Gilles Bertin and René Vignal: unforgettable parallel stories
Toulouse, 26th April 1988. Disguised as Carabinieri, an unlikely team of rogues made up of punks, anarchists and addicts robs BRINK’S bank vault. The amount stolen is of 11.7 million Francs, something that would be around 7 or 8 million euros today. All of this without firing a gun! Most of the people in the hit will be arrested and convicted except for GILLES BERTIN, the singer of CAMERA SILENS, a quintessential punk-oi! French band from the early 80’s. Spain, Portugal, a ride that would last 30 years…
Barcelona, 18th November 2016. After having hug his partner Cecilia and his 5 years-old son, GILLES BERTIN leaves his Barcelona home at dawn. He heads for Toulouse where his lawyer is waiting for him. He decided to turn himself in.
GILLES BERTIN was born in 1961. He passed a couple of months ago. He is the distinctive voice of CAMERA SILENS (“Réalité”, “Pour la Gloire” are some of the most well-known songs by the band) one of the first bands to be part of the LES HEROS DU PEUPLE SONT IMMORTELS compilation.
In a sort of way GILLES’ story reminds me of that of the goalkeeper of Racing Paris and the French National football team from 1940-1955 René VIGNAL. He died in poverty and indifference in 2016, committed 27 robberies. He was the kind of goalkeeper that would box with the ball, punching it back with direct hooks and uppercuts as if he had been fighting on the ring. René was from Toulouse as well, more precisely from Béziers, the French capital of football.
Deep down both Gilles and René were two real kamikazes. They knew the danger they were facing. Both tallied up a lot of wounds and fractures (a triple forearm fracture for the goalkeeper and the illness that took Gilles). Both hated authoritarianisms, subscribed to the lost occasions festivals (the war sabotaged Vignal’s career and Gilles’ run from the law impacted CAMERA SILENS). One spent 10 years in jail (René) while the other one managed to escape it because of his departure.
If this piqued your curiosity, “throw” away some of your time to “TRENTE ANS DE CAVALE – Ma vie de punk” by GILLES BERTIN and to the website
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