Obituary

Charles Aznavour was France's Sinatra

Charles Aznavour.
Charles Aznavour.PHOTO: NYTIMES

PARIS • Charles Aznavour the France-born singer who collaborated with stars such as Frank Sinatra and Sting while pursuing his passion for Armenian causes during a 70-year music and film career, has died at 94.

He died in his home in Alpilles in south-eastern France, Agence France-Presse reported on Monday.

Best known for songs in his native French, Aznavour also sang in English, Italian, Spanish, German and Armenian, selling more than 180 million records, his website said.

His style was that of a crooner, backed by a jazzy big band and singing of love and nostalgia.

He recorded or performed with artists as varied as Ray Charles, Liza Minnelli, Bob Dylan, Jose Carreras, Youssou N'Dour and Julio Iglesias.

He recorded more than 1,400 songs and appeared in more than 60 films. He performed on stage into his 90s.

Often called the "French Frank Sinatra", he recorded a duet, You Make Me Feel So Young, with the American singer for Sinatra's 1993 album Duets. In the same year, he toured with Minnelli through Europe and the United States, performing at New York's Carnegie Hall.

Aznavour was born on May 22, 1924, in Paris. His parents were Armenian immigrants who were waiting for a visa to move to the US and ended up staying in France.

His father was an opera singer who ran a restaurant where bands performed, while his mother took temporary jobs as a seamstress.

Growing up in poverty, he dropped out of school early to perform in theatres with his sister.

His big break came in 1946, when he was discovered by singer Edith Piaf, who took him on tour to the US. He broke through in France in 1956 with Sur Ma Vie, a sad love tale with echoes of Sinatra. In the 1970s, he had success in Britain with She and The Old Fashioned Way, sung in charmingly accented English.

Aznavour, who was indicted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1996, was married three times and had six children.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2018, with the headline 'Charles Aznavour was France's Sinatra '. Print Edition | Subscribe