September 19, 2021

“I disappear like Greta Garbo”

His house in the woods is nestled at the end of the Blancs-Bouleaux estate, a sort of gated community (secure residence for wealthy Americans) in the French style, located about twenty kilometers south of Orleans. By itself, the name of the place evokes one of those romantic-surrealist songs that he could have written. The building is more imposing than charming. On the ground floor, the bay windows of a large living room open onto a wooded park. Sometimes does and deer linger there. “There are also squirrels, but they are less easy to distinguish”, explains the master of the house. There is something a little sad and stiff about this setting where the reflection of singer William Sheller seems to flee.

No narcissistic trace can be found in the forty-five years of a singer’s career on the porous frontiers of rock’n’roll, contemporary music and pop. Besides, he said, “I hate that we talk about the singer William Sheller, I am first and foremost a composer”. No gold or platinum records framed on the walls, concert posters, Victoires de la Musique. No spiral notebook. Chopper (with or without gasoline). Nothing, nada!

In the work piece, flat on a desk, a score by Yves Margat, author of a composition treatise and mentor to the artist when, at the age of 15, he promised himself to study music. Drawings by Druillet, an original by Cocteau and, in the library, the complete works of Colette, correspondence from Francis Poulenc, around thirty volumes of “La Pléiade”, old 33-rpm records with thick cardboard sleeves. The piano is only used to give the the since its owner has sworn not to play any more, not to make his voice heard.


It was in the winter of 2016, after receiving a Victory of Honor. Bloated with cortisone, tired from heart problems, he decides to hang up. It weighs 100 kg. His heart bounces in his chest like a ping-pong ball. ” Boom Boom “, he said. His doctor ordered him to leave the scene. A few more concerts. Some discomfort and his decision is made: “I’m like Greta Garbo, pfft, finished, finished …” The Swedish actress retired from public life from 1941 until her death in 1990.

He resumed smoking, but quit smoking. He allows himself a glass of martini-tonic from time to time. And too bad if the aperitif falls at 4 pm, like that day. He does not miss the public. “I am not his slave, he gets upset a little. Of course I liked it, but people have the records. “ He hardly listens to the young generation of French song, even those who claim to be him. “I influenced a few of them but that doesn’t mean that I gave them talent. “ Today he is composing a Stabat Mater.

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