Space. A brief history of the electronic band whose hit Magic Fly is known to everyone

George Palladev 21.09.2020

Space. A brief history of the electronic band whose hit Magic Fly is known to everyone

A Frenchman from the Principality of Monaco, Didier Marouani received a classical music education and before entering the electronic hall of fame, he sang on solo records about love. He was interested in synthesisers, listened to the works of the inventor of noise music Pierre Schaeffer and wrote various music to order. Once, the French TV launched a show about space and the 24-year-old Marouani was invited to record the opening theme. He wrote Magic Fly, a track that made him famous but that wasn’t approved by the label’s management for inclusion on the record. (Yes, the song is good, but not our format.) Together with Jean-Philippe Iliesco de Grimaldi, who supplied the order for Magic Fly, they came from another side. Without breaking the contract with the first label, they sold the track to another company and formed the Space band. Didier signed the tracks with the name Ecama (so as not to give himself away), and the producer was responsible for the promotion of the group while remaining in the shadows.

For a whole year, Space, consisting of four people, performed in silver spacesuits with their faces covered with helmets. Their single Magic Fly became No. 1 in 15 countries while their first two albums, both released in 1977, were eagerly bought up by fans of accessible electronic music, which suddenly turned out to be melodic. The alien costumes, which were well suited to the theme, served one purpose more: no one from the first label should have known that Marouani had a side hustle. “We were performing always during 1 year with our space suits, I asked my record company to give me back my contract as singer and after that I announce to the medias that I create and compose the band”, recalled Didier.

Check the best of Space

The first concept album, in addition to a deliberately cosmic theme, flirts with funky soul music. Marouani didn’t pretend that Carry On, Turn Me On wasn’t recorded for the American market, where the song was released as a separate record, and later became a hit in black clubs in the United States. This continued on the next Space albums with less music and more vocals. The band was losing its cosmic charm and openly drifted towards ordinary pop music.

It all ended very quickly. After three albums, in 1978, Marouani decided to give a big concert near the Eiffel Tower. He received official permission from the authorities and began to actively advertise the upcoming live show. But a month before the scheduled date, the band’s producer intervened and cancelled the concert. It was scandalous and embarrassing. Didier wanted to fire the producer, but it turned out that the cunning Jean-Philippe had trademarked Space himself and the founder could do only one thing—leave.

Jean-Philippe Iliesco de Grimaldi on the left, Didier Marouani on the right. 1970s.

The last album, Deeper Zone, was recorded in 1980 with fewer members, without Didier. It turned into a mix of American funk à la Gloria Gaynor with British prog-rock à la Pink Floyd. Only 20 years later, after long trials and altercations, Marouani took back the right to publish and perform under the name Space. It’s worth mentioning that neither before winning the suit, nor after was Marouani able to release anything interesting. Even Paris France Transit band, founded straight after, didn’t come close to the hits and tunes of the first Space album. In fact, it only went further away from them. Not to mention the next records.