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Born Gerald Gardrinier in 1967 to French parents in Reunion, the boy who would later be known as Gerald De Palmas spent the first ten years of his life on the small island in the Indian Ocean. In 1977, his family moved to the south of France, and young Gerald became obsessed with bands like the Specials and the Stray Cats, and starting learning how to play guitar and bass. Later, he dropped out of high school in order to more fully concentrate on music, teaming up with Edith Fambuena and Jean-Louis Pierot and forming Les Max Valentins. Though the group never found mainstream success, it did release a few singles, but Gerald decided that he wanted more, and in 1988 he left Les Max Valentins (which then became the duo Les Valentins) for Paris, where he found work as a studio musician, writing songs for himself in his spare time. In 1994, after winning a televised talent competition, De Palmas (who has taken his mother's maiden name as a performer) signed to EMI and released his debut, La Dernière Année, the next year.
The single from the album, "Sur la Route," proved to be a huge hit for De Palmas, propelling him into stardom and winning him the Victoire de la Musique award for Best New Male Artist. Feeling the pressure to follow up with another hit, De Palmas didn't release his next record, Les Lois de la Nature, until 1997. It ended up flopping, and for the next few years De Palmas kept a low profile. However, after talking with French pop artist Jean-Jacques Goldman — who wrote a song for him, "J'en Rêve Encore" — he felt inspired and reinvigorated and began working on his next album, Marcher dans le Sable, which came out in 2000 and was a success, winning him the Victoire de la Musique for Best Male Artist in 2001. In 2002, the aptly titled live album Live 2002 was issued, and after writing songs from Celine Dion and Johnny Hallyday, among others, De Palmas set to work on his fourth studio album. Un Homme Sans Racines, which was released in 2004, was a more reflective, melancholic work. De Palmas would not release another album for five years, owing to contractual problems with his label Universal. Eventually he was able to renegotiate his contract and his next album, Sortir, came out in 2009; on it, he duetted with Eagle-Eye Cherry. Two years later a double-CD best-of, Sur Ma Route, was issued, which included the previously unreleased track "L'Étranger".