Thursday, 22 May 2014

The why and wherefore I'm alive

Nicknamed the "French Frank Sinatra", at only 5' 3", luxuriously-eyebrowed and a bit craggy, Monsieur Charles Aznavour was always an unlikely sex symbol. Yet, in a similar vein to other confusing objects of female passion such as Demis Roussos and Barry White, M Aznavour's chants d'amour made him an internationally-adored superstar.

Today, the last of the great French chansonniers (although he is actually Armenian) celebrates his 90th birthday - and here are just a few examples of the great man's genius, by way of a celebration...

How about this for a slice of fabulousity? Here's the man himself duetting with his former lover, protégé and lifelong friend Liza Minnelli - Le Temps (There is a Time):

Marc Almond - no stranger to a chanson or two in his time - pays fitting tribute with his sublime version of one of my favourites What Makes A Man A Man:

Shirley Bassey (of course) performs the possibly definitive rendition of Yesterday When I Was Young (another cherished song here at Dolores Delargo Towers):

And finally, here's his classic song that launched a thousand British romantic movies, She. [Forgive the Xmas trees!]

Facts about M Aznavour:
  • He has written over a thousand songs, many of which have have been recorded by an astonishing array of performers such as Edith Piaf, Ray Charles, Andrea Bocelli, Fred Astaire, Bob Dylan, Bing Crosby, Sting and Elvis Costello.
  • His most famous song (over here, anyway) She was a million-seller in Britain in 1974 but apparently failed to sell at all in France.
  • As well as myriad duets through the years with the likes of Nana Mouskouri, Liza Minnelli, Line Renaud, Elton John, Carole King and Julio Iglesias, in 1987 he embarked upon an immensely successful American tour with none other than Pia Zadora(!).
  • After trying his hand at operettas in the 60s, the singer wrote a musical about the life of French painter Toulouse-Lautrec, which premiered at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London in April 2000.
  • In 1998 CNN and readers of Time magazine chose Aznavour as the entertainer of the century, ahead of Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan.
  • Despite embarking on a "farewell tour" in the 90s, he is still performing; just last October he sang at the Royal Albert Hall and his performance earned outstanding reviews.
  • He is one of the few writers whose songs can make me cry.
Joyeux anniversaire!

Charles Aznavour (born Shahnour Varinag Aznavourian, 22nd May 1924)


  1. He is playing the Albert Hall again this year in Oct I think, I remember thinking when I saw the advert that celebrating your 90th birthday with a concert which is a year away is rather brave - I wish him a very Happy Birthday

    1. They build 'em of hardy stock in Armenia, evidently... Jx

  2. I'm seeing him on 1 June at the RAH. I cannot wait. He is one of the very few living performers/singers/songwriters that I really revere. He eclipses nearly all other artists in the field. I'm currently compiling my list of the saddest songs ever, and he's got several possible entries. (Can you guess which one I'll choose?) xxx Rupert Smith

    1. Darling Rupert - somehow I guessed you'd love M Aznavour. And at a guess, when compiling the saddest of the sad, then "Yesterday When I Was Young" has to top the list... Jx


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