documenting the optical sounds of '60s pop, Acid Punk & Psychedelia

Les Gypsys – Proletaire (Relax)

 “Proletaire” / “Je Ne Te Pardonnerai Pas” (Relax Iramac 17.001) 1967

A superb but little known 45 was released by French group Les Gypsys in early 1967. Sadly only 500 copies were pressed by the tiny label Relax Iramac and original copies are now sought after but very expensive. Expect to pay 200 Euros for a copy.

’Proletaire’ is a monstrous beat number with spiky guitar leads giving the listener an instant adrenaline rush. The flip ’Je Ne Te Pardonnerai Pas’ is also great and edgy.

Les Gypsys also had a fabulous image to go with their Parisian cool and donned shaggy haircuts, white roll neck jumpers, black jeans and beatle boots. No wonder the French girls went crazy for them.

I’ve recently been in contact with Les Gypsys bass player, vocalist and songwriter Jean-Pierre Hipken and he has supplied me with the photographs posted with this blog entry. He also provided the details that make up Les Gypsys story.

Les Gypsys were one of the leading groups of the beat scene in Paris during 1966-68. They were:

Jacky Pujol (rhythm guitar)
Jean-Pierre Hipken(bass)
Serge Doudou (lead guitar)
Gerard Fetting (drums)

Early 1966:
The leader of Les Gypsys was 18 year old Jacky Pujol who had been playing guitar since his early teens. He was keen to form a rock group and had already recruited friends Serge Doudou (22 years old) and Gerard Fetting (23 years old) They were on the look out for a bass player and 19 year old Jean-Pierre had become acquainted with their circle of friends and had long hair so was asked to join Les Gypsys on bass guitar. He had impressed the other three with a rendition of ’Long Tall Sally’ at an informal trial.

The four piece then secured their first gig at a small club in Paris called The Ivry Sur Seine. This gig went well with the French kids but the band themselves decided that they needed to tighten up and rehearse solidly before looking for any more gigs. So they practiced for two months during June/July

1966 at Jacky Puyol’s parents’ barn in Dordoyne.

When they were super tight they went out looking for gigs and secured some at The Moulin de Montignac and The Roxanne. These gigs paid well and Les Gypsys were well received.

Back in Paris, Les Gypsys entered a ’Battle Of The Bands’ competition in September 1966 at a venue called The Golf Drouot. They won, which gave the band great confidence and the belief to turn professional which they did in October 1966.

They were able to rehearse every day on a full time basis in the basement of the local Youth Centre. The group became one of the best in Paris with every show packed with screaming girls. At this point their shows became very wild and intense. Their reputation grew which meant many more well paid gigs throughout France. Jean-Pierre mentioned that the best paying gigs were at private parties for rich Counts and Baronesses.

During their brief two year existence they played over 150 gigs a year and supported many of the leading groups including Les SunlightsMichel PolnareffJohnny HallidayLes JetsLes ShinsRod StewartVince Taylor and The Pretty Things.

Les Gypsys recorded both sides of their only single at Loulou Gaste Studios in Paris. The band played live then the results were mixed and released by Relax Iramac with little or no promotion.

500 singles were made and they sold them all at gigs.
Les Gypsys had other songs to release and Jean-Pierre confirmed with me that he had several titles ready to record for future releases but sadly their record company went bust.

The French student riots of 1968 virtually ended the live music scene in Paris for several months and many things had changed. Jacky Pujol and Gerard Fetting decided to leave the band around this time but the band carried on with replacements until late 1970 but changed their name to Quo Vadis. By now their music had adopted a hard rock heavy style. No further recordings were made.

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