Died 30 years ago and only 44 years old, Michel Berger left an indelible mark on the French musical landscape. Yet the tragedy could have been easily avoided…
His songs are cult, his lyrics are known to all French people and he is behind some of the most popular songs of French music. 30 years after his death, which took place on August 2, 1992, Michel Berger remains a musical icon, an accomplished artist whose talent could have continued to flourish and touch all those around him if there had not been not had this tragic afternoon in Ramatuelle.
How did Michel Berger die?
Ce August 2 fateful day , Michel Berger is with his wife, France Gall, in the south of France in the Var, in his property of Ramatuelle. He has just played a game of tennis on a sunny field against Marie-François Holtz, the companion of journalist Gérard Holtz. Once the game is over, the singer-songwriter returns to the cool and shady place in his house, where he will be struck down by a heart attack who forever deprives France Gall of her husband, and her children Pauline and Raphaël of their father. He was only 44 years old. When the firefighters and emergency services, quickly called, arrived on the spot, Michel Berger was already dead and no resuscitation or cardiac massage technique could have brought him back to life. According to Purepeople, that’s when the emergency services will say to France Gall the terrible sentence that everyone dreads to hear: “We’re sorry, there’s nothing more we can do“.
Why could his death have been avoided?
The tragic circumstances of Michel Berger’s death are not not always told in detail, yet it seems clear that with a little more prevention, the composer could have survived his heart attack. The first thing to know is that at the time of his death, Michel Berger was very anxious, busy with several important projects. First there was the English adaptation of Starmania, but also the album recorded in duet with his wife France Gall, and about which the disputes were numerous. On the personal side, the family was inevitably worried since the diagnosis of their daughter Pauline, suffering from cystic fibrosis. But the holidays were there to relax him and allow him to have a good time with his friends, the journalist couple Holtz, but also his neighbor, Claude-Michel Schönberg.
Unfortunately, the rest will have been short-lived, in particular because of the pain felt by Michel Berger in the chest. Gala explains that it was during the game of tennis that the singer began to suffer but, not wanting to worry his wife, he did not mention it to France Gall and contented himself with interrupting the tennis game and going back upstairs to the house. The hours pass and while he takes a bath, Michel Berger again feels these strong pains in the chest, powerful enough to convince him to speak to France Gall, who hastens to call the doctor. Lying on his bed, the composer of Starmania explains to the doctor: “It squeezed my chest, I don’t want to suffer like that again”. The doctor in turn summons the Samu, who unfortunately arrives too late.
Would Michel Berger have died if he had mentioned his chest pains from the start, while he was playing tennis with his friends? This is a question that we will never have the answer to, but it is possible that it is also a question that France Gall asked herself years after the death of her husband. Indeed, if he had warned her earlier, the singer could have called for help earlier and thus greatly improved Michel Berger’s chances of survival. Prompt management is a major factor in the treatment of cardiac arrests and could have been decisive. Unfortunately, things did not turn out that way, and the heart problems the singer suffered from might have got the better of him sooner or later. At France Sunday, his press officer Grégoire Colard explains that Michel Berger suffered from cholesterol problems and did not think he would die old. An intuition that turned out to be true on this famous August 2, 1992.