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Armenian-born French singer Charles Aznavour has died aged 94 [File: EPA/Valentin Flauraud]
Dubbed France’s Frank Sinatra, Aznavour is known as one of the greatest singer-songwriters of the 20th century.
The legendary French singer Charles Aznavour, whose career spanned eight decades, has died aged 94.
The songwriter, who had just returned from a concert tour of Japan last month, died in his home in Alpilles in southeastern France.
One of France’s most recognisable faces, Aznavour sold more than 100 million records in 80 countries. He composed more than 1,000 songs and also appeared in around 70 films.
On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to Aznavour’s “masterpieces, voice tone” and “unique radiance.”
“Deeply French, viscerally attached to his Armenian roots, recognised throughout the world, Charles Aznavour will have accompanied the joys and sorrows of three generations,” Macron wrote in a tweet.
Aznavour had to cancel several concerts last year after breaking his arm in a fall.
But as late as Friday, the diminutive singer told French television that though his Swedish-born wife wanted him to stop, he would happily die on stage.
“I always go forwards,” said the performer who tried to write a song every day. “There is no backwards step with me.
“All I can do is live, and I live on stage. I am happy up there, and you can see that,” he added.
Multilingual and a tireless traveller, Aznavour was named “Entertainer of the Century” by CNN in 1998 because of his immense global popularity.
He pioneered a new, highly emotional way of performing, turning every song into “a one-act play”.
In the English-speaking world he was often dubbed France’s Frank Sinatra, but unlike the American crooner, he wrote his own songs, often breaking taboos about marriage, homosexuality and men talking about their emotions.
Ironically, his favourite song was one of the few in his repertoire he didn’t write himself, “La Boheme”.