Monday 16 September 2019

Legendary French singer Aznavour dies aged 94

Bittersweet: Singer Charles Aznavour in a photo from 2015. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Bittersweet: Singer Charles Aznavour in a photo from 2015. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Julie Carriat in Paris

French singer Charles Aznavour, who stole the hearts of millions with decades of haunting love songs, has died aged 94.

Aznavour passed away over Sunday night at one of his homes, in the village of Mouries, north of Marseille.

The singer, who sold more than 100 million records in 80 countries, began his career peddling his words and music to the Paris boulevardiers of the 1940s and 50s - Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, Charles Trenet. But it became evident that Aznavour himself best interpreted the bittersweet emotions of such songs as 'Hier Encore' (Yesterday When I Was Young), 'Apres l'Amour' (After Love) and 'La Boheme'. Others were 'She' and 'Formidable'.

In his autobiography, 'Aznavour by Aznavour', he recalls that after a period trying to play the role of a tough guy, he was goaded one evening into climbing on the bandstand to sing. "There, I had a revelation. I saw that the girls looked at me much more, their eyes moist and their lips apart, than when I played a terror ... I was only 15 or 16, but I understood," he wrote.

Aznavour's ability to achieve an intimate rapport with audiences also brought him acclaim as an actor, notably in director Francois Truffaut's 'Tirez Sur le Pianiste' (Shoot the Piano Player) in 1960.

Sometimes described as France's Frank Sinatra, Aznavour was born in Paris on May 22, 1924, to Armenian parents - his birth name was Shahnour Aznavourian.

Short in stature at 5ft3in, he possessed a magnetic stage presence that brought audiences to their feet at venues such as the Olympia in Paris and New York's Carnegie Hall.

Irish Independent

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