Born in Thuringia of a French father and a German mother, Albert Raisner arrived in Paris at age 7. His socially modest family lived in Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement of the capital in a 400 square feet apartment. He had two brothers, one older, one younger.
His father, a sales representative and music enthusiast, taught him violin, piano, trumpet, guitar and clarinet early on. Albert Raisner thereby acquired classical musical training; nevertheless, harmonica was his favorite instrument. His first audience was that of the boy scouts of which he was a member. He played during vigils around camp fire. Thereafter, he refined his talent with musician Charles Rodriguez (a gypsy guitarist, violinist, man band and harmonica pioneer in France). Until 1939, he participated in the activities of Studio Rodriguez (officially 'French Association for Musical Expansion') and became known in the entertainment world. He joined legendary gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt on tour. Albert Raisner would also participate in the circus world, with Cirque Pinder, where he learned trapeze.
He studied at Colbert High School before spending a year at Ecole Normale d'Auteuil, both in Paris, and earning a Ph.D. in linguistics. A teenager during the Second World War, he experienced food rationing and the bombing of his street. He joined the Resistance in Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne in Correze in Free France.
During the war, Albert Raisner joined the semi-clandestine jazz underworld and created the Club for Harmonica ('CHARM').
With Sirio Rossi and Adrien Belin, Albert Raisner formed the Trio Raisner, which would become a regular feature of radio and TV programs. The trio was recruited to play during shows for the American Army in Europe. The Trio Raisner earned large-scale success upon D-Day and at Liberation with the American Special Service (an effort to provide entertainment for US-soldiers in Europe) in Frankfurt where he shared scene and airtime with Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Marlene Dietrich, Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington.
Thereafter, the Trio Raisner performed numerous, highly successful shows and tours in France. More than solely musicians, members of the trio were showmen, musical scene pioneers, mixing harmonica, songs, dances and humor. Soon after, the trio toured out of France including in countries such as Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Israel. It was also featured numerous times on international radio channels and in movies. Albert Raisner kept composing his trio's songs, and in 1952 the Trio Raisner received the 'Grand Prix du Disque' (Best Song of the Year award) for 'Le Canari'.
The trio dissolved at the end of the 1950s, and Albert Raisner continued his harmonicist career as a solo artist. He hosted the first part of Chuck Berry's Olympia concert. He also wrote a book, Le Livre de l'Harmonica, in which he retraces the history of the musical instrument, his users, as well as his own history as a musician.
Albert Raisner was among the first hosts of the Jeu des 1000 Francs, one of the longest-running French radio programs.
Albert Raisner created his signature show Age Tendre et Tete de Bois in 1961, which would become a staple of French TV and a legendary program. It was a music show on prime time, Saturday night, on France's unique TV channel, RTF. Even if created with modest means, the show met with immediate, overwhelming success. Shows were filmed at the Golf-Drouot, at the Moulin de la Gallette and at the Cite Universitaire. Albert Raisner became the leading talent discoverer and was among the first to air rock 'n' roll music. An iconic figure of the 'ye-ye' era (1960s), he introduced to France and supported many French, American and international artists including Ray Charles, Gene Vincent, Johnny Hallyday, The Beatles, Sheila, Claude Francois, Henri Salvador, the Beach Boys, Eddy Mitchell, Joan Baez, Dalida, Salvatore Adamo, Michel Polnareff, Stevie Wonder, Gigiola Cinquietti, Enrico Macias, Sylvie Vartan, Francois Hardy and Adriano Celentano. The show was remembered for its jovial, high energy style, its duplexes and mutliplexes with artists around the world, the close proximity between the audience and the stars, and the prohibition of play-back. Albert Raisner also designed the show's mascot, the 'Bonhomme Tete de Bois', to his image.
In 1963, Raisner created a German-French co-production, Rendez-vous sur le Rhin, which will soon evolve to include 7 European countries to be renamed 'Europarty'. He even twice set up a bilateral show in Moscow, aired in France and the USSR, live and in Russian – a unique achievement at the time of the Cold War.
Starting 1968, Albert Raisner was the host for Samedi et Compagnie. The shows changed its name in 1971 to become Samedi et Vous. Albert Raisner also hosted Point Chaud which starred Isaac Hayes, Hugues Aufray and Many Dibango. He also travelled to the United States several times and covered the Woodstock Festival for French TV. In 1973, he wrote a book retracing the history of 1960 and 1970 music, L'Aventure Pop.
After Point Chaud, Raisner created the music show Tremplin 80 and hosted it until 1983. He stepped away from TV thereafter to raise his two sons, even though he continued to be present on radio shows and participated in tours and concerts in Europe.
Albert Raisner made a comeback on TV in 1990 with Age Tendre, on channel Antenne 2, which linked artists from the 1960s to those of the 1990s. He hosted Vanessa Paradis, among others.
In the mid-1990s, he hosted 'Salut Albert' on Radio Montmartre, before hosting a show on Europe 1 at the end of the 1990s. He also kept participating in tours including one on the ship Queen Elizabeth II with Petula Clark.
At age 88, he died of respiratory insufficiency at hospital Ambroise Pare in Boulogne-Billancourt.
Albert Raisner married Brigitte Konjovic, Miss France 1978. They had two sons, Richard and Remy Raisner. He was also a member of Mensa International, a social organization whose members are in the top 2% of intelligence as measured by an IQ test entrance exam.
Grand Prix du Disque (1952) Chevalier de l'ordre national du Mérite (1978) Médaille de la ville de Paris
A harmonica pioneer, he contributed to popularize his instrument in France. He is considered as one of the best harmonicists of all times. On television, he was among the first to create a TV show for teenagers. He launched countless artists who went on to international success. He was also among the first TV hosts to become a producer as well. He thereby contributed to change in the entertainment industry's functioning. Always avant-gardist, he was one of the first host/producers to propose shooting live in other or simultaneous countries.
His TV shows' excerpts are nowadays oftentimes relayed by media. A widely successful tour featuring 1960s and 1970s French and international artists was named Age Tendre et Tetes de Bois in his honor. A harmonica song he wrote and played is still, today, and after decades, the theme of a leading Japanese radio show.
-Âge tendre et tête de bois
-Tête de bois et tendres années
-Rendez-vous sur le Rhin
-Samedi et compagnie
-Samedi et vous
-Le Jeu des 1000 francs
-Le Livre de l'harmonica, Presses du Temps Présent, Paris, 1961, 223 p.
-Méthode générale pour l'harmonica, Hohner, 1966
-L’Aventure pop, Robert Laffont, Paris, 1973, 303 p.
-Harmonica diatonique et chromatique facile : 30 standards... (Facile), 1993
-Trio Raisner, Enregistrements originaux 1948-1953
-La Magia de la Armonica
-Trio Raisner, classique et danse
-Baile con Albert Raisner
-Le Roi de l'harmonica
-1955: Les Évadés
-1959: Deux hommes dans Manhattan
-1961: Léon Morin, prêtre
-1963: L'Aîné des FerchauxAlbert Raisner on IMDb