Martine-Elisabeth "Lizzy" Mercier Descloux (16 December 1956 - 20 April 2004) was a French musician, singer-songwriter, composer, actress, writer and painter.
She grew up in Lyon, but returned to her native Paris in her teens to attend art school. With her partner, Michel Esteban, she helped establish the store Harry Cover, temple of the punk movement in France, and the new wave magazine Rock News. She struck up friendships with Patti Smith and Richard Hell when visiting New York in 1975, and both contributed material to her first book, Desiderata. She and Esteban moved to New York in 1977, meeting Michael Zilkha, with whom Esteban formed ZE Records.
With guitarist D.J. Barnes (Didier Esteban), Mercier Descloux formed the performance art duo Rosa Yemen, and recorded an eponymous mini-album for ZE Records in 1978. The following year, ZE released her solo debut LP, Press Color. Self-taught as a guitarist, she revealed herself as a supreme minimalist within the No Wave genre, concentrating on spindly, single-note lines combined with wrong-note harmonies and funky rhythms. Although the record had poor sales, she toured in the USA and Europe.
Island Records boss Chris Blackwell bankrolled the sessions in the Bahamas for her second album, Mambo Nassau, with Compass Point All Stars engineer Steven Stanley and keyboardist Wally Badarou co-writing and producing. The album was heavily influenced by African music as well as art rock, funk and soul. Although again unsuccessful in the USA, it won her a contract with CBS in France.
Returning to France, she released two singles before travelling through Africa, drawing on the music of Soweto for the infectious "Mais où Sont Passées les Gazelles?" ('But where have the gazelles gone?'), a hit in France in 1984, and the award-winning album Zulu Rock, with producer Adam Kidron, with whom she then recorded the albums One for the Soul (1986) in Brazil with the jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, and Suspense (1988) in London with the British musician Mark Cunningham of Mars. She also acted, composed film scores, and wrote poetry.
In the mid 1990s, she moved to Corsica and devoted herself to painting and to writing an unpublished novel. In 2003, she was diagnosed with cancer, from which she died the following year. Fellow No Wave musician and ZE labelmate Cristina dedicated a song on the 2004 re-release of her album Sleep It Off to Mercier Descloux, "chère copine in adversity ... In loving memory of her talent, her courage, and her kindness".
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