Paris (AFP)

They are friends, both American rock singers and share many similarities: same age, same New York suburban origins, same literary vein.

But Bruce Springsteen has become a star and Elliott Murphy, now Parisian, has only brushed against fame.

When the Boss fills the stadiums, Elliott Murphy is content to sell out a full house at New Morning.

Springsteen has not forgotten, however: every time he goes to Paris, he invites her to join him on stage.

"There is a brother-in-arms aspect between them," said François Gorin, journalist at Télérama.

"I was at one of the first concerts in New York (from Springsteen: editor's note), January 31, 1973, at Max's Kansas City. There were maybe fifty people," recalls Elliott Murphy, who published at the end of 2020 his Memoirs entitled "Just a story from America" ​​(éditions Du Layeur), like his fourth album published in 1977.

1973: the year when these two singers - then both qualified by the critics of "new Dylan" - publish their first album, at 24 years old.

This anecdote appears in the Memoirs of Elliott Murphy, which teems with these "mid-seventies" during which he was a privileged actor of rock'n roll in New York City.

- Mick Jagger as neighbor -

He then becomes the friend of Lou Reed, a native of Long Island like him, frequents the New York Dolls, Patti Smith, meets John Lennon, meets David Bowie ...

"When I lived on 72nd Street, next to 2nd Avenue, right in front of me lived Mick Jagger for two years," he told AFP.

The writing qualities of this F. Scott Fitzgerald lover are noted: in 1974 he signed the lyrics for the album cover "1969: The Velvet Underground Live".

"Elliott Murphy is a genre in itself, a songwriter very inspired by literature, with very rich writing, and a writer. His book + Marty May + (published in 2013, editor's note), the story of a musician which misses success and recognition, is a very beautiful novel ", underlines the host and rock specialist, Antoine De Caunes.

This period when he built himself as a musician provided the essential material for his Memoirs.

"The beginnings of a career are the most interesting because my life changes a lot, right away, after my first record," says Elliott Murphy, still elegant at 71, cultivating this image of a dandy, half rock-half. romantic, wearing a hat over the bandana that holds back her long hair.

- "Like the messiah" -

"Before that, I was anonymous, completely. But within six months, I got my picture in Newsweek, on posters in the New York subway," he recalls, nostalgic but not bitter.

He thanks a father who died too soon for having "always opened the door to freedom for him to become an artist".

But his first record "Aquashow", however favorably received by critics, did not land the hit.

The majors will nevertheless continue to support it.

In vain: success, if not esteem, escapes him.

After "four remarkable albums" according to François Gorin, Elliott Murphy will disappear from the front of the stage.

"The more time passes, the more he realizes that this was his golden age and especially the moment when it almost worked. But only failed", explains François Gorin.

"Unlike a Springsteen who cut his veins and who was a hard working man + (a very hard worker: editor's note), a real beast of the stage".

After a few "difficult" years, Elliott Murphy will rebound in Europe, where he has a loyal following.

The literary rocker has lived since 1991 in Paris, near the Grand Rex, with his wife Françoise and their son, Gaspard, who has become his producer.

"The first time he came to Paris for a concert at the Palace, in 1979, he was expected like the messiah", recalls François Gorin.

This artist continues to perfect his repertoire there, between sophistication and rock energy.

“Elliott's strength is that he's always been true to himself. And someone who always does the same song ends up making it a perfect song,” says Antoine De Caunes.

© 2021 AFP