A flyer written (almost...) in English! (1956)





Unfortunately, we do not provide an English version of the entire website.
This page is a summary. If you have language problems with any of
the pages in French, please contact us: we will be happy to help.




Jacques Hélian's orchestra was the best big band in Europe in the early nineteen fifties. Mostly remembered in France for his hit
songs, Hélian also played jazz. His musicians included Ernie Royal (tp) who was hired by Hélian while he was touring Europe with
Duke Ellington, Sonny Grey (tp), Don Byas (sax), Kenny Clarke (drums), Bill Tamper (tb), André Paquinet (tb), Sadi (vibes),
Marcel Bianchi
(guitar), Larry Adler (harmonica) and many others.


Jacques Hélian was born in Paris in 1912. After studying dentistry, he was taught how to play the saxophone by his brother-in-law, Raymond Legrand (French pianist Michel Legrand's father). He played in various pre-world-war-2 big bands, including Ray Ventura's Collegians.
In 1944, days after the liberation of Paris, while Ventura was still exiled in South America, Hélian formed his own band and became the second best selling pop artist in France in the early fifties. The first song he performed,
« Fleur de Paris », quickly became the French liberation anthem, the equivalent of « In the Mood » for the anglo-american world. Incidentally, Hélian met Glenn Miller at the Paris « Armorial » and drank a few cups of champagne with him, hours before Miller flew back to England where he never arrived. They had planned to tour Europe together.



































Jacques Hélian's orchestra at the Paris Alhambra in 1945



Interested in a personalized compilation (WAV or MP3) where you choose the titles that you want on your CD? Exclusive
- You may first listen to our selections;
- Next, you go to our list of Jacques Hélian's songs; you select 26 titles for one CD, 52 for 2 CDs etc. (or 200 in the MP3 version) Over 600 cuts are available.
- You send us your selection and you will receive 1 CD for each list of 26 songs (200 songs for an MP3 CD). We charge 12€ for each CD (15€ for each MP3 CD with 200 songs) (+ 2 € for each shipment outside France).
- We have selected Hélian's 200 best recordings in an MP3 CD entitled "Musique en Fête".
- And remember to look at the messages (mostly in French but sometimes in English) of those who have already ordered CDs and DVDs.
Our address is: Roland Fauré, Darnac village, 09000 Serres sur Arget, France.


-Many of the songs performed and recorded by Jacques Hélian are available on CD's. You may try:


-We provide several compilations of songs no longer available or exceptional documents never released before, as well as personalized compilations where YOU choose the songs...Exclusive

- JAZZ: We provide Hélian's best jazz cuts on a CD entitled
"Lady Be Good". It includes a number of never-released titles. Exclusive

-Jacques Hélian did 3 musical films between 1950 and 1952:
« Pigalle St Germain-des-Prés », "Musique en Tête » (starring Ernie Royal), and « Tambour Battant ». Only the first is still available on DVD.
(Try the above-mentioned places.)

- We propose an exclusive 90 minute DVD entitled "VIVE LA VIE",
with live performances and movie excerpts. This is the only film
entirely dedicated to Jacques Hélian's orchestra.
Contact us for payment and shipping information.






In the film "Pigalle St Germain des Prés" in 1950
Listen to Jacques Hélian's orchestra



Jacques Hélian created (was the first to perform and record) a number of tunes that became classics. Among them: « C'est si bon » that Louis Armstrong later popularized around the world; « Etoile des Neiges » (« Forever and ever »), sung in the US by Bing Crosby, a classic in France, « Sous le ciel de Paris » (« Under Paris Skies ») that was later to be recorded by Edith Piaf, Yves Montand and innumerable orchestras. He also played french adaptations of American pop or country hits, like Tennessee Ernie Ford's « Mule Train »( "Le carrioleur"), Hank William's « Jambalaya », or Les Paul and Mary Ford's « Mocking bird Hill » ("La colline aux oiseaux") or « Tennessee Waltz ».
In his show, Hélian alternated songs, gags, instrumentals and jazz. The songs required good vocalists. In 1947, Jean Marco joined the band. He trained his voice to the music of Billy Ekstine and soon became famous as a crooner reminiscent of early Sinatra. He died tragically in an auto accident in 1953, just as he was on the point of starting a solo career. From the very beginning, Hélian introduced female singers in his band, like Ginette Garcin; in 1949, he formed a female group inspired by the Andrew Sisters that became instantly very popular.
Ernie Royal


Latest update: January 1st, 2013








In 1950, Jacques Hélian had a one-week contract in Montreal. To respond to a demand that had been considerably underestimated, the band had to perform 4 shows a day; however, Hélian never succeeded in shortening the line of people waiting outside the theatre. The next place was supposed to be New York but the musicians' union never authorized Hélian to honor his contract; this incident interrupted the activity of the orchestra for 2 weeks during which, at least, Hélian met Stan Kenton, Shorty Rogers, Nat King Cole...
Around that time, when the activity of the band (that counted up to 26 musicians and vocalists) had become sufficiently promising, Hélian decided to « invest » in top jazz musicians. He hired trumpet player Ernie Royal, (on photo) who left Duke Ellington's orchestra to spend 2 years in France; then came successively Don Byas (sax), Kenny Clarke (drums), along with the best French instrumentalists.
In 1952, Jacques Hélian's orchestra was the first big band in Europe.






In 1953, Hélian was asked by his record company to do an album of Charles Trenet's most popular songs. During the first recording session, Trenet just came to the studio to watch; he was so impressed that he asked if he could sing with the vocalists. French pianist Michel Legrand, Hélian's nephew, who had made the arrangements, quickly introduced a number of solos by Trenet. The result was one of the best French albums of the fifties.

The growing cost of such a number of musicians gradually became a matter of concern. Music trends were changing and brass instruments tended to be replaced by electric guitars and small bands. Bill Haley or the Platters became the « in »thing and they took little time reaching Europe. On march 15, 1957, Jacques Hélian said for the last time: « Ici, Jacques Hélian et son orchestre. Bonjour à tous nos amis! » Thirteen years of a cheerful, authentic music had come to an end.

  "Jacques Hélian et Charles Trenet vous invitent à la danse" was released in the US.