France Gall Dies from Cancer Aged 70
French singer France Gall has died at the age of 70.
The singer, who rose to fame in the 1960’s, was suffering from cancer for two years.
France Gall was taken to hospital near Paris last month for a severe infection.
She won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1965 representing Luxembourg with the song Wax Doll, Rag Doll (Poupée de cire, Poupée de son).
France Gall enjoyed more international success in 1987 with her tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, Ella, Elle l’a.
The singer was born in October 1947 into a musical family – her father was singer and songwriter Robert Gall, who penned songs for music legends Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour, among others.
France Gall was known for her childish smile and sweet voice and, in the words of Le Figaro website, “embodied the emancipation of French girls in the post-war era”. Her career spanned 50 years and Culture Minister Françoise Nyssen described her as “a timeless icon of French song”.
She was just 16 when her first single, Don’t Be So Stupid (Ne Sois Pas Si Bête), sold some 200,000 copies.
However, it was France Gall’s Eurovision victory with Poupée de cire – written by Serge Gainsbourg, one of the biggest figures in French popular music – that helped catapult her to fame and make her a star on France’s Yé-yé (yeah yeah) pop scene, so-called because of its nod to English music at the time.
Johnny Hallyday Dies Aged 74
France Gall’s death comes a month after the loss of another giant of French music, Johnny Hallyday – widely seen as the leader of the Yé-yé singers.
Her collaboration with Serge Gainsbourg later came under scrutiny, however, after she admitted she had been too young to fully understand the double meanings of some of his songs.
One of France Gall’s biggest hits was Les Sucettes (Lollipops), which tells the story of a girl who is “in paradise” every time “that little stick is on her tongue”.
Once she realized its full meaning, France Gall refused to perform the song and vowed never to work with Serge Gainsbourg again.
Her 1987 album Babacar, which included her tribute to jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald, saw her shoot to international fame.
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted about France Gall’s death: “She leaves behind songs that everyone in France knows and set an example of a life devoted to others.”
France Gall had previously been diagnosed with breast cancer in the mid-1990s, not long after the death of her husband and fellow singer Michel Berger at the age of 44 in 1992. He had written the music and lyrics for her Babacar album.
She retired from her music career following the death of the eldest of her two children, Pauline, from cystic fibrosis in 1997.
France Gall spent the final years of her life working on various humanitarian projects.