Serge Gainsbourg, the bad boy of French pop, was a sex pest and “the Weinstein of French music,” according to Lio, a Belgian-Portuguese singer who recorded several hits with him.
Lio let rip this week at the singer-songwriter who made drunken advances to a young Whitney Houston on live television and recorded a song called Lemon Incest with his 13-year-old daughter.
Famous during his lifetime for his appetite for alcohol, cigarettes and women, Lio has now described him as “a harasser, quite simply, someone not at all cool with girls and who was a Weinstein of music, in a certain way.”
Speaking in an Arte Radio podcast, she said: “Gainsbourg has become an aristocrat of French music, but I’m not necessarily going to honour him. I experienced his more than specious behaviour towards young women close up.”
Lio criticised Gainsbourg over a song he wrote for the young singer France Gall in 1966 called Lollipops (Les Sucettes). Gall, who was 18 when she recorded it, said she had not understood the song’s sexual innuendo.
Lio said: “France Gall was clearly abused by adults without respect. It was a rape, she perceived it like that, and it’s legitimate. And that her fellow-artists laughed about it, that is unacceptable for me.”
In 2015, three years before her death, France Gall described Gainsbourg as “a fat pig”. After releasing the song, she said she felt humiliated and the song had “changed her relations with boys”.
Gainsbourg, who died of a heart attack in 1991 aged 62, is best known in the English-speaking world for his song “Je t’aime… moi non plus”.
A duet with his British girlfriend Jane Birkin, it featured sexually explicit lyrics and simulated sounds of female orgasm.
He originally wrote it for his former partner, Brigitte Bardot. Gainsbourg fondled Catherine Deneuve while performing a song entitled “God is a smoker of Havanas” with the actress during another drunken television appearance.
He insulted Catherine Ringer, a well-known singer who had appeared in pornographic films, calling her “a filthy whore” when they appeared together on a television talk show.
Gainsbourg was never accused of rape or sexual assault, unlike the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who was convicted on both counts in February.
Lio, who worked with him in the 1980s, did not name any of his alleged victims. She acknowledged that she found the songs he wrote for women “interesting” at the time.
Charlotte Gainsbourg, 49, his daughter by Jane Birkin, told the Guardian last year that today, “my father would be condemned in every move he made. Everything now is so politically correct. So boring. So expected.”
After she made her musical debut alongside him with Lemon Incest in 1984, he was forced to deny accusations of paedophilia, but was never prosecuted over the song.