Charles Aznavour: How the son of an Armenian emigrant who was booed in clubs became a great French singer
Charles Aznavour: How the son of an Armenian emigrant who was booed in clubs became a great French singer
Charles Aznavour

Charles Aznavour is a world famous singer and legend of French chanson, film actor and composer. He starred in more than 60 films, wrote 1,300 songs, and worldwide discs with his songs have sold 200 million copies. In 1998, Aznavour took the first line in the ranking of the best pop artists of the 20th century. On October 1, 2018, the great chansonnier passed away.

They were not going to stay in Paris, they were aiming for America. But while the American visa was being processed, this couple simply fell in love with the French capital without memory. And on May 22, 1924, the firstborn was born to the Aznavuryan couple, who was given the old Persian name Shakhnur - "bright step".

Charles with his mother

As a child, he dreamed of becoming a baker - a neighbor taught him how to cook whipped cream, then a trainer - his dog knew how to drink tea with milk from a spoon. At the age of 9, Shakhnur made his debut on stage - he performed "Russian" dances. It was not difficult to deceive the French: where can they distinguish Russian from Armenian dances?

Shahnur Aznavuryan in his youth

At the age of 15, he lost interest in theater and chose a career as a singer, although his father was against it. And this despite the fact that he knew perfectly well about all his shortcomings - small stature, weak voice, angular plastic, lack of bright personality and name … Shahnur Aznavuryan could hardly have become a star in France. A pseudonym was definitely needed. This is how Charles Aznavour appeared!

He began to sing, and critics mocked him furiously. It is difficult even to imagine how a novice musician was able to survive all the negativity that poured out of the newspapers then. “It would be better for him to be an accountant”, “Aznavour is an unsold commodity”, “you can just as well sing with a wooden foot” - all these are excerpts from the press of that time. Charles's own sister arranged for him to perform at a prestigious restaurant, but he was booed. And most of all, young singers tried their best, whose names no one will remember today.

Charles Aznavour and Efit Piaf

In 1946 he met Edith Piaf. The singer was very tipsy and went to the club where Aznavour performed. Then he jokingly recalled that it was at the very moment when the audience stopped throwing heavy objects at him. Edith gave the singer a short interrogation. I asked him who he was by nationality, and then why he was in mourning. Aznavour got angry - after all, this was a hint of his black shirt. And Piaf, while he was angry, with some sixth sense sensed that he could write songs for her. However, for Piaf Aznavour did not only this. He became simply irreplaceable for her and did almost everything - from her luggage to the entertainer at her concerts. And it seemed that Piaf was happy when he was booed on stage. And she did not take his singing into account at all, or rather, he annoyed her. She believed that he imitated her and argued that "Piaf's style is only good for women." But in fairness it should be said that Charles did not try to be like her. Most likely, Edith Piaf understood that it was he who would become the one who would be adored by the people.

Aznavour with Liza Minnelli and Mikhail Baryshnikov

His voice, in a special way, tragic and unhappy, overturned all norms and in the press he was already called "the most important sound phenomenon of modern times." And also "divine bundles", "heavenly throat" - it's all about him. By the way, it was Aznavour who wrote the song "Jezebel" for Piaf, which became a real hit.

And then he got into the movies. He was offered not only to sing in the film, but to appear on the screen. And he signed a contract. The cinema, in contrast to the stage, accepted it immediately and unconditionally.The artist played his first notable roles in the films "Womanizer" and "Head against the Walls". And in 1960, when the film Shoot the Pianist was released, the chansonnier was invited to sing at Carnegie Hall. Charles Aznavour has starred in more than 60 films during his long life.

The personal life of the great chansonnier was not so cloudless. He would have been married three times, and only in the third marriage did he find peace and happiness. He entered into his first marriage at the age of 21, and his chosen one Micheline Rugel was 17 years old. Later, he will call this marriage a mistake of youth. But the couple had a daughter, Seda. The couple lived together for 5 years and divorced. And then the musician had a short romance, during which his son Patrick was born. The second marriage with Evelina Plesis was even shorter than the first. There were no children in it, which was the reason for the divorce. But Aznavour's real love was his third wife, Ulla. They lived together for over 50 years, and today his widow lives in Switzerland.

Charles Aznavour with his wife Ulla

Charles Aznavour never forgot about his historical homeland, although he emphasized that he did not consider Armenia a country where he could live. He wrote a number of songs dedicated to Armenia - "They fell", "Autobiography", "Jan" and "Gentle Armenia". In 1988, after the earthquake in Spitak, Aznavour took the initiative to create a charity organization "Aznavour for Armenia". The fund collected material assistance for the victims.

Forgiving, maestro!

There were always many rumors about Aznavour's love affairs, and he himself claimed that there were no more novels in his life than any average man. “You can love one woman and kiss many at the same time, which means to love her even more,” said the famous chansonnier. And until the last days, he assured that the main happiness in his life is his wife Ulla and children.

And especially for our readers Kulturologiya.Ru collected words of wisdom about the life, music and love of the great singer Charles Aznavour.

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