English actress and singer Jane Birkin is perhaps best known for her romantic and professional relationship with French singer-songwriter and musician Serge Gainsbourg, from 1968 to 1980. They met on the set of the film Slogan (1968), and did not get along well at first. At the time, Birkin was married to film composer John Barry, with whom she had a daughter, Kate. Birkin and Gainsbourg’s relationship eventually blossomed, and they started dating. Birkin became Gainsbourg’s muse, and in 1969, they recorded an album together, Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg, informally known as Je t'aime… moi non plus. The eponymous hit became well known worldwide, and caused great controversy for its suggestive lyrics accompanied by female moaning, and what appears to be an orgasm at the end of the song. The song was initially written for and recorded with Brigitte Bardot, but it is the version with Birkin that made history. Je t'aime… was banned in several countries, such as the United Kingdom, Spain, and Brazil.
Birkin and Gainsbourg went on to work on seven more albums together - Historie de Melody Nelson (1971), Di doo dah (1973), Lolita Go Home (1975), Ex fan des sixties (1978), Baby Alone in Babylone (1983), Lost Song (1987), and Amours des feintes (1990). Their only daughter, Charlotte (born 1971), is an actress and singer. Birkin and Gainsbourg are seen, until this day, as an iconic couple, known for their sexuality. He passed away in 1991, and even though Birkin had other relationships after their split back in the 80s (she had a 10-year relationship with film director Jacques Doillon, father of her youngest daughter, Lou), she explained that none of these relationships ever came close to what she had with Gainsbourg, and that he was the great love of her life as well as her mentor.
“His face was so much more interesting than any other face I’d ever seen, with extraordinarily sad eyes and a beautiful mouth. He read me his poetry, and it was always a play on words. That was such an unusual trait—to be that romantic and funny.” -about Gainsbourg
“With the song ‘Je T'aime Moi Non Plus,’ I did it because I didn’t want anyone else to do it. It was hot stuff and was banned by the pope and the BBC. That was the greatest PR we could have, as Serge used to say. The Guardian said it was the sexiest song in history. I now know when I die what my signature music will be.”
“I’ve never gone into why I left him. He was somebody who drank a vast amount. It started out being funny the first 10 years, and then it got monotonous. After I left him, strangely enough, he wrote the most beautiful and best songs he ever wrote for me. Our friendship went on until his dying day. He rang me in London to say he bought me a big diamond because I had lost one that he’d given me. I said, 'Oh, stop drinking, Serge.’ And a day later, on March 2, 1991, he was dead.” -about the end of her relationship with Gainsbourg
“My mother was right: when you’ve got nothing left, all you can do is get into silk underwear and start reading Proust.”