The French singer Charles Aznavour has died at the age of 94. He sold more than 100 million records in 80 countries and had about 1,400 songs to his name, including 1,300 he wrote himself. He was known for his vivid lyrics, rich storytelling, emotion filled performances and his infectious humor. 1955’s Après l’Amour, was banned on French radio for its depiction of a couple basking in post-coital happiness. 1972’s What Makes a Man, was sung in the persona of a gay man who faces down homophobia to declare: “Nobody has the right to be / The judge of what is right for me.”
His biggest hit in English was the 1974 “She”. It spent four weeks at No 1 in the UK singles chart, and was also recorded in French, German, Italian and Spanish. The song got a second lease of life when it was covered by Elvis Costello for the soundtrack to the 1999 film Notting Hill.
Aznavour opened for Édith Piaf at the Moulin Rouge. She advised him to have a nose job, only to declare, “I preferred you before” after the surgery.
He also sang with Liza Minnelli, whom he also had a brief love affair. Aznavour recorded duets with Sinatra, Elton John, Céline Dion, Bryan Ferry, Sting, Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo. In 2010, he recorded Un Geste pour Haiti Chérie, a song with young French rap stars, to help raise money after the devastating earthquake in Haiti.
Aznavour was given a star on the Hollywood walk of fame in 2017.