The last “monstre sacré”, or superstar, of French chanson has left the stage forever at age 94
Once again, France is in mourning. After an international career that spanned more than six decades, and a life well lived, one of her all-time greatest artists had bid his final adieu. Charles Aznavour passed away at his home in Mouriès, Southern France, on October 1, 2018, aged 94. Often referred to as the French Sinatra, the singer of Armenian origin was synonymous with French culture, at least that of a nostalgically missed bygone era.
Who, from Paris to Moscow, from Canada to Australia, and any place in between, does not know songs like “She” or “Emmenez-moi”, performed not just in French but in many other languages. The list of internationaltop artists he recorded with or wrote songs for, is endless, among them Edith Piaf, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, Andrea Bocelli, Bing Crosby, Ray Charles, Dusty Springfield, Liza Minnelli, Elton John, Dalida, Serge Gainsbourg, Johnny Halliday, Josh Groban, Petula Clark, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, José Carreras, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Nana Mouskouri, Julio Iglesias, Elvis Costello, Mireille Mathieu, Céline Dion, Sting, Paul Anka…. No style, no genre, that he wouldn’t be open to. Lesser known but no less important, his career as an actor… he appeared in over 80 films and TV movies.
For all that he still found time to be socially and politically active, notably championing the cause of Armenians in the diaspora. He was never afraid to reach deep into his own pockets to help where he could. Beyond that he systematically drove forward the cause of copyright law reform.
A natural-born performer, the crooner’s wish was to die on stage. Although that did not happen, his last public appearance took place only two weeks prior to his final exit, on tour in Japan. His long-time friend Johnny Halliday who preceded him by a mere 10 months is certain to await the legendary Charles Aznavour at the gates of the Eternal Music Hall of Fame. May they rock in peace.
I was twenty years old
I caressed time
I enjoyed life
Like one savours love
And I lived for the night
Without counting my days
That were wasting away with time
— Charles Aznavour, lyrics, Only yesterday (Hier encore)