Charles Aznavour, the French singer and musical stylist sometimes referred to a France’s Sinatra, has died at age 94.
His death at one of his homes in France was confirmed by both his producer Gerard Drouout Productions and the French Culture Ministry.
French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement: “Profoundly French, viscerally attached to his Armenian roots, famous in the entire world, Charles Aznavour accompanied the joys and sorrows of three generations. His masterpieces, his timbre, his unique influence will long survive him.”
Though he never achieved fame in the United States on the level of his European popularity, his dramatic gestures and story-telling style of singing and songwriting was a major influence on Liza Minnelli, David Bowie and even Bob Dylan. In a 1998 concert at Madison Square Garden featuring Dylan and Joni Mitchell, Dylan paid tribute to Aznavour with a performance of Aznavour’s “The Times We’ve Known.”
Born in 1924 to Armenian parents in Paris, Aznavour would eventually make his name as a singer, he acted in such films as as Francois Truffaut’s 1960 Shoot the Pianist, Volker Schloendorff’s 1979 The Tin Drum, and Atom Egoyan’s 2002 Ararat.
Initially associated with the now legendary French chanteuse Edit Piaf, he would also become a oft-cited inspiration for (and occasionally the stage with) Minnelli.
He wrote more than 1000 songs, and among his most popular hits were his English-language “She,” as well as “La Boheme,” “La Mamma”, “Apres l’Amour,“(After Love), and, in 1972, “Comme Ils Disent” (As They Say), controversial at the time for depicting a gay man’s love story.
Aznavour was awarded France’s National Order of Merit in 2001. In his later years, he spoke about against right-wing anti-immigrant sentiment and Jean-Marie Le Pe.
Aznavour was married three times and had six children.