Six on Stage has reached a big milestone with 10,000 people connected to the Eurovision Song Contest now listed on the site!
That includes 5,632 people who have performed on the Constest stage at in some capacity as part of a country’s entry, 2,880 songwriters (some of whom performed as well), 833 national spokespeople and 1,765 jurors. There are also 339 conductors – the only number that’s not going to increase any time soon.
With national final season for 2023 now underway, more people will be added to the site in the coming weeks. The 9,999th person I added was Sidorela Kelmendi, one of the newly-selected family group representing Albania alongside Albina Kelmendi in Liverpool.
How do you identify a backing singer when there’s no footage of them performing?
That’s the problem with Luxembourg’s 1964 entry, Dès Que Le Printemps Revient by Hugues Aufray. Most of the Contest is lost, but on the audio you can hear backing singers repeating back lines from the song. There was no indication in other sources that there was anyone on stage with Aufray, but there must have been. These are the only unidentified performers from Eurovision 1964 – so who were they?
My first stop was Hugues Aufray’s skiffle group. You can see them performing a different song together in 1964 here:
Given Aufray had a regular band, it seems likely that at least some of them joined him on stage in Copenhagen in 1964.
The YouTube video description names five members of the group who accompanied him in concert that year: guitarists Tatcho Fantini, Claude Mevel, Freddy Street and Michel Langouet, and double bassist Francis Dunglas.
For some time, I thought this was as far as I would get. But then I saw this new colourisation of a number of photos I hadn’t previously been aware of:
At least we stand a chance of identifying at least one.
Helpfully, the photographer Tony Frank took a range of photos of the group in the 1960s and has put them on his website. Here’s one from 1963 – the guitarist on the left of Frank’s photo appears to be Aufray’s visible musician in the photo above. The names in the caption match those we got from YouTube, although it’s not clear if the order in the caption is a left-to-right match with the band members in the photo.
For a start, we can discount the double bass player. With a bit more research and cross-referencing with different sources, I’m confident that the man we can see on stage in 1964 is Tatcho Fantini.
One down, one to go. Even though we can’t see the other guitarist’s face, we can see one useful clue: he’s playing left-handed. And if you watch the YouTube video above, only one of Aufray’s contemporary group played the guitar that way round. That’s the fifth person in Frank’s photo, smiling at the back.
A bit more cross-referencing with other images and videos and a process of elimination and we can be fairly sure the second guitarist and backing singer, whose face we never see, was Freddy Street.
Rehearsals for the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 are in full swing at the PalaOlimpico in Turin (aka the Pala Alpitour with its sponsorship removed). Thanks to the official Eurovision channels’ photos and video clips, that’s provided lots of opportunity to spot and identify dancers and backing singers and so the 2022 page has been filling up with new information.
I’ve recently added a new “other” role to the site to capture delegation members who’ve been helping behind the scenes, such as creative directors and choreographers. This is particularly of interest where they have been performers themselves – for example, Austria’s vocal coach Monika Ballwein was a backing singer for the country four times between 1997 and 2013, while Sam Ryder’s vocal coach Annabel Williams did backing for James Newman last year.
This information is much more hit and miss which it partly why it has its own category. I’m aiming to add more over time but hopefully what’s already there will be of interest.
Back to this year’s performers, though, and I’m happy to say that the data is pretty complete. I’ve got numbers of performers for every country but it’s possible that some could have extra people that didn’t appear in the official media. Please let me know if you spot an omission.
There are four countries where I know I’m missing credits, so I’d love you to get in touch if you can help fill in the gaps:
Czech Republic: We Are Domi are supported by one unidentified backing singer.
Denmark: Reddi have an unidentified backing singer off stage. Sorted!
Norway: The three masked dancers are unidentified. (Perhaps one day I will be able to update the names of Jim, Keith and DJ Astronaut too.)
United Kingdom: Outside Sam Ryder’s massive light cage are a keyboardist, guitarist and drummer. (As far as I know the people moving the rig are stage hands from the host broadcaster and not part of the permitted six.) Sorted!
Typical that my own country is one of the ones for which I’m lacking information!
Once again, if you know any of the missing names, please drop me an email (ideally with a link to a source) to [email protected]. I will continue to add any new info but I might be slow correcting errors over the next week because I too will be in Turin!