William Sheller is one of France's most technically and musically accomplished songwriters, capable of leading symphonic orchestras as well as handling the stage alone with a microphone and a piano or writing elaborate classical pieces. In the pop music domain, and since the beginning of his official career in 1968, he's had a bunch of hit singles, from Les Irrésistibles' "My Year Is a Day" to "Rock'n'Dollars," "Symphoman," or the famous "Un Homme Heureux," all displaying strong songwriting and melodic skills and fragile, gentle vocal parts.
Born in Paris in 1946, Sheller was the son of an American father and a French mother, and spent his childhood in the U.S.A. Raised to the sounds of jazz music and to the teaching of classical music, his parents encouraged him to follow a promising musician career at the early age of 16. But Sheller only met his true master when he heard the Beatles for the first time, an experience that would imprint his entire career. Sheller sought his inspiration in this passion without ever copying their works in any way. In 1968, he formed a first band, the Worst, and hit his first success that same year with "My Year Is a Day," a song he had written for the band Les Irrésistibles. After the release of a couple of commercially deceptive singles, he got back to the studio as an arranger for Dalida and Barbara. On the side, he kept writing film music and classical pieces, showing a tendency to mix classical elements with pop music elements in a very personal way. Encouraged by Barbara, who was a strong believer in his talents, he recorded a debut LP in 1975, Rock'n'Dollars, that would be his breakthrough record. Reassured by this success, he went on releasing four other records (Dans un Vieux Rock'n'Roll, Symphoman, Nicolas, and J'Suis Pas Bien), but only hit the stage in 1981, in Bobino, and in the Olympia one year later, leading to the release of a first live album. He kept on juggling with his various skills and inspirations throughout the '80s, performing on-stage with the Halvenalf Quatuor in 1983 and recording 1989's Ailleurs record. In 1991, a recording of a piano/vocals series of career-spanning live shows was released under the title Sheller en Solitaire. The record featured Sheller's most successful and popular song to date, "Un Homme Heureux," an utterly beautiful track, but one that unfortunately channeled a distorted, less challenging image of Sheller's works. An ambiguous situation that was to be illustrated by 1994's Albion's cold public welcome, in spite of general critical praise. In 2000's album Les Machines Absurdes, Sheller synthesized most of his various musical obsessions, only to come back in 2004 with a home-recorded, critically acclaimed piano/vocal intimate LP, Epures. In 2005, a career-celebrating concert was released on DVD, and Sheller kept on working on Ostinato, a classical piece to be interpreted by the Ostinato Orchestra. ~ Olivier Duboc