Monday 1 February 2010

Le cavalier électrique

Was he murdered by secret agents? Did he electrocute himself with a dildo? Many increasingly stupid theories abound about the death of Claude François, Gallic/Egyptian superstar of the 1960s and 70s (whose 71st birthday it would have been today). However, given the official verdict that he actually electrocuted himself by trying to a change a light-bulb while stood in the bath, who is the most stupid?

Anyhow, whatever the truth about the man's death, in life he was one of the most flamboyantly camp showbiz characters in post-war French pop, and although he never had any hits of his own outside France he made his fortune internationally nonetheless. For M. François was the mastermind behind one of the best-selling songs in history Comme D'habitude, which when translated into English by Paul Anka became My Way. A legend was born.

Despite his outrageous costumes, his nickname "Clo-Clo", his "ye-ye" go-go dancer backing troupe Les Clodettes and his hysterical following of young girls and queens d'un certain age, he maintained an ostensibly heterosexual life - he married once, had a public affair with chanteuse France Gall, and fathered two children with wine expert Isabelle Forêt before ditching her for a younger model. In private, however, many insiders have gone on record to state that his affairs d'amour were indeed less-than-straight...

Whatever the truth may be, it is a fact that on his untimely death at the age of 39 in 1978, mass hysteria followed among his fans. His death even inspired a number of female fans to attempt suicide in order to join him in the next world. Two of them succeeded... Ten years after he died a square in Paris was re-named in his honour. He entered that hallowed world of camp French icons alongside the likes of Dalida and left us, on this Tacky Music Monday, with some deliciously kitsch gems indeed!

Claude François biography on RFI Musique..

"The Claude François Mystery" blog article

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