"Since 1995, I had not sung Brassens who is to French song what Bach is to classical music: a landmark", confides to AFP Maxime Le Forestier who paid tribute to him in 2021 in a book, " Brassens and me" (Stock editions).

"In 1963, the same week, I discovered song, guitar and Brassens! It was a real shock that directed my life. I was 14 years old. I bought myself a guitar and scores of Brassens that the merchant had advised me. I did not know Brassens: we were very classical music in the family, "recalls Maxime Le Forestier, soon to be 74 years old.

"I only met the man in 1972, when I started out, behind the scenes at Bobino. The third founding meeting took place when he died... His secretary Pierre Onteniente, nicknamed +Gibraltar+, told me a book. There was everything in it that Georges wanted to see him survive", adds Mr. Le Forestier who, with Renaud, continues to bring to life the timeless work of the author of "Copains d'abord".

"I realized that everything had been written about Brassens, but very little about the composer. This +Soirée Brassens+ tour develops the musical side. With three musicians, including my son Arthur, we designed arrangements closer to the originals" , explains Maxime Le Forestier who, for the first time, abandons his favorite instrument.

"I waited until I was old enough and broke my elbow to finally give up the guitar... I find it's super nice to stop dividing your brain in two!", says- he.

"When it comes to Brassens, the complicity with the public is always there."


On the occasion of his fifty-year career, Maxime Le Forestier has also re-recorded his own songs, including "San Francisco", "Né somewhere" and "Passer ma route", brought together in a double live album entitled "On a fin par find a date.

"I recorded it between when I found out I had cancer and when I started radiation therapy... I thought maybe I wouldn't sing again... So I I wanted to keep a memory...", notes Maxime Le Forestier, in total remission.

Maxime Le Forestier at the Victoires de la Musique, February 14, 2020 in Boulogne-Billancourt, in the Hauts-de-Seine © Alain JOCARD / AFP / Archives

"The interest of the public for fifty years has touched me... It's a privilege: the proof that we continue to understand each other with people...", estimates the singer.

"I'm happy to have lived so far... I love nostalgia when it's sung by Brassens or Souchon, but it's a feeling I don't like to feel... There's regret in nostalgia... It's a bit antagonistic with the song which is a factory of nostalgia. Each one has its own contradictions...", laughs Maxime Le Forestier who "would never have imagined" having such a career.

At 16, expelled from high school for indiscipline, he took his first steps in duet with his sister Catherine.

Moustaki, with whom they become friends, gave them a few songs including "Ma Liberté", before Serge Reggiani took it over.

Maxime Le Forestier, February 14, 2020 during the 35th Victoires de la Musique in Boulogne-Billancourt, in the suburbs of Paris © Alain JOCARD / AFP/Archives

Recently, Maxime Le Forestier joined the label "Tôt ou tard" which offers him "unexpected freedom": "my contract at Universal was finished, without any offer to continue... Many majors, in the hands of financiers, do not even seek not to make good records, only to raise the stock market. My new label considers artists!".

© 2023 AFP