Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Aznavour: a world star passes

At the Alhambra, Paris in 1960. Pic AFP
The headline news in all the media, including the BBC, has been the death of Charles Aznavour at the age of 94 years.
Born of Armenian refugee parents in Paris, Aznavour was scorned for years by the popular music critics. Despite having written many hit songs and accompanied Edith Piaf as her pianist, appeared in films and performed across the world, the critics considered him "second division". His stature, 5'2", his unhandsome appearance (Piaf advised him to have a nose job) and his unmusical voice - not to forget his "foreign" origin - were all held against him.
In 1960 a concert in Paris transformed his status as the critics realised what the public already thought: here was a consummate performer and writer of songs of the stature of Brassens and Trenet. From then on he became a darling of the media and a world star- though it is said that his most famous English language song "She" has no French version.
Aznavour never forgot his Armenian roots and later in life paid many visits there, writing a song in homage to those who died in the Armenian genocide which led his parents to flee. After the earthquake in 1988 he set up a foundation to aid the families of the 25000 victims and remained an ambassador for that country all his life.
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