Self-taught on the piano he gained a taste for the industry as a teenager playing in the bar his parents subsequently ran, opposite the Gare de Lyon, where he befriended Louis De Funès. He also attended concerts by Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt and played in his first nightspot at Le Club before the onset of war. After the liberation of France he changed his name to the American-influenced 'Eddie Barclay' and in 1945 was briefly married to Michèle Barraud. His taste in jazz and knowledge of café society held him in good stead when he opened his first discothèque The Barclay in 1947, also forming a jazz group with his second wife Nicole Vandenbusche (aka Eve Williams) as vocalist. He and Nicole later formed their first label, Blue Star, featuring artists such as Eddie Constantine and Don Byas initially on 78 rpm issues, which they ran from their home. The couple later founded Jazz Magazine with editor Boris Vian and their work featured in the Blue Star series House Of Jazz (2). By 1955 Barclay had gained sound knowledge of LP and 45rpm production techniques after a trip to America, returning with a contract to distribute Mercury in Europe.
It was from this point in the late 50s that Barclay's reputation in French-issue jazz recordings was founded. He released many discs in the new 'microgroove' format via Pathé Marconi's studio which became Studio Pathé Marconi EMI and pressing plant at Pathé Marconi, Chatou. Apart from manufacturing & distributing artists from other labels he also hired Gerhard Lehner to record them for the Barclay label. The roster of artists was vast. From Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, Sammy Davis Jr. and Duke Ellington to the likes of Mireille Mathieu, Dalida and Jean Ferrat. He lured Juliette Gréco and Jaques Brel from Philips and also signed Léo Ferré and Charles Aznavour, among many other renowned French artistes. He also transcribed jazz recordings, co-wrote and also scored soundtracks for a number of films.
The Barclay trademark of opulence was his passion for the white suit, his ever-expanding house and estate in Saint-Tropez - a location to which he had been introduced by Bridget Bardot - and his lavish celebrity parties which were the stuff of legend and as much a benefit for the paparazzi as for the guests. Following treatment for throat cancer in 1979 he sold 80% of his Company to PolyGram. His wives were Michèle, Nicole (to whom he was married for 14 years), Marie-Christine Steinberg (By whom he had a son Guillaume), Béatrice (Subsequently the wife of Guy Marchand), Michele, Daniele, Cathy, Caroline (to whom he was married for 11 years) and his last wife Tiare, whom he married in 2002 on the Tahitian island of Moʻorea. Barclay published his autobiography in 1988. After quadruple heart-bypass surgery in 1994 he suffered a number of infections in April 2005 and was admitted to Hôpital Ambroise Paré, Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris, where he subsequently died.
Born: 26th January 1921, Paris, France.
Died: 13th May 2005, Boulogne-Billancourt, France.