Singer, star of more than 60 films and composer of over 1,000 songs, Charles Aznavour has died at the wise age of 94 at his home in Mouriés. Born in Paris, France in 1924 to Armenian parents who had fled the Turkish oppression of their home country, Aznavour was enrolled into acting school when he was nine, starting a lifelong career in the show business. Following many parts as a youth actor, it was his role in 1960’s “Shoot The Piano Player” as a pianist with a “mysterious past” that was perhaps his most well-known. His music career was more intense, selling close to 200 million records. He wrote for not only himself but Edith Piaf, Gilbert Bécaud, Léo Ferré, and Yves Montand among others. He was frequently compared to Frank Sinatra, though he admitted he learned his idiomatic speech from Sinatra, but his favorite American singers were Fred Astaire and Mel Tormé.

Aznavour was the father to six children, married to model Ulla Thorsell, and beloved as a performer.  Bob Dylan stated in an interview with Rolling Stone upon being asked who some of the greatest live performers he had seen were: “I saw him in sixty-something, at Carnegie Hall, and he just blew my brains out. I went there with somebody who was French, not knowing what I was getting myself into.”
His passion for his parent’s country and helping others was shown as he organized help after the 1988 Armenia earthquake that killed 48,000 people with his charitable organization Aznavour for Armenia. He was quite the fund-raiser for those in need and was made an unofficial ambassador for the country after breaking off from the Soviet Union (he was then made an official ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland in 2009, along with being their permanent delegate to the United Nations in Geneva). French president Emmanuel Macron wrote on October 1st: “Profoundly French, viscerally attached to his Armenian roots, famous in the entire world, Charles Aznavour accompanied the joys and sorrows of three generations. His masterpieces, his timbre, his unique influence will long survive him.”

A brief statement was released for mourning fans on his Twitter page: “October 2, from 12pm, a book of condolence for Charles Aznavour will be opened at the Aznavour Center in Yerevan (Cascade). You can bring flowers and candles, and leave your message.” If you’re like most and can’t make it, give ‘Yesterday When I Was Young’ a listen below as tribute.

Sarah Medeiros