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Music crossing languages.
November 11, 2007 8:45 PM   Subscribe

Claude François was one of France's most successful popstars, a complete song-and-dance act who remained at the top of the charts for almost ten years before his career was tragically cut short when he tried to change a lightbulb while in the bath (youtube ahead).

He started out adapting American hits for the french market, including his most popular song 'Belles Belles Belles' (from the Everly Brothers song 'Made To Love'), 'Si j'avais un marteau' (Trini Lopez' 'If I had a hammer') and 'Je vais a Rio'.
He progressed to writing his own french chart-toppers (including 'Alexandra Alexandrie', 'Le Telephone Pleure', 'Marche Tout Droit' and 'Magnolias Forever' among many many more), and eventually his original works were the base of some famous English songs: 'Comme d'habitude' became 'My Way', and 'Cette annee-la' became 'Oh, What a Night'.
posted by jacalata (19 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
when he tried to change a lightbulb while in the bath (youtube ahead).

For a moment there I thought you were going to link to a video of the incident in question.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:58 PM on November 11, 2007


his career was tragically cut short when he tried to change a lightbulb while in the bath...

Those French ain't too bright, are they?

*ducks*
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:58 PM on November 11, 2007


How many French popstars does it take to change a lightbulb in a bathtub?

One less, now.
posted by wendell at 9:01 PM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


You forgot to mention that the electrocution-in-the-bathtub thing was a Keith Relf cover.

Les Harvey still tops the pop star electrocution charts for actually being on stage, though.
posted by Kinbote at 9:08 PM on November 11, 2007


I almost electrocuted myself in a French bathtub once. There was some sort of jury-rigged electrical device that was attached to the copper pipe leading to the tub spigot. A heater? Why would you heat a section if pipe? If not a heater, what? I still don't know. Turned the spout and got fireworks and a numb arm. Many insincere apologies from my hosts followed, the implication being that the stupid American couldn't figure out the genius of French plumbing design. Wish I'd known about this guy then.

And after viewing the clips, I'm of the opinion that he deserved worse than bathtub electrocution.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:23 PM on November 11, 2007


That's the kind of death I worry about--not a painful death, but one that makes people tsk tsk and nominate you for a Darwin Award. Several years ago a similar thing happened to my friend: his sister simply slipped in the tub, cracked her head and died. Accidental deaths give me the willies.
posted by zardoz at 9:25 PM on November 11, 2007


I had never heard of Claude François. Pretty funny, his dancing. Thanks for posting the link.
posted by jouke at 9:50 PM on November 11, 2007


I fear I will never understand French pop music. CloClo, Johnny, Françoise, France Gall, Dalida, tous les yéyés ... my loss, no doubt. One of those summits of Gallic culture I shall never attain.
posted by Wolof at 10:01 PM on November 11, 2007


With a teenage Jodie Foster, doing the Gainsbourg-Bardot classic 'Comic Strip'. Marvelously sick.
posted by grounded at 10:02 PM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


And let's not forget about this fellow who met his end in the bathtub. Don't mess with Sean.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:05 PM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


French rap, on the other hand, is pretty rocking.
posted by Artw at 10:30 PM on November 11, 2007


French rap, on the other hand, is pretty rocking.

Yeah, one of my profs said the French rap thing would never work because they don't have the same distribution of stressed syllables English does. So much for theory.
posted by Wolof at 10:33 PM on November 11, 2007


he tried to change a lightbulb while in the bath

On 220V? Man, that's hardcore.
posted by dhartung at 11:06 PM on November 11, 2007


Actually, "Oh, What a Night" became "Cette Année-Là," not the other way around. The latter's about 1962 and the former's about 1963, but the Four Seasons wrote it and did it first, in 1975.

I read the FPP and went "Waitaminute, is that right? Because the opening narration in Jersey Boys goes..." I had to look it up to be sure, but the fact remains: I get way too much of my information from musicals.
posted by booksandlibretti at 1:04 AM on November 12, 2007


Argh, you're right - it must have been the combo of thinking about My Way and the years referenced in the songs. But I bow to your encyclopaedic knowledge of musicals!
posted by jacalata at 1:40 AM on November 12, 2007


(Trini Lopez' 'If I had a hammer')

That's like saying 'Britney Spears' "Satisfaction"'. You mean Pete Seeger and Lee Hays' 'If I had a hammer', no?
posted by signal at 4:21 AM on November 12, 2007


He was so popular and the official cause of death was so silly that most people believe he died from an overdose or something more gruesome. It's a bit like our "Elvis is still alive" thing.
posted by surrendering monkey at 6:52 AM on November 12, 2007


Totally loved that frilly François with his fun and frothy, frivolosity. Especially Belles Belles Belles (those poor girls must have gotten frostbite). He was a sexy, skinny rascal. Cannot believe his version of If I Had a Hammer, seriously cringeworthy and worth watching.

A friend of a friend died in a slip and fall, cracking their head on the bath tub. Death is almost always an interruption before really old age or when not desired because of great pain. In this case his ocd got the better of him.

At least, it seems, like he had a pretty fun life.

Jodie Foster was so beautiful in that video! Impeccable accent. She went to the Lycée Français de Los Angeles. Another of her singing beautifully in French, age 14 approx, charming.
posted by nickyskye at 11:32 AM on November 12, 2007


Hmmm, yes, been hearing about him for a long time. Rumour always had it that it wasn't a light bulb he had in the bath tub with him, but some kind of humming electric toy. You could still count on a good cover-up story back then!
posted by biboch at 2:24 PM on November 12, 2007


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