Millions and millions of people are mourning the passing of internationally known legendary musician, actor and composer, Charles Aznavour, who died on Monday October 1st, 2018 at age 94, as we had mentioned last week.
The news of his passing spread like wildfire in Armenia, where hundreds gathered at the Charles Aznavour square in Moscow Cinema Plaza in Yerevan and laid flowers in memory of the iconic singer. Aznavour became a champion of the Armenian cause and Armenia, shining an international light on all things Armenian, wherever he went.
A very impressive funeral was held and attended by many dignitaries, including the President of France, the President of Armenia, the Prime Minister of Armenia, His Holiness Karekin II, and others. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan declared that a “National Hero of Armenia has died.”
Pashinyan and Macron’s Praise
“It is difficult to believe that the man who shaped an entire era and history, created love and served his people (because Aznavour used to say that he is 100 percent French and 100 percent Armenian) has died. For 80 years his artistic activities were a source of admiration and inspiration for dozens, hundreds of millions of people on all continents,” said Pashinyan in his message. “This is truly a painful day for the history of our people and our country. Armenia’s National Hero has died. Charles Aznavour’s contributions to the accomplishment and strengthening of independent Armenia is unforgettable,” added Pashinyan.
On Aznavour’s passing French President Emmanuel Macron, praised Aznavour for his contribution to French, Armenian, and international culture. “Profoundly French, but connected with his Armenian roots, recognized all over the world, Aznavour spread with his works the joy and sadness of three generations. His masterpieces, his image and light will survive him for a long time,” Macron said on Twitter.
Aznavour Helped Armenia After the 1988 Earthquake
Immediately following the devastating earthquake in Armenia in 1988. Aznavour gathered his colleagues in the music industry to record “For You Armenia,” to benefit relief efforts for the earthquake. Horizon Armenian Television had exclusive rights to air the music video.
Born Chahnour Vaghinag Aznavourian on May 22, 1924, in Paris, Aznavour was the younger of two children born to Armenian immigrants who fled the Armenian Genocide to France. He took his first theatrical bow in the play “Emil and the Detectives” at age nine and within a few years was working as a movie extra. He eventually quit school and toured France and Belgium as a boy singer and dancer with a traveling troupe while living the bohemian lifestyle.
A popular performer at the Paris’ Club de la Chanson, it was there that he was introduced in 1941 to the songwriter Pierre Roche. In the post World War II years, Charles began appearing in films, one of them as a singing croupier in Goodbye Darling (1946). Eventually, Aznavour earned great reputation composing street-styled songs for other established musicians and singers, notably Edith Piaf, for whom he wrote the French version of the American hit “Jezebel”. Heavily encouraged by her, he toured with her as both an opening act and lighting man. He lived with Piaf out of need for a time not as one of her many paramours.
Dubbed as “Frank Sinatra of France”
Dubbed the “Frank Sinatra of France” and singing in many languages, including French, English, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, Armenian, and Portuguese.
One of his most popular songs in America, “Yesterday When I was Young” has had renditions covered by everyone from Shirley Bassey to Julio Iglesias.
Aznavour sang for president, popes, and royalty, as well as at humanitarian events. In response to the 1988 earthquake, he founded the charitable organization Aznavour for Armenia along with his longtime friend impresario Levon Sayan and the organization assisted Gyumri residents with all kinds of help.
In 1989, a song Charles Aznavour composed a song “Pour toi Armenie,” which was recorded by a group of French singers popular at the time. The charity single was intended to raise funds to help the Armenians who experienced the 1988 Spitak earthquake. It sold more than one million copies.
In 2009, Aznavour was appointed Armenia’s Ambassador to Switzerland. “First I hesitated, as it s not an easy task, then I thought that what is important for Armenia is important for us. I have accepted the proposal with love, happiness, and feeling of deep dignity,” Aznavour said.
On August 24, 2017, Aznavour was awarded the 2618th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of the Pantages theater on Hollywood and Vine Boulevards.