A career as long as a lifetime for an artist who has left his mark on French song. Charles Aznavour is revolutionary! But he swapped paving stones for paper, slogans for a sharp pen. Untiringly, he tells the "real life", the one that never appears in other people's songs, based on cigarettes after love, crumpled stockings and complex feelings.
Popular poetry and unvarnished lyrics, against the tide of the rose-water crooners of the time. Combined with a voice that is hoarse, veiled, sometimes out of breath and a rather banal physique, Charles Aznavour knows that nothing will be easy. But he persists and signs, always thinking that the text has more value than the rhythm, and that it is through his words that he can touch something timeless and universal in his audience.
The path will be sinuous but will never frighten this workaholic in his eternal quest for recognition. With hard work and a touch of luck, he finally reaches glory by singing, ironically, Je m’voyais déjà. And at the top of the bill, he will remain there until his death, carrying even his vision of France - a mixed race, a welcoming land, in fragile balance with multiple influences - throughout the world.
In the spotlight, that is where he belongs. From the smallest halls to the most famous stages, he sings in nine different languages from Tokyo to Paris, telling nostalgic stories or subtly awakening the consciences of a now-acquired audience. At the age of 94, the man who had become a monument to French chanson still had a multitude of dates planned when he passed away. Singing until his last breath, he did not die on stage, but just as well.
Little Charles knew that he wanted to be an artist very early on. He found his stage name, Aznavour, when he was only nine years old and immediately wanted to go "beyond the easy ditty", like Trenet before him. At the age of 17, he formed a duo with Pierre Roche and it was while taking part in a radio programme that his luck ran out. There he met La Môme, Edith Piaf herself, who took him under her wing for almost eight years.
A talented poet, Aznavour writes for others as well as for himself. This brings him a certain notoriety but above all a flood of criticism. His physique, his gestures, his veiled and nasal voice, everything is subject to mockery, the press willingly describing him as "little man, little singer", even "Quasimodo". About this period, Aznavour will say: "If I have managed to be someone, it is thanks to seventeen years of hard work, struggles, misery and discouragement".
If success comes in the bins, Charles Aznavour still doesn't seduce in concert. That evening in 1960, he tried his hand at everything and performed for the first time Je m'voyais déjà, in a staging with his back to the audience, which had given him a cold reception. Being ready to hang up, he was then taken by a thunderous applause. At 36 years of age, it was the beginning of glory!
The sixties were the years of triumph for the singer who multiplied his successes: Hier Encore, La Bohème, Emmenez-moi and even Retiens la nuit, which he wrote for Johnny Hallyday. But the insatiable artist was determined to conquer the planet. In 1973, he released the title The old fashioned way, followed by She, which brought him his greatest success in the United Kingdom. He ranked number 1 in sales there, as well as 44th in the American Billboard charts.
The dramatic earthquake in Armenia, his parents' home country, deeply affects the singer. From then on, he never ceased to support the Armenians through his foundation but also with Pour toi Arménie, a song in collaboration with more than 80 artists that reached the top of the charts.
In the 2000s, Charles Aznavour continued to travel the world, announcing several farewell tours, notably to the American continent, before returning there in force. In 2010, he said: "Do you like stagnant waters? Me, no, it smells bad! I have to move. It's dangerous not to do anything, the pensioners are dying". In 2017, Gérard and Matthieu Drouot produce the last concert of this legend at the AccordHotels Arena. The maestro did not finally stop until his death.
A very big Charles tonight! Without a big head, without false modesty, this maestro of French chanson takes us back to his classics: La Bohème, Mes Emmerdes, Emmenez-moi, etc. For two hours, this great man shows that he always sings right and with incredible class, accompanied by the best musicians.
We are honoured to have accompanied the mythical Charles Aznavour in his passage among men. A man of the stage above all, his concerts were always sold-out events. As the voice of French song from the four corners of the globe, a music lover of genius, his lyrics, authentic, inspiring, generous or nostalgic, will, like him, remain firmly anchored in the hearts of the French.
Aznavour quickly demonstrated all his talent with one of his masterpieces, "His Youth". After reciting it, he sings it, accompanied on the piano. And then demonstrates all his genius, with this unique way of embodying, eyes and fists closed, forgetting his tremors and the prompter, penetrated by the nostalgia of his 20 years.
As a true patron of French song, Charles Aznavour is going to recall with brilliant and divinely written songs how much of a monument he is.