Jean-Louis Maisin, 72, fiercely independent and transformist record store

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(AFP) – At 72 years old, Jean-Louis Maisin, remains a fiercely independent record store, great fan of Dalida that he broadcasts every day in his small boutique in Chambéry and that he embodies in his transformist shows.

“My dream, this would be to die here “, launches with a smile the last independent record store of Savoy, which with its thousands of vinyls, CDs and audio cassettes, resisted everything, with the arrival of the big names, the crisis of the disc, then that related to the Covid pandemic – 19.

The music is his passion from an early age. Dalida, always by his side.

Very little, he discovers a 45 of the singer of Egyptian origin that her father owns, among others. Then, “with each good grade at school”, her grandmothers offer her a little money. The good student takes the opportunity to discover the discography of the “Callas of varieties”. He also created a small musical duo with a childhood friend, offering concerts to neighbors in the neighborhood.

“We were called Les Hirondelles”, he remembers, always with a smile. He prides himself on having seen Dalida “more than 150 in concert” in Chambéry, at the Olympia in Paris and elsewhere in France.

His diligence allows him to enter the small circle of his idol: he enters the dressing rooms and succeeds in meeting the singer who, seduced by his enthusiasm, will then invite him regularly at her concerts.

He knows her so well, her gestures, her shows, the words of her songs … he becomes “her” for the time of his own show , in his dresses, make-up, hair, in front of a microphone.

– “The right to love” – ​​

“The first time was twelve years ago, for my husband’s fifty years”,

For this anniversary, he also sings Piaf, “in front of 140 people “, he chooses” The right to love “. “It fits our story well,” he said fondly.

Since then, this little bald man of discreet appearance has given 23 shows transformed into Dalida, 18 into Edith Piaf . He is “transformist and not transvestite”, he insists. where it happened. I saw in you the Môme Piaf “. At the evocation of this memory, his usual smile gives way to a misty gaze.

For the moment, the record store has suspended its transformist shows because of lack of exercise during the confinements he “grew too fat and can no longer put on his dresses”.

In her store, Dalida still sings “every day”. He is afraid of boring his clients, young and old, but rejoices when he is ordered to order one of his albums.

When he left school at 13 years, he had four jobs in mind: “musician, or rather working in music, hairdresser for women, pharmacy preparer or undertaker “.

Chance opens the doors to a store selling pianos, in 1971. There is a small disc department there that he decides to develop “without asking for permission” from his boss.

The experience is conclusive. In June 1980, the store is sold, he buys it with the help of his parents, gives up the pianos and devotes himself to records. “Free Music” was born.

“For the name, we had a little contest and asked customers for their opinion”, he says.

The winner of the competition was a student at the time, he became a musician, he is still a customer: “Jean-Louis is where he should be in his store, open and endearing”, explains Didier Venturini, 45 years.

Jean-Louis Maisin would like his death to be the occasion of a party, he wishes happy faces, in the street, in front of his window. “To die without the slightest sorrow / Of a well orchestrated death / Me, I want to die on stage / This is where I was born”, sang Dalida.

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