The musical achievements of the French rock band “Noir Desir”, which rose to prominence in the 1980s, have been overshadowed by the echoes of the murder committed by the band’s singer, Bertrand Cantat, in Vilnius.
The road to the stars
Bertrand Cantat, the son of a military man and a former primary school teacher, was born on 5th March 1964, and lived in Pau with his brother Xavier and sister Ann, before moving to Bordeaux.
Bertrand, who wrote the lyrics, became friends at school with Serge Teyssot-Gay, a 17-year-old guitarist, and decided to form a band because of their shared love of bands such as “Led Zeppelin” and “The Who”. Bertrand Cantat chose to be the vocalist and Serge Teyssot-Gay the guitarist. Then they met Denis Barthe (on drums) and Frédéric Vidalenc (on bass guitar) and started performing locally. 1980-1985 can be considered the formative period of “Noir Desir”, the name of which gradually changed from “Psychoz” to “Noirs Desirs”.
As the band searches for a record label to sign them, “Noirs Desirs” abandons the plural form of the names of rock bands from the 70s and 80s, and with their mini-album “Où veux tu qu’je r’garde?” became a success and secured a place on “Barclay Records”. In 1989, the band achieved its greatest success with the album “Veuillez rendre l’âme (à qui elle appartient)”, which was hailed as one of the best French rock albums ever made. Bertrand Cantat, often referred to as the French Jim Morrison, and his band became one of the most important figures in French music history with the albums “Aux sombres héros de l’amer” (1989), “Du ciment sous les plaines” (1991), “Tostaky” (1992) and “Dies irae” (1994).
The 1990s and disasters.
The band performed at full volume and attracted international attention, but things started to change in the 1990s: after a concert in Besançon in 1991, Cantat and the band were unable to continue their tour due to health problems, and in 1994 the vocalist had to undergo surgery on his vocal cords. The band took a break and Frédéric Vidalenc left the band to pursue his personal projects. In the 1990s, the vocalist’s meeting with the women of his life was also a defining moment in the band’s destiny.
Vocalist’s first marriage and relationship with Marie Trintignant
In 1993 Cantat met his future wife Christina Rady, whom he married in 1997. Cantat had two children with her: a son in 1998 and a daughter in 2002. In 2002, through his sister, the singer meets Marie Trintignant, a famous French actress, with whom he begins an affair one month after the birth of his daughter. According to him, Christine was depressed after giving birth and he tried to take care of the children as best he could.
Bertrand left his first wife, Christine Rady, to live with Marie Trintignant, and in 2003 officially divorced her. Marie Trintignant was a famous French actress who had four children from her previous marriages, three of whom were cared for by her ex-husband. Both Marie and Bertran were very emotional and jealous people who did not want the other to have any contact with their ex-spouses, which eventually led to the tragedy that occurred in Vilnius on the 26th of July 2003, after a party, when the actress was beaten up and slipped into a coma, from which she did not recover.
Murder of Marie Trintignant
Marie and her family came to Lithuania for the filming of the TV series “Colette”. Her husband Cantat accompanied her and watched her on the set. According to film producer R. Urbonas, “They walked holding their hands. Everything seemed very nice”, but everything changed after one party, during which they had too much alcohol. Marie showed Cantat a text message from her ex-husband. The tragedy took place at one of the hotels in Vilnius. He saw her ex’s tender words to her – “Thank you, my dear Janis” – which had been concealed before. The singer was then furious at the unequal conditions – they had both agreed not to be friendly with their exes. He claimed that he “did not recognize Marie”, that she was “malicious” and that her words were “abusive”. Finally, in a fit of rage, Cantat became violent and beat Marie to the point where she ended up in a coma. In the morning, an ambulance was called for the beaten actress, but she did not survive due to severe head injuries.
In court, Cantat was faithfully and without condemnation supported by his ex-wife, Kristina Rady, who said that she had never experienced violence in her relationship with the singer. The singer said in court that he thought she was just sleeping, so when he realized that she was breathing, he simply put her to bed. Cantat was convicted in court of “intentional violence resulting in death without intent to kill” and “failure to render aid to a person in danger” for 8 years, but his good behavior led to his early parole in 2007. In July 2010, Cantat’s parole conditions ended and he became free again.
Life after sentence
After Marie’s death, he was in a difficult psychological state, had to take antidepressants, and, according to his lawyer, said he wanted to commit suicide. He eventually sought professional psychological help and got better, but the blows in his life were not over: in January 2010, his ex-wife and mother of two, K. Rady, who had supported Cantat in court, committed suicide in her home. Of course, the singer was criticized for this, and his influence on his ex-wife’s death was investigated, but no evidence was found.
In 2010, his band “Noir Desir”, which he had been allowed to contribute to during his time in prison, finally split up. Since then, the singer has been working on his music under the radar, his career has been accompanied by feminist outrage and accusations of violence and provocation.