The Story Of Gillian Hills
Since she was discovered in 1958, Gillian Hills was seen as nothing more than a beautiful face, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Brigitte Bardot. She was indeed a real beauty, but there is much more to Gillian Hills than her kittenish good looks.
Born in Cairo, Egypt in 1944, Gillian Hills was pursued by infamous playboy, Roger Vadim, who was by no means a stranger to the world's most beautiful women. While Vadim was primarily a film director, he is remembered mostly for wooing the most gorgeous of starlets- Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, and Jane Fonda to name a few. Gillian Hills was Vadim's latest discovery, and in 1958 he offered her a steamy role in a film called Dangerous Liaisons. Unfortunately for Vadim, Gillian was much too young to sign a contract, and the lead role was given to prominent French actress, Jeanne Moreau. Two years later, a 16-year-old Gillian boarded a plane to London for a starring role in the film Beat Girl, the definitive sixties youth-gone-wild movie. She plays the part of Jennifer, a rich teen with a sour attitude who attends art school in the day, and sneaks out at night to hang with her clique at seedy jazz clubs. Jennifer is the ultimate bad girl; she mouths off to her parents and takes her fascination with stripping a bit too far.
The same year Beat Girl hit theaters, Gillian appeared on the front cover of Paris Match sporting brown hair and a more subdued look- perhaps to escape the endless Bardot comparisons. 1960 also saw the release of Gillian's first single for Barclay Records. Her sultry teasing voice worked perfectly with "Ma Premiere Cigarette." However, 1960 was still a bit early for the approaching yé-yé rage, and her early releases were most often ultra-cute covers of Marilyn Monroe ("Aimons-Nous"), The Shirelles ("En Dansant Le Twist") and Helen Shapiro ("Mon Coeur Est Pret"). In 1963 Gillian joined ill-famed songwriting genius, Serge Gainsbourg for a duet called "Une Tasse D'Anxiete." Although a video was shot with Serge and Gillian flirting in a convertible, the song was never officially released.
After releasing five EPs worth of mostly American cover versions, Gillian began composing her own songs, defying the perception of Gillian as a substandard Brigitte Bardot. "Maintenant Il Telephone," her ultimate yé-yé disc, and the beat-rocker "Oublie" demonstrate Gillian's ability to write in a variety of styles. Among the Lollipops and Zombies covers featured on her last French EP, Gillian's self-penned "Rien N'est Changé" is by far the strongest. It's Gillian Hills attempting Françoise Hardy and succeeding. The track is gentle, with a distinct acoustic guitar sound and delicate vocals. Sadly, even her self-written discs sold close to nothing.
Her last release, strangely enough, was for Vogue Records in England. "Look At Them" was released in 1965 and shares much in common with the folk sound of "Rien N'est Changé." She sings it beautifully, yet even in the land of Beat Girl, the record was a flop.