Tormented childhood, death of his fiancée, hidden son: return to the secrets of singer Serge Lama

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On November 5, 2020, journalist Lomig Guillo published a biography devoted to singer Serge Lama with Prisma editions. Living to sing traces for the first time the artist’s incredible life journey. A first of its kind since until now, only a few collections of his life had been published.

“He’s someone who has a very rich, long and fulfilled career. There was a biography that was done in the early 70s, but that’s it. I’m also interested in stories that have relief and he not only has a very rich life, but also a discrepancy between the image that is and that he would like us to perceive”, he explained to us. Although Serge Lama did not participate in the writing of this biography, the journalist has carried out, over the pages, a real work of investigator on the aspects of his private and professional life.

We therefore learn very quickly that Serge Lama, whose real name is Serge Chauvier, is a child almost traumatized by the failure of his father, an operetta singer nicknamed “The Prince Charming of Song”. The latter, who decides to leave Bordeaux with his family to try his luck in the capital, quickly sees his dream of becoming a singer reduced to nothing. Pushed by his wife Georgette, he makes the decision to stop singing in order to find a job that brings in more money. An injustice experienced by the young Serge.

“The first time he saw his father on stage he must have been five years old and it made him want to go on stage. When his father was forced to stop singing because his mother was jealous and it was not a stable enough job, it multiplied his desire to sing to avenge his father and succeed where his father had failed. It was a motivation that pushed him until he was around 30 years old. he was 30 years old, that success came in a very strong way, there he took advantage of this success and worked for himself”, explained Lomig Guillo.

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During his schooling, Serge Lama had a romantic relationship with his English teacher. A high school student at the time, the budding young poet fell under her spell. “I hated English and, ironically, it was my English teacher who taught me love. She was in her forties and I was madly in love with her perfume, her bracelets. So I did everything to seduce her”, he said in 1979 in the magazine OK!

But their love story ends some time later, before the summer holidays, explains the biographer. “Today it would seem more problematic. At the time, we are in the 50s… It would almost be a scandal these days”, says Lomig Guillo.

A heartbreak that will not prevent him from finding his rare pearl a few years later in the person of Liliane Benelli. Unfortunately for him, at each prosperous moment of his life, a tragic event comes to cling to it.

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While Serge Lama is just beginning his career as a singer, he is the victim of a real tragedy that will mark him for life. On August 12, 1965, he left with a troupe of singers to tour the four corners of France. Accompanied by fiancée, the pianist Liliane Benelli and the driver, Jean-Claude Ghrenassia, the brother of Enrico Macias, they are victims of a terrible car accident. His fiancée died instantly while the driver, who had only had his driving license for a fortnight, succumbed to his injuries a few hours later.

“It’s really a fracture in his life from every point of view. He was launched in his career and that stopped him suddenly. He was launched in his life as a man with this love and that also broken. Throughout his life, he was brought back to this accident. It is what gave him his particular gait. It also shows the strength of the character. While he was totally broken by this accident, he managed to get back on stage and pursue his dream of doing L’Olympia”, explains the biographer.

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Throughout his career as a singer, Serge Lama had several love affairs, one of which ended in divorce. After the death of his fiancée Liliane Benelli, he finds love again with a press secretary named Daisy Brun. The couple passed the ring on December 16, 1968.

But Serge Lama is an artist who loves women. At the end of the 60s, the interpreter of I am sick met a certain Michèle Annie Potier, aged 25, who then worked at Club Med. The two lovers maintain a hidden relationship before the latter, who is already the mother of a child, decides to leave the singer to continue her life with her husband. It wasn’t until much later that she would return to stardom after divorcing her husband.

Reunited again, although Serge Lama has not officially divorced Daisy Brun, they are living a romantic relationship for the second time. Small particularity, everyone lives at home. A rule imposed by the singer to his companion.

One day, Michèle Potier becomes pregnant. Their child, Frédéric, was born on September 23, 1981. But the artist decided not to tell anyone about it. Neither to his friends nor to the media. Thus, for two years, Michèle lived almost isolated in Corsica in order to keep Frédéric’s birth hidden. The birth of the latter will not be revealed until May 9, 1983 when the singer agrees to make the front page of VSD. The magazine will write: “Lama had a well-hidden secret for twenty months, the child he had had from Michèle, his companion. Here is his son, Frédéric”.

“He often said that he had not been a very present father. He was on tour a lot but today things are going, a priori, rather well with his son. He is also a grandfather”, explains Lomig Guillo. Subsequently, he will finally divorce Daisy Brun and marry his companion Michèle in June 1991. The latter will die on October 25, 2016 following a stroke.

Since February 2021, Serge Lama has been married to his partner, Luana Santonino. Younger than the latter, she is also his assistant and manager. In an interview granted to Audrey Crespo-Mara in the program Seven to eight, the artist had mentioned his couple. “She is my one and last love, who is built on solid foundations,” he began and continued, “I wonder every day what life I’m giving her. I thought to myself, ‘But you are selfish. This girl is young, and then you’re going to hurt her when you disappear, etc. She was stronger than me and she convinced me to stay by her side. I can see in her eyes that she is happy with me”.

In an interview with Télé Star on December 5, 2022, singer Serge Lama agreed to confide in his private life. The interpreter of I am sick notably returned to his relationship to his body, which he did not like when young.

In the process, he affirmed: “I have been lucky during my sexual and love life”, he declared to our colleagues and to continue: “Suzanne Gabriello, who was Brel’s mistress, taught me about sex,” he explained. The latter, who died on August 9, 1992 at the age of 60, had met with success thanks to her comedic songs.