French singer Charles Aznavour sadly passed away at the age of 94, but his long career has left a lasting impact on French culture, and the world. Here’s 5 things to know about Charles.

Charles Aznavour died today, Oct. 1, at the age of 94, and the record-breaking singer is being mourned throughout the world. Called the “Frank Sinatra of France,” Charles was known for his melancholic and stirring vocals, similar to those of Sinatra. Born to an Armenian family in Paris, Charles quit school at age nine to pursue a career in acting, which turned into a singing career during WW2. Charles’ career was filled with several affairs with fellow world class singers, such as Liza Minelli, and he recorded gorgeous duets with big names such as Elton John, Celine Dion, and Sting. Heres 5 things to know about Charles and his incredible life and career!

1. Aznavour’s singing career began in German-occupied Paris. 
Charles and his family were a part of the underground resistance in occupied Paris during WW2. Because of their Armenian heritage and their culture’s history with genocide, Charles and his family helped hide Jews and communists in their home, while Charles sang in cabarets and bars to help make money and keep his career alive. Following the war, his singing career flourished, and he opened for the legendary Edith Piaf at the Moulin Rouge, who told him to get a nose job.

2. Aznavour’s biggest hit is ‘She,’ released in 1974.
“She” spent four weeks at No. 1 on the UK singles chart, and was also recorded in French, German, Italian and Spanish. It was then covered by Elvis Costello in 1999 for Notting Hill, and resurfaced on the charts.

3. One of Aznavour’s songs, ‘What Makes a Man,’ takes on homophobia.
In 1972, Aznavour released “What Makes A Man,” which is one of his most notable songs. It is sung in the persona of a gay man who faces down homophobia, singing, “Nobody has the right to be / The judge of what is right for me.” The song helped define Aznavour as a gloomier, melancholic singer.

4. Aznavour was also an avid songwriter.
Of the French singer’s 1,400 songs, he wrote 1,300 himself. Additionally, Aznavour sold over 100 million records in 80 countries!

5. Aznavour was married three times and has six children.
Aznavour was married to Micheline Rugel (1946), Evelyn Plessis (1956) and his current wife Ulla Thorsell (1967). Six children were produced from the three marriages. The oldest child, Seda, is a singer, as well.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Charles Aznavour’s family.


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