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Iconic French singer Christophe, known for ballads 'Aline' and 'Les Mots bleus', dies at 74

Christophe pictured on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival on May 13, 2015.
Christophe pictured on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival on May 13, 2015. © Bertrand Langlois, AFP

The legendary French crooner known for his distinctive voice and dandy look died overnight Thursday of a respiratory illness, his wife Véronique Bevilacqua told AFP.  

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Born Daniel Bevilacqua, the beloved French singer and songwriter was hospitalised and admitted to intensive care on March 26 in a Parisian hospital, before being transferred to the city of Brest in Brittany.

His wife and daughter wrote in a press release, "Christophe is gone. Despite the unfailing devotion of his medical team, he lost his strength."

"Words fail us today ... and long speeches are futile," they wrote.

When Christophe was hospitalised, The French daily newspaper Le Parisien reported on March 29 that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, which the singer's agent did not confirm one way or another. The family’s press release made no mention of the virus. In a telephone call with AFP, Christophe's widow stated that the cause of death was “emphysema”, a respiratory illness.

The mustachioed singer was barely 20 when he shot into the spotlight with the 1965 release of the melancholy ballad "Aline”. His star power would remain undiminished for decades, with the release of such hits as “Les Mots bleus” (1974), "La Dolce vita" (1977) and “Succès fou” (1983).

Christophe's 'Aline'

News of his death has led to an outpouring of grief and tributes on social media.

French Cultural Minister Franck Riester tweeted, "His words, his melodies and his voice transported us and moved us. Without Christophe, the French chanson has lost part of its soul, but the blue bittersweetness of his songs is indelible. My thoughts are with his wife and daughter."

Jean-Michel Jarre, who had written the lyrics for two of Christophe's major albums — "Les Paradis Perdus" in 1973 and "Les Mots bleus” in 1974 — tweeted his homage by borrowing lyrics from "Les Paradis Perdus": "Christophe, you left us tonight… and tonight, paradise is lost. Some say that those we love are eternal and they are, and so are you.”

Jarre added: "He was much more than a singer. He was a couturier of song."

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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