François Ovide

Born : October 1952 - Rouen (France)
Died : May 29th 2002
Past Bands : So & Co, Plat Du Jour, Albert Marcoeur Band, Weidorje, Gwendal, John Greaves Group + various session activities with mainstream artists

A Short Bio:

The untimely death of French guitarist François Ovide in May 2002 came as a shock to all those who had come to admire his musical skills as a longtime collaborator of Albert Marcoeur and John Greaves, among many others. In addition to his prestigious résumé in progressive and innovative rock, François was also an in-demand session players and had toured over the years with some of the most successful French pop artists, including Renaud, Patricia Kaas, Johnny Hallyday and most recently Maxime Le Forestier.

Also of interest to Canterbury music fans, Ovide had been married to ex-Gong percussionist Mireille Bauer for about fifteen years. Together they had two children.

Ovide grew up in the region of Rouen (North of Paris) and during his teens started playing guitar and singing folk songs under the influence of Bob Dylan. In the late 60's, he discovered Jimi Hendrix and switched to electric guitar. By the mid-70's, he had joined a community near Rouen, and was the frontman of two bands, So & Co, a rock band with violent 'protest' lyrics that got them banned from radios (!), and Plat Du Jour. In 1976, he was contacted by multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer Albert Marcoeur. This was the start of a musical collaboration that has lasted more than twenty years, through many albums and tours.

Now based in Paris, he went through a financially difficult, but musically rewarding, period, joined ex-Magma bassist Bernard Paganotti's band Weidorje during its last year of existence. Thanks to Paganotti, already a well-established session player, Ovide found a job backing singer Philippe Chatel on his very successful album Emilie Jolie, alongside Weidorje drummer Kirt Rust among others. Then, in 1981, he joined Gwendal, a successful folk-rock band, whom he stayed with through the next two decades.

Ovide first became involved in the Canterbury scene when he joined John Greaves' backing band in 1984, alongside Mireille Bauer, whom he later married. They both were featured on his Parrot Fashions album, released later that year. Over the next few years, he recorded a solo album, which was unfortunately never released. "It was a mixture of songs and instrumentals", he recalled, "I recorded it with many friends, Pierre Vermeire from Marcoeur's band, Andy Emler, an excellent musician from the National Jazz Orchestra, Mireille of course, and others... But I'm really bad when it comes to selling my stuff, so I never found a label to release it. I spent all the money I was earning with Gwendal on this project...".

After a pause of a few years, during which he continued working with Gwendal, Albert Marcoeur, and various variety singers (in particular Renaud, a left-wing 'protest' singer), Ovide found himself again involved in a John Greaves project, La Petite Bouteille De Linge (1991). This led to more concerts, and eventually the Songs project (with Sophia Domancich and Paul Rogers), which marked a move to a more acoustic direction. "In fact, in the last few years, I have rarely played electric guitar", he said in 1996. "I really prefer playing acoustic guitar, which has less to do with trends, you know, like people asking you to play with the style or the sound of another guitarist and stuff. With the acoustic guitar, I can really be myself. It's a radically different physical sensation, too...".

As a matter of fact, Ovide did a long all-acoustic tour with Renaud in 1996, with a line-up that also featured the talents of ex-Caravan violonist Geoff Richardson, then started work on a new Gwendal project which is also acoustic : "I've become addicted to Celtic music", he said at the time. "Now we have this plan to do an acoustic trio. We've started composing new songs for that and it's very exciting. So far, we have only done a radio show, but it's been great!". Sadly, Ovide played only one gig (in April 1996) with John Greaves following the release of Songs, as a proper promotional tour for Songs couldn't be arranged... He was the featured guitarist on Greaves' 2001 album The Caretaker, but because of his busy session and live schedule, was replaced by Patrice Meyer for live gigs. When Meyer left the trio at the end of 2001, Ovide stepped back in for a memorable gig at the Olympic Café in Paris and played to his brilliant standards. Little did the audience know this was the last time they would ever see him...