France's 'Frank Sinatra' Charles Aznavour, singer of 1974 hit 'She', dies at the age of 94
Aznavour was known to have sold more than 100 million records in 80 countries and was considered to be France's Frank Sinatra
French singer Charles Aznavour, who rose to global fame with his iconic song 'She' in 1974, has reportedly died at the age of 94. The songwriter had apparently just returned from a concert tour of Japan last month and was found dead in his home in Alpilles in southeastern France.
Last year, the French singer had to cancel a lot of his pre-planned concerts after he broke his arm in an accident. Aznavour has sold more than 100 million records in 80 countries and was considered to be France's Frank Sinatra.
The singer, whose real name was Shahnour Varinag Aznavourian and was born in Paris to Armenian parents, began his career peddling his music to French artists of the 1940s and 1950s such as Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, and Charles Trenet.
However, unlike Sinatra, Aznavour wrote his own songs, a lot of which talked about sex, depression and flagging libidos, such as his 1973 hit 'What Makes a Man', which was about a gay transvestite. With the help of his songs and music, Aznavour broke a lot of taboos about marriage, homosexuality, and men talking about their emotions.
"It's a kind of sickness I have, talking about things you're not supposed to talk about," he said. "I started with homosexuality and I wanted to break every taboo. I felt strongly, and I had to take a stand."
A gifted actor as well as a linguist, Aznavour brought a rare intensity to the stage, turning every song into "a one-act play." He even got himself the lead role in Francois Truffaut's film 'Shoot the Piano Player' in 1960 that catapulted him to fame outside France.
Aznavour was always strongly associated with France's large ethnic Armenian community, and in the year 1988, he led humanitarian efforts to help the victims of the earthquake that shattered his parents' homeland. "Armenia and Armenians are in my heart and in my blood. It was unthinkable that I would do nothing faced by so much misfortune and suffering," he wrote, describing the quake as a turning point in his life.
Reports say that Aznavour saw himself "more as an actor who sings than a singer who acts", which is maybe why he went on to star in more than 60 films and wrote over 1,300 songs in a staggeringly prolific career, which also earned him the title of 'Entertainer of the Century' by CNN and Time Online.
He also performed duets with Sinatra, Elton John, Sting, and Celine Dion and his song 'She' was re-recorded by Elvis Costello for the British romantic comedy 'Notting Hill'. Aznavour was a father of six children and was married three times during his life. About his married life, he said, "[The] first time I was too young, the second I was too stupid, and the third I married a woman from a different culture and I learned tolerance."