Real name: Marie-Louise Pleiss
(b. 28/1/43, Einbeck, near Hannover, Germany)
A long biography translated thanks to Alan!:
60's French yé-yé goes beyond F. Hardy, Sheila and S. Vartan. One of these other singers was Ria Bartok. She knew success for two years, then tragedy crossed her way. Such a pity.
She was born in Enben, near Hannover. Her father was an opera singer (not related with composer Bartok, as far as we know). She studied in several european cities, then in the fifties the family established in France and she obtained the title of nurse, but doesn't work in it for much time. In 1963, she signed with the label Ricordi and made her first EP, which included 'Parc'que je revu François', a trepidant version of 'I Saw Linda Yesterday', and her first hit. Then followed a second EP with RCA, and, from the autumn of '63, seven more with Columbia (Emi).
This meant two things: that the records sold well (even if they weren't a big success), and that Columbia had great hopes on the artist, as an alternative to Sylvie Vartan, phisically similar and more energetic.
Jean Paul Guiter, Ria's artistic director, tailored her EP's in the best way of the time: great photo covers and fantastic french versions of Goffin and King ('Chills', 'I'm Into Something Good', 'He's In Town'), Mann and Weil ('Heart'), Leiber and Stoller ('Lucky Lips'), Chris Andrews ('You Can't Blame Him') and other succesful composers. There were also french composers who wrote songs for her. Ria's style developped from American R&B (1963-64) to girl group sound and British pop (1964-65), always with delicious arrangements and with two dancing songs, at least, in every record.
Her best years were 1963 and 1964. Success had eluded her when other artists recorded the same song (this happened two times with Richard Anthony, her label mate). Then in the autumn of '64, 'Et Quelque Chose Me Dit', a version of Herman's Hermits' version of 'I'm Into Something Good', by Goffin and King, went to the hit parade of "Salut Les Copains", and 'Ce Monde' (Cilla Black's 'You Are My World', by Umberto Bindi), released in single by Pathé, a subsidiary label of Emi, was number one in Canada. Then Columbia tried to promote Ria Bartok in the British market, and released 'See If I Care' (an English version of her 'Diggedle Boeing' from '63). It was well received enough for Rita to appear at TV's programme "Thank Your Lucky Stars" (ABC).
There is no happy ending. Columbia was releasing Ria's EPs still in 1965, and all seemed well and promising when she died in a fire which she started accidentally. Although her early death doesn't let us know how would had developped her career, we can enjoy all she made, beacause her complete discography has been beautifully released in CD.
Ria Bartok - Tu peux pas savoir
Ria Bartok - C'est Bien Fait (Yesterday)
Ria Bartok - N'y Touche Pas