Lizzy Mercier Descloux died in obscurity in April 2004, 20 years after what was ostensibly her musical heyday. A Lyon-born art school dropout and devotee of Rimbaud and Godard, she was every bit the romantic French archetype, as well as an innovator and witness to numerous pivotal moments in musical and cultural history.
She saw Patti Smith and Television at CBGBs and Basquiat at the Kitchen. She recorded at Compass Point Studios in Nassau while Grace Jones made Nightclubbing next door. She collaborated with Soweto musicians in apartheid-era South Africa years before Graceland. She persuaded Chet Baker to play trumpet on her penultimate album, which turned out to be one of his final recordings. Though expert archivists Light in the Attic recently reissued her discography, she has mostly remained a footnote to other people’s careers.