Famous for Ne Me Quitte Pas (1972), Au Printemps (1958), and numerous other internationally-acclaimed albums of French-language chansons, Brel is also remembered for his acting work in films such as Franz (1971) and Mon Oncle Benjamin (1969).
During his high school years in Brussels, Belgium, he pursued his interests in drama and creative writing. He wrote his first songs in 1952 and released his debut recording, La Foire, the following year.
His most famous chansons, many of which were later covered by other artists and recorded in various languages, include "Mathilde," "Les Bonbons," and "Amsterdam."
His marriage to Therese Michielsen produced daughters named Chantal, France, and Isabelle. He left his family in the late 1950s and lived with his mistress, Sylvie Rivet.
British singer Marc Almond released a hit cover of Brel's song "Jacky" and recorded a 1989 album containing numerous other covers of tracks written and originally performed by Brel.