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France to pay national homage to singer Aznavour at Paris ceremony

AFP | Charles Aznavour died Monday, October 1, 2018 at his home in southeast France, aged 94.

France will pay "national homage" to singer Charles Aznavour after he passed away this week, the French presidency said Tuesday, as an autopsy found the beloved performer died in his bathtub after suffering heart and breathing problems.

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A ceremony to honour Aznavour, one of France's most famous stars, will be held in Paris on Friday, the office of French President Emmanuel Macron announced.

Macron himself will deliver a speech at a ceremony to be held in the courtyard of Les Invalides, a complex of buildings and monuments related to French military history.

Aznavour, 94, was found dead on Monday at his home in the southeast, sparking nationwide mourning for an entertainer who sold 180 million records during his eight-decade-long career.

Franco-Armenian Aznavour was discovered Monday lunchtime "lying in his bathroom bathtub, next to his bedroom," prosecutor Patrick Desjardins told reporters near his home in the town of Mouries on Tuesday.

An autopsy found the death "occurred in the morning of October 1, in the wake of an acute oedema caused by cardiorespiratory failure," Desjardins said.

"Foul play can be ruled out, but the circumstances surrounding the death are not precisely known."

Heartbroken

Aznavour had said last week that he wanted to breathe his last on stage and was scheduled to appear live in Belgium and France in the next few weeks.

His legions of fans have been left heartbroken by his death, while fellow entertainers lined up to pay tribute to his influence as a taboo-breaking singer and original songwriter.

Sting and Lenny Kravitz lauded the "eternal" legacy of the "gentleman" of traditional French singing, while Elton John wrote on Twitter that he was "honoured" at having sung with the man sometimes referred to as "France's Sinatra".

Aznavour's fanbase spanned the world thanks to his role in Francois Truffaut's film "Shoot the Piano Player" in 1960 that catapulted him to fame outside France, as well as his commercial success in America and loyal following among the Armenian diaspora.

On Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, wellwishers layed flowers on the pavement star bearing his name, while Armenia commemorated him in parliament and on the underground train stations in the capital Yerevan, which played his songs.

The Armenian government also decreed a day of mourning to coincide with the day on which he will be buried in France, with details of his funeral still unknown.

Armenian heritage

Aznavour was born in Paris on May 22, 1924, to Armenian parents who had fled the massacres in their homeland and the singer would say that Armenians were "in my heart and in my blood".

He had been due to accompany Macron as a guest of honour at a summit of francophone countries in Armenia on October 10 and 11.

In Lebanon, which has a large Armenian population, his death was also front-page news and radio stations played his songs.

In Paris, the Eiffel tower was lit up in gold Monday night in his honour, while Mayor Anne Hidalgo called for the French capital to rename a street after him.

French newspapers Tuesday splashed the singer on their front pages, with several praising him as the "last of the giants".

Aznavour, who was three-times married, leaves a wife, Ulla, and five surviving children.

Friday's ceremony in Paris will be the second time in a year France has held a day of mourning for one of its musical icons after hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets of the capital in December for the funeral and national homage to another iconic French singer, Johnny Hallyday.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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