The King of Chanson has left the stage.
In an interview Charles Aznavour once said that he hadn’t celebrated a birthday since his 50th birthday. He wanted to make up for that by celebrating his 100th birthday. He has succeeded a lot in his long life as an artist, at least not, we know now. He died on 1 October at the age of 94 in his house near Paris.
His real name was Shahnour Varenagh Aznavourian, who refers to his Armenian origin. His father Mischa Aznavourian, his mother Knar Baghdasaryan and his sister Aida, who was born in Greece during the trip from Armenia, were temporarily stranded in France waiting for a visa for the USA. Indeed, his family did not know at that time that they would settle here indefinitely. Charles was born on 22 May 1924 in Paris.
His father was a hard worker, but he was more talented in music than in running a business. His restaurant, Le Caucase, invited Hungarian orchestras and offered free lunch to the less fortunate and also to some friends. This didn’t take long, of course, as the company made very little profit. The mother, who was studying literature, had to work temporarily as a seamstress.
But the true interest and passion of his parents were the shows they produced with their immigrant friends for the diaspora. Charles started his career in show business at a very young age. Together with his sister they appeared now and then in plays.
His career began at the end of the war. At school Charles met Pierre Roche, a very talented pianist. They composed music together and wrote texts for themselves and later for others. Raoul Breton, called “La Marquise”, was responsible for introducing them to French show business, especially Edith Piaf. He wrote several songs for them and became their manager. This collaboration developed into a very strong friendship. She invited them to tour the USA between 1947 and 1948. Thus began his international career as secretary and pianist of Edith Piaf, who also promoted his artistic career.
The rest is history. Charles Aznavour has recorded over 1000 chansons, 800 of which he wrote himself. About 200 million records were sold worldwide. He was also Armenian ambassador in Switzerland and permanent representative of Armenia to the United Nations in Geneva.
Source for this report: Wikipedia / Aznavourfoundation