Me)" and "Fashion Pack". Lear has sold 15 million albums and over 25 million singles worldwideIn the mid-1980s she positioned herself as one of the leading media personalities in mainland Europe, especially in Italy and in France where she 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-Grès near Avignon in the south of France


 1965–1975: Modelling, Swinging London and life with Dalí

"I'd grown up thinking I was ugly, ugly, ugly. I was much too tall, I was much too skinny, I was flatchested, I had my mother's Asian eyes and cheekbones so I looked foreign compared to all my girlfriends, my mouth was too big and my teeth were too big so I never smiled. And then Françoise Hardy had her breakthrough in France and everything suddenly changed. Before her you were supposed to look like Brigitte Bardot, blonde, curvy and busty. But I was about twenty when people started telling me "You know what, you look a little like Françoise Hardy, you could be a model" and then out of the blue this famous woman, the great Catherine Harlé turns up. By sheer accident she happened to see me in the street in Paris and asked me if I wanted to be a fashion model and I thought she was joking! And she said "No, no, no, you're exactly the type of girl we're looking for" and all of a sudden all of these flaws, all the things I'd been so ashamed of, became my greatest assets. By sheer accident, as most things in my career."
Amanda Lear on her modelling career
In early 1965, Lear was spotted by Catherine Harlé, head of a model agency, who offered Lear a contract. 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 Catherine 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, hobnobbing with people like The Beatles and fellow top models like TwiggyShe 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 animals in David Bailey and David Litchfield's glossy in-crowd magazine RitzWhile 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 Dalí d'Amanda), and had Dalí's approval, gives a detailed insight into the lives of both the artist and his muse (the factual accuracy of My Life With Dalí, and most specifically the dates, is disputed by several researchers of Dalí's life and work). 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 Cadaqués in Catalonia. Lear posed for some of Dalí'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 Dalí'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. Dalí 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 Dalí talk was better than going to any art school."
Amanda Lear on Salvador Dalí[10]
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 ButtonsIn 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 Pleasurean image that has been described as "as famous as the album itself" and which brought Lear plenty of exposure in the world of rock and rollShe went on to have a year-long affair with the married David Bowiewith 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 showOn March 13, 1979 she however married French bisexual 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 PeyrefitteThe marriage ceremony took place in Las Vegas, 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, a French equivalent of Studio 54Malagnac'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 debtsSalvador 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 Púbol in 1988 and then without her husband, shortly before Dalí himself diedMalagnac 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 Germany 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 1977, was recorded in Munich, 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.
"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."
Music critic Michael Freedberg[18]
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, #7 in Switzerland, #6 in Austria#6 in her native France 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)".
"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."
Amanda Lear on her Sweet Revenge album[22]
The Sweet Revenge album itself was certified gold in West Germany, France, Italy 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 a number one album for sixteen weeks, spawning further European hit singles "Gold" and "Run Baby Run" (both from the concept medley) and "Enigma (Give a Bit of Mmh to Me)". 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.
Also in 1978, Lear took part in two Italian productions: a six-episode controversial TV show Stryx and a softporn documentary movie Follie di Notte, directed by Joe D'Amato. In both of them she performed her then-current hit songs, like "Follow Me", "Gold" and "Enigma" and acted as a hostess in the latter.

 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.
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[25][26]. 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 Studios 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 "Miroir" with both music and French lyrics by Lear, futuristic electro disco like "Black Holes" and "Intellectually", plus the hit single "Fashion Pack (Studio 54)".
"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."
Amanda Lear[8]
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 (Minnelli), Francesco (Scavullo), Marisa (Berenson), (John) Travolta, Andy (Warhol), Loulou (de la Falaise), Margaux (Hemingway), Bianca (Jagger), (Yves) Saint Laurent, Paloma (Picasso) etc., according to her biography My Life with Dalí 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 Avignon.
Another hit and standout track is the suggestive "The Sphinx" which Lear has since named as her personal favourite among her own recordings[27]. 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 Saint 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 Dalí.
Lear however succeeded in establishing herself on another market, perhaps not as glamorous and prestigious but considering the vast population arguably more lucrative; the Soviet Union. 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 Germany in 1978 and were 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 because 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 Moscow 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 in Sweden, April 1980 and #10 in Norway, December 1980) producing hits like "Fabulous (Lover, Love Me)", "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 and Diamonds for Breakfast was a step in that direction. She declared: "I really wanted to be the new Tina Turner, a rough rock singer, she's still my all-time favourite rockstar". 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 the Sweet Revenge album had topped the charts and were awarded with Gold Discs. The 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" ("An Alley Cat"), again with both music and lyrics penned by Lear and specifically recorded for the francophone markets.
"The Germans told me 'We're going to conquer the world!' and I don't regret working with a German record company at all, because for my career it was great, but they wanted to control me, direct me and restrict me. They wanted absolute discipline and that's not the life for me, so after a few years of that I wanted out."
Amanda Lear[5]
The Lear/Monn album success saga neared its end in 1981, 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. 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: "Nymphomania", "Red Tape" 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 as a consequence neither did the record company. The only regular, commercially available single from the album was "No Regrets", 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, entitled A L, was recorded for Five Records. At that time Lear recorded also several single-only songs for various European labels, including "Assassino" or "No Credit Card".

 1987–1998: Music comeback attempts and television career

Amanda Lear at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival.
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 Angeles and Rome for major French label Carrere Records, 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, 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.
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 unglamorous 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 French 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.
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.
"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."
Amanda Lear[38]
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).
In 2002, on the set of her Italia 1 TV series Il Brutto Anatroccolo a makeover show that ran for a couple of years from 1999 onwards, 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 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, taking its title from a televised fashion and trends magazine hosted by Lear on Paris Match TV. 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 dubbings.
In 2004, Amanda's popular 1970s recording, "Enigma (Give a Bit of Mmh to Me)" 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, Spanish 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".
"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."
Amanda Lear on her 1970s disco work[27]
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, was released officially in CD format.
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 France 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 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 a French television show 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 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.[45]. The double-disc Brief Encounters was finally given an Italian release on October 16, 2009; the lead single "Someone Else's Eyes", a duet with Italian singer/producer Deadstar, in 2010 was remixed by Boy George. The album has been made available in three versions: standard and "acoustique" (both released in 2009), and also as Brief Encounters Reloaded, containing remixes and released digtally in 2010.
On October 14, 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 bring back Amanda Lear to the dancefloor". The album was released in France on November 30, 2009 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. Two singles was issued from the album: "Brand New Love Affair (In the Mix)" and "I'm Coming Up". The second one was available also in EP format from June 29, 2010 and has been produced by Richard Morel and included remixes by Richard Morel, Tommie Sunshine and Sammy Jo and Babydaddy from Scissor Sisters.
From March 2009 throughout spring 2011 she's been touring France with the very successful play Panique au Ministère.


  • 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'@mour 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 Vienna, where in the '90s she 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.
  • In 2002, Lear told New York's Night magazine about a run-in she had with German supermodel Claudia Schiffer a few years before. A Hollywood movie producer had optioned Lear's book My Life with Dalí and wanted Schiffer to play Lear. The singer recalled: "I ran into Claudia at a restaurant. 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


 Most popular singles



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